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Alabama fishing industry
may get $28 million boost

Shelby announces aid for Gulf fishermen

WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, today announced that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is working with Alabama and other Gulf Coast states to release much needed fisheries funding provided in the fiscal year 2006 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act. In particular, $28,000,000 is expected to assist Alabama's fishing industry with oyster bed and shrimp ground rehabilitation, he said.
 
“Shrimp and oysters are the most valuable seafood products of the Gulf Coast region. Last season’s hurricanes filled our shrimp grounds with debris, devastated oyster beds along the Gulf Coast, and caused an immediate and long-term impact to the Gulf Coast fishing industry," said Shelby. "Therefore, it is essential that we reseed and rehabilitate oyster beds, and clean-up and monitor shrimp grounds throughout the Gulf Coast region. The $28 million provided to Alabama will go a long way towards the restoration of productive oyster beds and shrimp grounds in areas that were adversely affected.”

In addition to the rehabilitation efforts, NOAA will continue its work to locate and map hazardous marine debris within prime fishing grounds off the coast of Alabama. Immediately following last season's hurricanes, NOAA began re-mapping navigable channels throughout the Gulf Coast, including Mobile.

"These additional funds will allow NOAA to concentrate mapping efforts in well-traveled fishing grounds to ensure the safety of our fishermen," Shelby continued. "This process will keep boats from colliding with hazardous materials that may have been created or moved by last year’s storms. It will also lower the risk of fisherman snaggling debris and damaging net and gear instead of catching fish.” 

   
“A key component to restoring the Gulf Coast fishing industry is debris removal," added Shelby. "These efforts must be successful if our fishermen are to maintain their businesses, so that tourist and citizens alike can continue to enjoy Gulf seafood.”                            

The funds were included in the FY 2006 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act which included $128 million for Oyster Bed and Shrimp Ground Reseeding, Rehabilitation, and Restoration, and $20 million for Surveying and Mapping for Marine Debris Removal.