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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Relief for fishing industry on the way

$75 Million Appropriated for the Mitigation of Fishery Disasters

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced that Rhode Island fishermen will be among the beneficiaries of $75 million in disaster relief funding included in the Fiscal Year 2014 omnibus appropriations bill. The Rhode Island delegation has been a strong advocate for the fishing and marine trades industries, last fall joining a coalition of thirty-eight members of Congress that urged House and Senate leadership to include disaster relief in FY14 funding.

“I have been fighting for this fishery disaster relief since the Northeast Groundfish disaster was declared back in 2012. I thank Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who joined me in leading this multi-state effort, and Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) for ensuring this fishery disaster assistance was included in the final bill.  Fishing is vital to Rhode Island’s economy and this disaster relief is a step toward helping our fishing industry rebuild and recover. I am pleased our fishermen and fishing communities will finally begin to see some much needed help, and I will continue working to ensure this money gets out quickly and effectively to those who need it most,” said Reed, a member of the CJS Appropriations Subcommittee.

“As we’ve seen, fisheries disasters create hardship throughout the industry and coastal communities. Disaster assistance provided in the appropriations bill is an important down payment that will support our fishermen as they deal with a difficult economy and changing regulations,” said Whitehouse. “The funding can provide for investments in infrastructure and equipment, as well as collaborative research and monitoring to better understand the cause of the disaster and condition of the stocks. I look forward to working with the National Marine Fisheries Service to ensure that Rhode Island gets a fair share of the aid, and that it is put towards good use.”

“This assistance is sorely needed by Rhode Island fishermen, who have faced strict catch limits and slow stock rebuilding, in addition to negative impacts caused by environmental variables such as climate change,” said Langevin, who last year introduced the Rhode Island Fishermen’s Fairness Act to give Rhode Island two new spots and a stronger voice on the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council. “These funds will provide much-needed support to Rhode Island fishermen, and I will continue to work to bring strength and stability to our marine industries.”

“For years, Rhode Island’s fishermen have faced a federal fisheries disaster because of tighter regulations and drastically reduced fishing stocks,” said Cicilline, a member of the Budget Committee. “I am pleased this appropriations agreement will help provide relief to fishermen who are a critical part of our states local economy and cultural heritage.”  

The funds will be used for mitigating the effects of commercial fishery failures and resource disasters. A federal fisheries disaster was declared for Rhode Island by the U.S. Department of Commerce in the 2013 season.