New England Fisheries

Phase 2: Federal Disaster Aid for MA Ground Fishermen

Fishing boats in New Bedford, MA.

In the second phase of the larger $32.8-million federal disaster aid package for New England ground fishermen, Massachusetts has developed a plan for distributing $3 million to crew members and other individuals in the commercial groundfish industry.

On June 30th letters went out informing the 601 Massachusetts-based crew members, dock workers, and owner-operators who applied for federal fishery disaster aid of their status. All but 76 of these applicants qualified for aid. Payments to the 525 qualified applicants will range from $1,209 to $10,080 per eligible year.

As a next step, those who are eligible for aid must complete state-vendor forms. Once approved, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries will start scheduling the weekly Friday payments.

The individuals who are eligible for aid in this second phase did not receive aid in the first phase of disaster relief. That phase of relief was distributed “as direct subsidies to limited access multispecies permit holders pre-qualified by NMFS based on their landing history of at least 5,000-lbs. of groundfish” in one of the fishing years between 2010 and 2013.

“It is good to see these emergency funds going to crew, perhaps the most vulnerable participants in the fishery. It is unfortunate, however, that it appears to be so little and so long in coming,” says Peter Shelley, Interim President of Conservation Law Foundation.

In addition to the $3 million for crew members, dock workers, and owner-operators, phase two includes $3.8 million for a pool of permit holders, or boat captains, not covered in the first round of relief; $750,000 for shore-side businesses; and $800,000 for charter and for-hire boat operators impacted by the federally declared fishery disaster.


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