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Greater Atlantic Region fisheries to receive approximately $36 million in disaster relief funds

Contact:   Maggie Mooney-Seus                                                        February 26, 2014


New England groundfish fishery to receive nearly $33 million; New Jersey and New York recreational and commercial fisheries to receive just over $3 million

As part of the Fiscal Year 2014 federal budget, Congress approved $75 million in fishery disaster relief funds. Today, NOAA Fisheries announced that the New England groundfish fishery will receive approximately $33 million. Commercial and recreational fisheries in New Jersey and New York will receive just over $3 million for relief effort to address the impacts following Hurricane/post-tropical cyclone Sandy.

Two separate disasters were declared in the Northeast U.S. NOAA Fisheries will work with the eligible states affected by the disaster to quickly allocate the funding.  

In 2012, The Secretary of Commerce declared a fishery disaster in anticipation of significant quota cuts for key groundfish stocks in the 2013 fishing year. In the aftermath of Sandy, the Secretary also declared a recreational and commercial fisheries disaster in New Jersey and New York.

“We are grateful to Congress for making available such a significant portion of the appropriated monies to support both the New England groundfish fishery as well as the commercial and recreational fishing businesses affected by Sandy in our region,” said John Bullard, administrator, Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office, NOAA Fisheries. “We realize that for some no amount of funding would be sufficient to address the full economic impacts of these disasters, but hopefully this will help with immediate needs.”

Over the next several months, details for how the money will be specifically used will be finalized. NOAA Fisheries staff will continue to work with state directors and members of the fishing industry to develop spend plans for these funds.   

“We have already had a number of meetings with state fishery directors, fishing industry representatives and members of Congress to discuss how disaster funds could best address industry needs, both immediate and long term,” added Bullard. “Now that we have a set amount of money identified, our work will become more focused. We want to move quickly to get this money out to those with immediate needs, but also we want to make wise decisions. So, it will take a little time to determine the best course of action to ensure this happens.”

NOAA Fisheries has already been working with the states of New York and New Jersey to distribute $5 million in economic assistance that was previously appropriated by Congress. It is expected that new funds will be used to augment existing efforts to assist impacted businesses in these two states. 

.We have determined that matching requirements do not apply to states, Councils and Commissions in these particular situations.

Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, 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.

The recipients of the funding being announced today have broad latitude to determine the best use of the funds to meet the unique needs of their local businesses and communities. Funds can be used for activities that, “restore the fishery or prevent a similar failure in the future, and to assist a fishing community affected by such failure.”

NOAA Fisheries will work closely with the states receiving the funding to help them develop spend plans and grant applications to the get the money to the fishers and others impacted by the disaster as quickly as possible.

There are a number of steps that have to take place before the money can be distributed. Funds are allocated out through the federal grant process. NOAA Fisheries works with the recipients to ensure that all statutory and grant requirements are addressed in their grant applications and spend plans. Once a spend plan is developed and the grant application is complete, there is generally a 2-3 month review process before the funds are made available to the recipient.

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