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American Samoa to receive $1MIL to aid fisheries destroyed by tsunami

reporters@samoanews.com

American Samoa’s commercial fisheries impacted by the September 2009 tsunami will be receiving financial help from the federal government with details to be released by ASG on the criteria to qualify for such funding.
 
The U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service announced late Wednesday that $75 million appropriated by Congress as part of the fiscal year 2014 federal budget will be allocated to six fisheries across the country that were declared fishery disasters by the U.S. Department of Commerce in 2012 and 2013.
 
Among the recipients are the “commercial fisheries in American Samoa following the tsunami of 2009”, it says.
 
Responding to Samoa News questions, the governor’s executive assistant Iulogologo Joseph Pereira said a press release from the Governor’s Office is being prepared to be issued by Lt. Gov. Lemanu Peleti Mauga, who is also the acting governor, on the $1 million that American Samoa is to receive.
 
Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources director Ruth Matagi-Tofiga was informed of the $75 million for six fisheries, as well as the $1 million for American Samoa, when she attended last week’s Coral Reef Task Force and other fisheries meetings in Washington D.C, said Iulogologo, adding that the governor and Lemanu were also informed of this news.
 
Additionally, the Honolulu-based Western Central Pacific Fisheries Management Council informed the government of this award.
 
“While the Governor and Lieutenant Governor have not made the decision on the agency to administer the $1 million, the DWMR is the most likely agency that will manage the distribution of these funds based on the proposal prepared through collaboration with the Western Central Pacific Fisheries Management Council,” Iulogologo said via email yesterday morning from Washington D.C.
 
The news release from the Governor’s Office is expected out soon and will provide more details for the local fisheries proposals.
 
Eileen Sobeck, assistant NOAA administrator for Fisheries, said in a national news release that the federal agency will work with affected communities, states and tribes quickly to ensure that the disaster relief funding gets allocated as quickly as possible.
 
It also says that funding recipients will have broad latitude to determine the best use of their funds to meet the unique needs of their local businesses and communities.
 
For example, funds can be used for activities that “restore the fishery or prevent a similar failure in the future, and to assist a fishing community affected by such failure.”
 
It also says there are a number of steps that have to take place before the money can be distributed. Funds are allocated through the federal grant process.
 
NOAA Fisheries will work with the recipients to develop spending plans and ensure that all statutory and grant requirements are addressed.
 
The federal agency also said that it has determined that matching requirements will not apply in this particular situation.
 
Funding is made possible through a provision of the federal Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which allows the U.S. Commerce Secretary to declare a fishery disaster, making it  possible for Congress to appropriate funds to provide economic assistance to fishing businesses and communities, including fishermen affected by a disaster, and to support other activities addressing the disaster.



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