U.S. Senator Mark Begich, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans and Fisheries, today helped pass the $60 billion supplemental disaster funding bill for Hurricane Sandy. The bill also includes $150 million in relief for fisheries disasters in Alaska and several Northeast states and $56 million for marine debris cleanup.
"Alaska is a coastal state and our economy depends on our world class fisheries. These two provisions will help ensure our fishing industry remains strong and our beaches are not littered with tsunami debris for decades to come. We still need to do more on both fronts but this is a good start and will help many families and communities in the coming months," said Sen. Begich.
Last week, Sen. Begich joined other senators for affected states to make the case for the fishery money. These funds will help Alaska fishermen affected by the very low Chinook salmon runs this summer. Throughout the summer and fall, Sen. Begich met with Alaska fishermen about the disaster and pressed the U.S. Department of Commerce to declare a fishery disaster this September.
Sen. Begich fought for both of these provisions to be included in the final bill and recently wrote to the Appropriations Committee requesting inclusion of funds for the tsunami debris cleanup and fisheries disaster funding in the Superstorm Sandy supplemental package (the full text of the letter is attached).