NMFS Northeast Region
N E W SA final plan for Disaster Assistance for the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Failure was published September 7, 1999 in the Federal Register. Copies are available from the National Marine Fisheries Service (508 495-2367).
This summary is intended as a guide to the plan.
Intent of the Plan
To assist persons who have incurred losses from a commercial fishery failure due to declining fish stocks in the northeast multispecies fishery
Goals of the Plan
To provide financial assistance to fishermen most affected by the groundfish fishery failure
To involve the industry in fishery research and gear research and to provide data for long-term fishery management
Who and where
The plan targets persons most affected by closures implemented by framework adjustments 26 and 27 to the Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. These are mostly coastal fishermen with small boats who cannot move to other areas.
Permit holders are eligible if they hold a valid federal multispecies license and landed and sold at least 10,000 pounds of multispecies finfish to federally permitted dealers between May 1, 1997 and April 30, 1998.
Party/Charter vessels are not eligible.
Persons with a net annual income from commercial fishing of more than $75,000 (or $150,000 if filing a joint return) are not eligible.
Crew members of eligible permit holders may share in that person's compensation if identified by the permit holder.
Estimation of Economic Harm
The plan compares the number of days a person fished from February through June in 1998 in the areas that were closed in 1999 with the number of days that the fisherman fished during the same months in 1999.
For example, if a person fished 40 days in February-June 1998 in the areas closed this year, his "historical activity" would be 40 days. If he did not fish at all in 1999, he could, under certain circumstances, be compensated for all 40 days. If the same person moved his fishing operation and fished elsewhere for 25 days in February-June 1999, he would be eligible for 15 days compensation. If he fished elsewhere for 40 days, he would not be eligible for compensation.
A permit holder's historical activity will be calculated from vessel call-in system reports and vessel trip reports (log books) submitted to NMFS.
If a logbook submitted to NMFS is missing the information needed to determine where a person fished, that logbook will not be used in the calculation of historical activity. Fishermen have been required to submit this information since 1994.
Compensation will be at the rate of $1,500 for each day-at-sea not used due to the recent closures.
This compensation is intended to help both the permit holder and crew. If an eligible permit holder does not designate crew to receive a share of his compensation, the per day compensation would be decreased to $900 per day.
An eligible permit holder who fishes alone can designate himself or herself as crew and receive the full $1,500 per day.
If the total pool of requests for compensation exceeds the funds available, the number of DAS for which each person is compensated will be decreased proportionately. If, for instance, the value of the total pool of DAS were twice the funds available, each eligible permit holder would be compensated for half his or her eligible DAS. For this reason, no compensation will be paid until all requests are received and processed.
If there are funds left after all eligible permit holders have been fully compensated, the excess funds may be used to defray the costs of the research component of the plan.
Vessels and crew that receive compensation will be required to participate in one day of research for each day they were compensated.
Permit holders will not be required to use allotted days-at-sea for this research (unless the permit holder intends to land multispecies fish in the course of the research day).
Costs of personnel (captain and crew) to operate the vessel during research will be borne by the permit holder. All other operation costs will be borne by the researcher.
Research will be undertaken at a mutually agreed date before May 1, 2001 (extensions are possible).
If the permit holder is not asked to provide his or her vessel for research by September 30, 2000, the research obligation expires. Instead, the permit holder will be required to submit the last three years of federal tax returns and other economic and social data. This information is important to better evaluate fishery management measures.
NMFS will identify persons eligible to participate and would send notification letters with a copy of the final plan and an application to all multispecies permit holders, explaining the program and informing the permit holder of the number of days-at-sea that he or she may claim. Eligible permit holders will have to respond to within one month.
Status of the Plan
Multispecies permit holders should expect to receive a letter from NMFS in October explaining the plan.