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Doug Grout : (603) 868-1095
Jane Vachon: (603 271-3211
May 28, 2014

States Reach Consensus on Plans to Distribute New England Groundfish Disaster Funds 

June meetings planned for commercial and party/charter boat businesses that rely on groundfish, to get ideas for use of NH State-Specific Grant funds.

DURHAM, N.H. -- NOAA Fisheries and state fishery directors from Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York today announced plans to move forward with the distribution of $32.8 million in federal disaster monies to the New England groundfish industry.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department will be receiving $2,039,825 in federal funds for use in direct assistance to New Hampshire's fishing industry following the declaration of a federal fishing disaster for the New England groundfish fishery. These funds are a portion of the $75 million allocated by U.S. Congress as part of its Fiscal 2014 budget to help with six fishery disasters; $32.8 million of which was allocated to the New England states.

Marine Fisheries Division Chief, Doug Grout stated, "I am pleased that we have been able to develop a spending plan for the groundfish disaster relief funds appropriated by Congress that helps address both the immediate needs and the long term viability of our small boat groundfish fleet."

In 2012, the Secretary of Commerce declared one of these fishery disasters to be the result of significant quota cuts anticipated for key New England 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 monies between three themes (roughly $11 million in each). One-third would be allocated for direct assistance, one-third to be split among the states and used at their discretion, and one-third to be held back for development of a federally funded buyout or industry-funded buyback.

  • Direct Assistance: Using a formula recommended by some industry organizations, direct assistance will be distributed equally to 336 holders of permits in the Northeast multispecies fishery who landed at least 5,000 pounds of groundfish in any one of the past four years (2010-2013). Qualified permit holders from each of the affected states would each receive a check for approximately $32,500; 
  • State-Specific Grants: States would split a second third of the total available monies based on an agreed-to formula that considers groundfish revenue losses affecting each state in recent years, with a slight adjustment to ensure that no state receives less than $250,000. Subject to NOAA approval of spend plans, states would have some flexibility to determine the most appropriate way to address the unique and varied needs of their fishing communities. For instance, states could opt to use monies to assist recreational fishermen, commercial vessel crew members, shore-based infrastructure, and cooperative research; 
  • Vessel buyout/buyback: NOAA, state directors, and the fishing industry would use the remaining monies to develop either a government funded buyout program or an industry-funded buyback program. This aspect of the framework is expected to take longer to develop so funds would be held in reserve until needed.

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department will host meetings in June for the state's commercial and party/charter boat businesses that rely on groundfish, to get ideas for use of the funds from State-Specific Grant to New Hampshire. Those meeting will take place as follows:

  • Commercial Harvesters: Tuesday, June 3, 2014, at 7 PM Urban Forestry Center, 45 Elwyn Road, Portsmouth, N.H.
  • Party/Charter Boats: Monday, June 9, 2014, at 7 PM, NH Fish and Game Region 3 Office, 225 Maine Street, Durham, N.H.

For more information on the federal announcement by NOAA for the New England region, click here.

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