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Gulf receives $150M in hurricane relief
July 01, 2006
The Gulf Coast seafood industry will receive $150 million in
federal aid as part of a $94.5 billion war and hurricane-relief
spending bill passed by Congress last month.
It comes 10-plus months after Hurricane
But money allocated for rebuilding the Gulf seafood industry
is a far cry from the roughly $1.1 billion Sen. Richard Shelby,
R-Ala., initially sought.
"It's a good start," says Mike Voisin, VP of Motivatit
Seafoods, a Houma, La., oyster processor. "We're grateful. We
look forward to continuing to work with Congress and the
administration" to garner additional support.
Of the $150 million, $90 million is allocated for restoring
and reseeding oyster beds and shrimp grounds, and $20 million
for removing debris and wreckage along the coastline. Voisin
says rebuilding the industry's infrastructure - refloating
boats, repairing docks, hatcheries and processing facilities
and rehabilitating oyster beds and shrimp grounds - is the No.
The money will be distributed by the five Gulf Coast states,
Additionally, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration will get $20 million to rebuild its Pascagoula,
Miss., fisheries lab and $12 million to improve its
hurricane-damage reporting capabilities.
In total, the Gulf Coast will receive about $20 billion in
hurricane relief. The remaining $74.5 billion in the spending
bill will fund the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and the effort to
combat avian influenza, or bird flu.
Private contributors are also helping the Gulf seafood
industry. Through the Alaska Fishing Industry Relief Mission,
Aleutian Spray Fisheries, a Seattle seafood processor, in early
June donated an ice-making machine to the Biloxi, Miss., public
docks, where some 100 shrimp boats unload their catches.
The Shell Group, one of the world's largest oil companies,
has contributed $500,000 so far, adds Voisin.
Despite a turbulent 2005 hurricane season and ailing
infrastructure, Louisiana's shrimp landings have rebounded.
And this year, the state is expected to yield 55 to 60 percent
of its usual 250-million-pound (in-shell) oyster harvest (see
Market Report, p. 15).
Still, the Gulf seafood industry is struggling to find
workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 45
percent of the region's residents hadn't returned as of
Motivatit Seafoods was forced for the first time to employ
foreign workers in its processing plant using temporary H-2B
"The labor issue has been real challenging for us," says
Voisin. - Steven Hedlund