(a) In general
When there is a catastrophic regional fishery disaster the Secretary may, upon the request of, and in consultation with, the Governors of affected States, establish a regional economic transition program to provide immediate disaster relief assistance to the fishermen, charter fishing operators, United States fish processors, and owners of related fishery infrastructure affected by the disaster.
(b) Program components
(1) In general
Subject to the availability of appropriations, the program shall provide funds or other economic assistance to affected entities, or to governmental entities for disbursement to affected entities, for—
(A) meeting immediate regional shoreside fishery infrastructure needs, including processing facilities, cold storage facilities, ice houses, docks, including temporary docks and storage facilities, and other related shoreside fishery support facilities and infrastructure while ensuring that those projects will not result in an increase or replacement of fishing capacity;
(B) financial assistance and job training assistance for fishermen who wish to remain in a fishery in the region that may be temporarily closed as a result of environmental or other effects associated with the disaster;
(C) funding, pursuant to the requirements of section 1861a(b) of this title, to fishermen who are willing to scrap a fishing vessel and permanently surrender permits for fisheries named on that vessel; and
(D) any other activities authorized under section 1861a of this title or section 4107(d) of this title.
(2) Job training
Any fisherman who decides to scrap a fishing vessel under the program shall be eligible for job training assistance.
(3) State participation obligation
The participation by a State in the program shall be conditioned upon a commitment by the appropriate State entity to ensure that the relevant State fishery meets the requirements of section 1861a(b) of this title to ensure excess capacity does not re-enter the fishery.
(4) No matching required
The Secretary may waive the matching requirements of section 1861a of this title, section 4107 of this title, and any other provision of law under which the Federal share of the cost of any activity is limited to less than 100 percent if the Secretary determines that—
(A) no reasonable means are available through which applicants can meet the matching requirement; and
(B) the probable benefit of 100 percent Federal financing outweighs the public interest in imposition of the matching requirement.
(5) Net revenue limit inapplicable
Section 4107(d)(3) of this title shall not apply to assistance under this section.
(c) Regional impact evaluation
Within 2 months after a catastrophic regional fishery disaster the Secretary shall provide the Governor of each State participating in the program a comprehensive economic and socio-economic evaluation of the affected region's fisheries to assist the Governor in assessing the current and future economic viability of affected fisheries, including the economic impact of foreign fish imports and the direct, indirect, or environmental impact of the disaster on the fishery and coastal communities.
(d) Catastrophic regional fishery disaster defined
In this section the term "catastrophic regional fishery disaster" means a natural disaster, including a hurricane or tsunami, or a regulatory closure (including regulatory closures resulting from judicial action) to protect human health or the marine environment, that—
(1) results in economic losses to coastal or fishing communities;
(2) affects more than 1 State or a major fishery managed by a Council or interstate fishery commission; and
(3) is determined by the Secretary to be a commercial fishery failure under section 1861a(a) of this title or a fishery resource disaster or section 4107(d) of this title.
Fisheries Hurricane Assistance Program
Pub. L. 109–479, title I, §115, Jan. 12, 2007, 120 Stat. 3604, provided that:
"(1) 2 percent shall be retained by the State to be used for the distribution of additional payments to fishermen with a demonstrated record of compliance with turtle excluder and bycatch reduction device regulations; and
"(2) the remainder of the amounts shall be used for—
"(A) personal assistance, with priority given to food, energy needs, housing assistance, transportation fuel, and other urgent needs;
"(B) assistance for small businesses, including fishermen, fish processors, and related businesses serving the fishing industry;
"(C) domestic product marketing and seafood promotion;
"(D) State seafood testing programs;
"(E) the development of limited entry programs for the fishery;
"(F) funding or other incentives to ensure widespread and proper use of turtle excluder devices and bycatch reduction devices in the fishery; and
"(G) voluntary capacity reduction programs for shrimp fisheries under limited access programs.