KERRY, KENNEDY, CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION URGE FEDERAL RED TIDE DISASTER DECLARATION
Senators John Kerry and Edward Kennedy and Massachusetts' Congressional Delegation sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez urging him to approve the Commonwealth's request for a disaster declaration in response to the recent outbreak of red tide and provide federal disaster relief to the impacted communities.
In June, Kerry urged both the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to immediately develop a federal response to the red tide bloom that is threatening much of New England's coastal areas, including miles of Massachusetts' coast.
"Red tide contamination is devastating to the economies of communities up and down the Massachusetts coast," Senator Kerry said. "Families throughout Massachusetts are struggling to afford the essentials. Those families dependent on shellfishing could be devastated if the Bush Administration fails to approve a disaster declaration. Along with my Congressional colleagues and on behalf of thousands of Massachusetts fishing families, I hope Secretary Gutierrez will take immediate action."
"The red tide certainly qualifies as a disaster. Senator Kennedy strongly supports the hundreds of shellfishermen and their families. They've been an essential part of the Commonwealth's economy for hundreds of years, and a disaster declaration is urgently needed. It will open the door to the assistance these families need to pay their bills and get back on their feet after this latest calamity," said Kennedy spokesperson Keith Maley.
In 2005 both Kerry and Kennedy worked to provide assistance for Massachusetts shellfish farmers who were suffering through the worst outbreak of red tide in more than three decades. Unfortunately, there was significant confusion between the Department of Agriculture and the Small Business Administration as to which federal agency ultimately is responsible for providing assistance to these fishermen.