Coastal California Reps. Jared Huffman and Jackie Speier on Thursday introduced disaster relief legislation that they hope will deliver more than $130 million to the region’s sidelined crabbers and other business owners who have suffered economically from the extended and unprecedented closures of this year’s Dungeness and rock crab fisheries.
The Crab Disaster Relief Bill of 2016 seeks $138.15 million, including $1 million for sampling and monitoring of domoic acid off the West Coast and $5 million for competitive grants to fund research on the algal blooms that produce the dangerous neurotoxin.
But mostly, the bill would seek direct assistance for devastated fishing communities like Bodega Bay and Fort Bragg, some of whose members are at risk of losing their boats and even their homes.
“This commercial fishery disaster, caused by persistent high levels of a toxin in the crabs and the environment, is not the fault of crab fishermen or the coastal communities in which they live,” said Huffman, D-San Rafael. “These hardworking fishermen shouldn’t have to suffer after working tirelessly to sustain this crab fishery, which is so vital to our local economy.”
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