California's 2015-16 Dungeness and rock crab fisheries were declared a disaster more than 2 1/2 years ago. On May 22, 2019, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission announced that it had at long last received those funds to be disbursed.

Then-U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker declared the crab fisheries disasters (along with eight other West Coast and Alaska fishery disasters) on Jan. 18, 2017. West Coast representatives called for up to $150 million. But in August 2017, the House Appropriations Committee dropped the amount to about $20 million.

In February 2018, after a full year with no funds following the declaration, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations worked on Capitol Hill to have disaster funds written into a federal budget bill.

The total $200 million in fishery disaster funds included relief for fishermen affected by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Marine in 2017 and other weather and climate related disasters from 2014 to 2017. West Coast crab fishermen would get almost $26 million itemized for their relief.

Noah Oppenheim, executive director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, released a statement to stakeholders on Wednesday, May 22, 2019, asking them to update all contact information with California's fisheries License and Revenue Branch as soon as possible.

"In order to ensure an accurate and timely distribution of disaster checks, PSMFC will be sending a packet of information to all eligible permit holders stating the amount that person should expect to receive," the letter said. "Your check will be sent once you’ve submitted the required information."

The deadline to submit paperwork is July 31, 2019. Stakeholders are welcome to contact Oppenheim with questions at [email protected] or (415) 723-1801.

Jessica Hathaway is the former editor in chief of National Fisherman.

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