Congresswoman Chellie Pingree is pushing Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to declare a disaster for the 2009 shellfish season so harvesters can receive aid after suffering one of the worst outbreaks of red tide in years.
"The 2009 season was considerably worse than when disasters were declared in 2005 or 2008," said Pingree. "Harvesters and coastal communities lost millions of dollars due to closures and, with the economic downturn, it came at a terrible time. Aid would certainly help many harvesters from having to make the tough choice between heating their homes or putting food on the table this winter."
Pingree wrote to Secretary Locke in late November asking him to consider Maine's petition, which was submitted over a year ago. Maine's Congressional delegation wrote to the Secretary in support of the petition in October 2009.
"The lack of action on Maine's petition has been disappointing," said Pingree. "The evidence is clear that Maine suffered a disaster--98 percent of our shellfish beds had to be closed because of red tide. I don't understand why this has been held up for so long. Shellfish harvesters suffered and need help to put this important Maine industry back on its feet."