Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today welcomed the announcement made by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to disburse $6,310,216 of new disaster assistance funding aimed to restore the oyster fishery in Apalachicola Bay Florida.
On August 12, 2013, a federal fisheries disaster was declared for the oyster fishery along the northwest coast of Florida due to excessive drought conditions in Apalachicola Bay and elsewhere in the Florida Panhandle that have caused the regional economy to suffer significantly. Historically, the Apalachicola Bay region has produced 90 percent of Florida’s oysters and 10 percent of the oysters supplied to the entire country.
“I welcome today’s long-awaited announcement to provide disaster assistance to Apalachicola Bay. This news is much-needed relief for the small business owners and families who were severely impacted by this disaster,” said Rubio. “During my trip to the region last year, I saw firsthand how essential a thriving oyster industry is to Florida’s Panhandle, and I am happy to see that we will finally start getting Florida’s oyster industry back on track.
“While I welcome today’s announcement, I remain committed to ensuring that we eventually reach a long-term solution to this problem, including restoring water flows to Apalachicola Bay,” added Rubio. “I will continue seeking a permanent solution to this, and look forward to working toward a full economic recovery for Florida’s invaluable oyster fishery.”
In September 2012, Senators Rubio and Nelson along with the entire northwest Florida Congressional delegation sent a letter to then Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank of the U.S. Department of Commerce in support of Governor Scott’s request for a fishery disaster declaration under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, which can be read here.
After the disaster was officially declared, in September 2013, Senators Rubio and Nelson sent a letter to the Chairwoman and Ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science and Related Agencies expressing their commitment to securing disaster funding for Florida’s oyster fishery, which can be read here. In November 2013, Senator Rubio again signed onto a letter to Congressional leadership asking for disaster assistance funding for Florida’s oyster fishery which can be read here, and the funding was ultimately included in the FY2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act.
In August 2013, Senator Rubio attended a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation field hearing and heard firsthand testimony from those affected by the ongoing crisis. Rubio also toured Apalachicola Bay and met with local oystermen, families, and businesses to examine the dire effects of the water shortage on Apalachicola Bay and Florida industry. For more information, click here.