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Peterson, Klobuchar, Smith, Urge Inclusion of Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians' Tribal Fishery in Upcoming Relief Package

 

September 10, 2020

WASHINGTON – Representative Collin Peterson and U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith (D-MN), are pressing Congressional appropriators to make the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians' Tribal fishery, and other fisheries in the Great Lakes basin, eligible for any future coronavirus relief funding provided by Congress.

In a letter sent Tuesday, the three told members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees that the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians' Tribal fishery in northern Minnesota should be eligible for relief from the impact of the pandemic as the oldest and largest walleye commercial fishery in the United States. It harvests up to 1.1 million pounds of walleye from Upper and Lower Red Lake, with a direct economic impact estimated at over $1.2 million in payments and wages.

"As you know, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided $300 million to aid fisheries impacted by the pandemic. Unfortunately, the Department of Commerce determined that fisheries located outside a coastal state were ineligible for assistance under the Act," the lawmakers wrote.

"The fishery at Red Lake has experienced economic impacts due to the pandemic and deserves similar assistance to that which was provided under the CARES Act. That is why we are concerned that both the HEROES Act passed by the House and the HEALS Act proposed in the Senate would continue to disqualify them."

Full text of letter HERE and below:

Dear Chairman Shelby, Chairwoman Lowey, and Ranking Members Leahy and Granger:

We write to urge you to ensure the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians' Tribal fishery in our state is included as an eligible inland fishery for any future assistance provided by Congress in response to economic losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Because the upper and lower basins of Red Lake are not part of the Great Lakes watershed, we urge you to include the below language that would ensure the inclusion of the Red Lake Tribal fishery in any new definition of eligible fisheries.

As you know, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provided $300 million to aid fisheries impacted by the pandemic. Unfortunately, the Department of Commerce determined that fisheries located outside a coastal state were ineligible for assistance under the Act.

The Red Lake Tribal fishery in northern Minnesota is the oldest and largest walleye commercial fishery in the United States with an annual harvest quota of 1.1 million pounds of walleye from Upper and Lower Red Lake, including subsistence fishing of nearly 100,000 pounds. The direct economic impact has been estimated at over $1.2 million in payments and wages to local band members.

The fishery at Red Lake has experienced economic impacts due to the pandemic and deserves similar assistance to that which was provided under the CARES Act. That is why we are concerned that both the HEROES Act passed by the House and the HEALS Act proposed in the Senate would continue to disqualify them.

The Red Lake Tribal fishery is also the only Tribal fishery in the United States that is regulated by the Secretary of the Interior. It is for this reason that we strongly recommend the below language be included in any future relief package in response to economic losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic:

"The amount provided under this heading in this Act shall be allocated to... and include federally recognized Tribes in the Great Lakes basin and any Tribal commercial fishery regulated by the Secretary of the Interior in 25 CFR Part 242."

As the Red Lake Tribal fishery is the only commercial Tribal fishery in the United States that is regulated by the Secretary of the Interior, this definition would encompass both Red Lake and the Great Lakes Basin fisheries in the definition of eligible Tribal fisheries.

Again, we urge you to explicitly make the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians' Tribal fishery in our state eligible for any future assistance provided by Congress to respond to economic losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

 

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