USA: subsidies for fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico

"Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Announces Fishery Failure Determination in Gulf of Mexico". This is the title of the announcement by the Department of Commerce for financial help (or subsidies) to fishermen affected by the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Here are the figures (at least the preliminary ones):

"The administration has requested $15 million of supplemental funding as a backstop to address this disaster, as well as $5 million of economic development assistance through the Economic Development Administration. In addition, the administration is requesting unemployment coverage for this disaster, and the Small Business Administration is offering economic injury disaster loans, which can help fishermen and other affected businesses."

When reading the text of the release I was thinking of the latest submission by the US to the WTO on fisheries subsidy rules. Readers of this blog may remember that in my post of 26/04/2010 I was quoting a paragraph of the US document where the US indicated the following:

"We note that exceptions for 'disaster relief' are now placed in Article I.1 ("Except . . . in the exceptional case of natural disaster relief, the following subsidies . . . shall be prohibited"). While we have not come to a firm view, disaster relief may be covered more appropriately in Article II. We have not addressed the disaster relief exception in this submission, but may have further thoughts as to its scope and placement as technical discussions of the text continue."

My guess is that the US has made up its mind on this issue, i.e. that man made fisheries "failures" or "disasters" (such as an oil spill) is a good reason to provide subsidies to fishermen.

Here is the press release announcing the good news for US fishermen affected by the "fisheries failure":


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