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Sunday, June 8, 2014

Scrod screwed

By ecoRI News staff
fish animated GIFThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has declared southern New England a federal disaster area for the region's ground-fishermen and has given the three states a total of $16,701,235 to support these fisheries.

The Massachusetts groundfish industry makes up nearly 90 percent of the New England groundfish fishery.

“We are extremely pleased that this critical funding is getting out the door to our fishermen who have been struggling during these hard times and under catch share regulations and declining groundfish stocks,” Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said. “We have worked for years to secure the financial assistance our fishermen need to sustain this historic and important industry, and this money is vital for them, their families and their communities.”

Here is what each state will receive in federal funding:

  • Connecticut: $250,000
  • Massachusetts: $14,512,618
  • Rhode Island: $1,938,617
NOAA and state fishery directors from Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York will distribute a total of $32.8 million in federal disaster funds to the Northeast’s groundfish industry. This money is a portion of the $75 million allocated by Congress as part of its fiscal 2014 budget to help with six fishery disaster areas across the country.

In 2012, the secretary of commerce declared the Northeast groundfishery disaster to be the result of significant quota cuts anticipated for key groundfish stocks in the 2013 fishing year. Under federal fisheries law, the commerce secretary can declare a fishery disaster, which makes it possible for Congress to appropriate funds to provide economic assistance to fishing businesses and communities, including fishermen, affected by a disaster and to support other activities addressing the disaster.

In this agreed-to distribution framework for the groundfish fishery, the six states would apportion available money among three themes, with about $11 million going to each theme: one-third will be allocated for direct assistance for federal permit holders; one-third will be split among the states and used to address state-specific groundfish concerns; and one-third will be held back for development of a federally funded buyout or industry-funded buyback.

NOAA plans to work closely with the states to complete required reviews of state grant applications and spend plans for both the direct assistance grants and the state grants to distribute this portion of the funds as quickly as possible.