As Many as 1,000
Individuals Are Eligible
for Disaster Assistance
NMFS Northeast Region
N E W SGloucester, Mass., -- NOAA Fisheries has announced a second round of disaster assistance to help Gulf of Maine groundfishing operations. About 225 fishing operations are eligible and will be notified by letter next week. As many as 1,000 individuals, including both permit holders and their crew members, could receive the one-time payments. Permit holders could receive up to $7,500 and crew members up to $1,500.
“The second round is designed to provide assistance this spring to fishermen affected by a series of Gulf of Maine coastal closures that stretch from now until June as part of the groundfish stock recovery plan,” says Pat Kurkul, regional administrator for NOAA Fisheries in the Northeast. “While individual compensations will be less than in Round One,” she says, “this time, many more people will qualify for help from NOAA Fisheries.”
This first-of-its-kind disaster relief program provides financial assistance, but also is intended to involve fishermen in research and data gathering to support fishery management efforts. In return for payments, fishermen obligate vessel days for use in research programs and/or provide much needed information useful in assessing the social and economic effects of management measures.
In Round One, announced in September, NOAA Fisheries disbursed payments totaling $2.5 million, to a smaller number of persons or businesses than anticipated in Round Two, based on estimated economic harm caused by groundfish declines. In all, about 200 persons, owners and crew members, received an average of approximately $12,500 each. This represents about 1,600 research fishing days to be obligated by September 30, 2000 and used by May 1, 2001. If the days are not used, the recipient will instead provide social and economic data.
After eligible permit holders responded to Round One of the program, about $2 million in funds remained. NOAA Fisheries re-examined the original pool of approximately 700 operations meeting the program’s most basic eligibility requirements. Using broadened criteria for areas fished, an additional 228 permit holders qualified.
In Round Two, the 228 permit holders are eligible for payments of $3,000 for providing social and economic information and up to $4,500 for a commitment of up to three days of ship time for cooperative research projects. Those who qualified in Round One and either did not apply, or received less than they would have under Round Two, may participate in this second round, or may reapply for the difference.
Any remaining funds will be used to provide a payment to crew members identified by owners participating in either round of assistance. In exchange, crew members will provide social and economic information. As many as 750 crew members may qualify for a payment of about $500 each. Minimum payment is expected to be $100, and the maximum payment $1,500.
The funds used in this program are the result of a $5 million disaster relief package approved by Congress at the request of the New England delegation, which urged NOAA Fisheries to work with the affected fishermen to develop a way of disbursing funds. The agency has since worked closely with the “Tri-State Conference” (a group of fishermen from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine); the Massachusetts Fisheries Recovery Commission, and other industry members to design both rounds of the program.
For further information on the program, contact Dr. Kevin Chu, director of the Office of Cooperative Programs Coordination, at (508)495-2367 or firstname.lastname@example.org.