On Thursday, July 13, U.S. Representative Val Hoyle (OR-04) introduced legislation to ensure ports can apply for infrastructure grants that support commercial fishing, bolster jobs, and drive the economies of our coastal communities.

The current law in place does not make it explicitly clear whether ports can apply for the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) grants that support commercial fishing. This has left a gap open for interpretation that overlooks the commercial fishing communities which are the backbone of the U.S. coastal economies. Rep. Hoyle’s legislation would clarify that ports may apply for federal funding through the Maritime Administration’s Port Infrastructure Development Program (MARAD’s) for projects that specifically support commercial fishing, and local jobs that come with it.

Rep. Hoyle stated, “Prior to the pandemic, Oregon’s commercial fisheries generated an estimated $558 million in income for Oregon’s economy – I’d like to see us get back there. We need to clear through any red tape to ensure federal funding can help our commercial fishing industry. My legislation makes it clear that every one of Oregon’s ports should have the ability to apply for federal infrastructure funding that supports commercial fishing.”

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will provide a record $2.25 billion over five years for PIDP, which would be the largest federal investment ever in our nation’s ports. Rep. Hoyle’s Supporting Commercial Fishing in Port Infrastructure Projects Act states that any secured PIDP funding can be utilized to support “the loading and unloading of commercially harvested fish and fish products.”

Congresswoman Hoyle represents Oregon’s newly drawn fourth congressional district, which includes Benton, Coos, Curry, Lane, and Lincoln counties as well as parts of Douglas country. While also serving on the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources.

Similarly in Maine and Alaska, Senator King and Murkowski introduced a bipartisan legislation back in June to expand financial support to America’s fishing communities. The effort reinforces coast-to-coast connections, as the State of Maine and Alaska alike have many small family businesses that make the gear, build, and maintain productions of seafood, and distribute both state’s local fish all around the world. The Fishing Industry Credit Enhancement Act would allow businesses that have been providing direct assistance to fishing operations, such as gear production and cold storage, to access Farm Credit services.

[Editors' note: On July 14th, U.S. Rep Val Hoyle's "Supporting Commercial Fishing in Port Infrastructure Projects Act" passed the U.S. House of Representatives as part of the Maritime Administration (MARAD) Reauthorization bill.]

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Carli is a Content Specialist for National Fisherman. She comes from a fourth-generation fishing family off the coast of Maine. Her background consists of growing her own business within the marine community. She resides on one of the islands off the coast of Maine while also supporting the lobster community she grew up in.

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