It has been a week of good news for Maine’s ground fishermen.
Senator Susan Collins, of Maine, announced that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will award $32.8 million in federal funding for the mitigation of the 2013 New England Multispecies Groundfish Fishery disaster that was declared by the Secretary of Commerce. This funding will help aid struggling ground fishermen in the Northeast, including Maine. In addition, the Secretary of Commerce will waive the 25-percent non-federal match requirement as requested by Senator Collins and Senator Angus King in a letter sent earlier this month.
“Fishing is a way of life in Maine and New England and, for too long, our fishermen, their families, and their communities, have struggled with onerous federal regulations and other burdensome costs,” said Senator Collins, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “I was pleased to have secured Fisheries Disaster Assistance in the federal funding bill approved by Congress in January, which can be used to provide both immediate economic relief to our region’s struggling groundfishing industry, and to make targeted investments that will allow the fleet to survive and become more sustainable in the years ahead. I also applaud the decision to waive the non-federal matching requirement, which would have placed an unnecessary burden on our state and local economies.”
In addition, Senator Collins announced that NOAA expects to fully cover observer and at-sea monitoring costs for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic ground fishermen during Fishing Year 2014.
Maggie Raymond, Executive Director of Associated Fisheries of Maine, responded to that good news: “Senator Collins understands that Maine’s groundfish industry cannot absorb these costs, and we are grateful that she took the lead on assuring that the funds were included in the National Marine Fisheries Service budget.”
The federal funding bill included an appropriation of $43 million to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) for Observers and Training operations, and it also included legislative report language authored by Senator Collins that directed the National Marine Fisheries Service to cover these at-sea and dockside monitoring costs.