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NOAA Fisheries Announces Disbursement of Groundfish Disaster Funds (Bin 3)

October 1, 2015

Background

On September 12, 2012, the Department of Commerce determined that a commercial fishery failure due to a fishing resource disaster would exist in the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Fishery for the 2013 fishing year. This determination was made recognizing that, despite fishermen’s adherence to strict catch limits, several key groundfish stocks were not rebuilding as expected, resulting in the need for severe quota cuts in fishing year 2013.

As part of the 2014 fiscal year budget, Congress approved $75 million in national fishery disaster aid, of which $32.8 million was allocated for the Northeast groundfish fishery in six affected states (Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York).

The consensus plan split the available $32.8 million into thirds (roughly $11 million in each pool): 

Bin 1

In August 2014, NOAA distributed $10.6 million to five states (ME, NH, MA, RI, and CT) as the first of three pools (called "bins") of groundfish disaster relief for direct assistance to eligible fishermen. Fishermen received payments of $32,500 for each eligible permit in each of these states. In addition, NOAA distributed an additional $1,137,500 in January 2015 to New York and 17 other eligible permit holders from New Jersey to North Carolina.

Bin 2

NOAA Fisheries released the second round of groundfish disaster relief funds to Massachusetts in February 2015 ($8.3 million); to Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island (approximately $2.3 million) in May 2015, and to Connecticut ($250,000) in June 2015. New York has not yet applied for Bin 2.

Bin 3

For nearly a year, the states, the fishing industry and NOAA Fisheries have been working to develop a plan to use one-third of the groundfish disaster assistance for a buyout program or buyback program. Regrettably, despite all of our best efforts, we were unable to come to consensus on this plan.

In May, we announced that the states agreed to use the Bin 3 disaster funds for  different purposes, which are to provide further assistance to their fishing communities and to tailor additional programs to prevent a similar fishery failure in the future. 

On October 1, NOAA Fisheries announced the release of the final installment of groundfish fishery disaster aid, commonly known as Bin 3. Bin 3 represents the final third of $32.8 million available to assist the groundfish industry. This action allows the states to move forward with the development of individual spend plans for economic assistance to include direct aid to permit holders and crew. 

The states of New York and Rhode Island continue to work with NOAA Fisheries to develop and complete grant applications to benefit affected fishers and their families.


Information on State Grants

Please note that these may change. For the latest information, please check with state contacts listed below.

Maine

Contact: Meredith Mendelson (207) 624-6553

The Maine Department of Marine Resources will allocate disaster funds of $1,020,321 to support the cost of at-sea monitoring for Maine sectors; provide aid to the party/charter fleet (if supported by data); and provide direct assistance to groundfish permit holders who may opt to have their allocation transferred to their sector for one of four purposes: 

  1. Purchase of permits to increase Potential Sector Contribution to the sector and available harvest opportunity
  2. Offset lease costs of Gulf of Maine cod Annual Catch Entitlement to enable continued fishing, or establishment of a revolving loan fund to provide access to capital prior early in the fishing season
  3. Sector management costs
  4. Electronic monitoring equipment

New Hampshire 

Contact :Cheri Patterson (603) 868-1095

This grant will be administered through ASMFC.

The NH Department of Fish and Game, Marine Division intends to provide assistance funds in the amount of $1,044,351 that will be focused on providing financial assistance to the following:

  1. Active Commercial groundfish fishing industry, which based on industry input may include:
    1. Active northeast multispecies permitted and/or state licensed groundfish harvesters that fished and landed groundfish during the 2013 and/or 2014 fishing years.
    2. NH Sector XI and former Sector XII inactive northeast multispecies permits that supplied groundfish annual catch entitlement for NH’s active groundfish fishing fleet in a NH sector during the 2103 and/or 2014 fishing years.
    3. Crew of those permits/vessels that received Direct Assistance (Bin 1) funds.
    4. Funds to Sector XI Permit Bank to be used for purchase of northeast multispecies limited access permits for use by vessels in NH Groundfish Sectors.
  1. For-Hire vessels, which may include:
    1. NH licensed individuals with federally permitted vessels that operated a party boat or charter boat with a minimum number of trips where groundfish were reported caught and landed in New Hampshire on Vessel Trip Reports.

Massachusetts

Contacts: Melanie Griffin (617) 626-1528, melanie.griffin@state.ma.us and Samantha Andrews (617)626.1564, samantha.n.andrews@state.ma.us

The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) proposes to conduct a multifaceted program to address the impacts of the commercial fishery failure, and alleviate the future potential for such a failure, using the remaining funds of $6,927,761.                    

  1. Direct aid: The DMF proposes to administer this portion of the funding as direct financial aid to impacted Federal and state groundfish permit holders in the commercial and for-hire groundfish fisheries, and active crew on the associated commercial and for-hire vessels.
  1. Support for Industry-funded Buyback: The DMF will work with industry to populate a Steering Committee that would then work with a contractor to develop an industry-funded buyback. Funds will support the contract employee’s salary, travel, any analytical costs, supplies, meeting costs, etc. The Steering Committee will develop a public document that will go out for public comment and ultimately a referendum.
  1. Legal Aid for Fishermen and Fishing Communities: Funds will be used to contract with the University of Massachusetts Law School to build a network of legal service providers and community partners within host fishing ports to provide assistance for sustaining viable fishing businesses and stabilizing fishing communities.
  1. Industry-based Survey: The DMF proposes to support an industry-based survey (IBS) on Gulf of Maine cod. The IBS will contract a single commercial fishing vessel to conduct all tows west of 70° W longitude, where the bulk of the cod resource is currently located. The survey will sample all depths within the area, with a maximum depth of approximately 200 meters. Each survey year will be comprised of eight one-month cruises targeting times when cod are most likely to be west of 70° W and likely to be pre-spawning and spawning: October-January (Winter spawners) and April-July (Spring spawners). The first survey year is scheduled to begin on November 1, 2015.

You can find more information on the Groundfish Disaster Economic Assistance Program website.

Connecticut

Contact: David Simpson (860) 434-6043

This grant will be administered through ASMFC.

The CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Marine Fisheries is proposing a lost income subsidy for qualifying CT groundfish fishermen. They have identified groundfish fishermen (state and Federal, including Federal party/charter permittees) in the state who reported landing at least 100 lb of groundfish in any year between 2010 and 2013. A total of $62,977 will be disbursed to up to 40 qualifying fishermen, in one time direct payments, using a tiered approach.