"Disaster relief may be provided by the federal government to assist the fishing industry when it is affected by a commercial fishery failure. A commercial fishery failure occurs when fishermen endure hardships resulting from fish population declines or other disruptions to the fishery. The Department of Commerce can provide disaster assistance under either § 308 of the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act (16 U.S.C. § 4107), as amended, or § 312(a) of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (16 U.S.C § 1861(a)). The National Marine Fisheries Service plays a central role in determining whether a disaster has occurred and in allocating federal funding to states and affected fishing communities. Congress plays a pivotal role by appropriating funds and providing oversight of the process." (Opening paragraph of the Summary of a Congressional Research Report for Congress, updated May, 2008.)
The Department of Commerce can provide disaster assistance under either the MSFCMA or the IFA. Differences exist under each law with regard to the causes of a fishery failure, and the use of funds. Several recent fishery failures have been declared under both laws, providing program managers greater latitude in matching relief with the needs of recipients. A table showing causes and uses for funds for these declarations in included in the report.
Louisiana began requesting a declaration of fisheries failure in early May, 2010, for impacts of the Gulf oil spill.