Posted on January 8, 2024
U.S President Joe Biden has signed into law a clarification of the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP) that will ensure projects supporting commercial fishing operations can access funding under that program.
The PIDP is a federal program that provides grants to port authorities, states, and local governments for port-related infrastructure projects; however, vague language left it unclear whether PIDP grants could be awarded to commercial fishing projects.
Representative Val Hoyle (D-Oregon) introduced the Supporting Commercial Fishing in Port Infrastructure Projects Act earlier this year to confirm that commercial fishing projects were eligible for grants. That legislation was then incorporated into the Maritime Administration Reauthorization bill, which was signed into law by the president on 22 December 2023 as part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act.
“I’m thrilled to pass this important bill into law,” Hoyle said. “Our ports and our fishermen are the heart of Oregon’s coastal communities. This law will help ports modernize their infrastructure and support the growth and sustainability of our fishing industry, ensuring that this industry can continue generating economic growth, jobs, and sustainability in all coastal communities.”
The revised language in the bill ensures grants can be used for “port and port-related infrastructure that supports seafood and seafood-related businesses, including the loading and unloading of commercially harvested fish and fish products, seafood processing, cold storage, and other related infrastructure.”
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in 2021 included USD 2.25 billion (EUR 2 billion) in funding for PIDP over a five-year period. The Maritime Administration announced in February 2023 that USD 662 million (EUR 590 million) in funding would be available for fiscal year 2023.
U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, praised Congress for passing the USD 1.35 billion (EUR 1.23 billion) Maritime Administration reauthorization, which will help “modernize ports, maritime infrastructure, and shipbuilding.”
“This bill invests in modernizing America’s ports and shipyards that play a central role in moving American products around the country and world and further expands opportunities to support Washington state’s USD 1.2 billion [EUR 1.1 billion] seafood industry,” Cantwell said.
Cantwell said the PIDP change could help the Washington state seafood industry build out additional cold storage at ports, noting that Washington had received USD 161 million (EUR 147 million) in grant funding via PIDP to date.
The finalized National Defense Authorization Act also includes a provision enabling the Secretary of Defense to support the U.S. Coast Guard in working together with “friendly African countries” in combating illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. As part of the provision, Congress directed the secretary to furnish a list of African countries that have maritime law enforcement agreements with the U.S.
The conference report on the legislation also includes a “sense of Congress” on how the U.S. should strengthen Indo-Pacific alliances and partnerships as part of its strategic competition with China. The lawmakers encouraged the secretary of defense to engage “with the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Palau, and other Pacific Island countries with the goal of strengthening regional security and addressing issues of mutual concern, including protecting fisheries from IUU fishing.”