(The Center Square) – Commercial fishermen in four northeastern states will share $11million of federal government assistance.
Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced Thursday that the herring industry in Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island will get financial assistance to recoup losses in the Atlantic herring industry which was declared a “fishery disaster” by the federal government last year.
Herring are a crucial part of the region’s commercial fishing industry because they are used for bait, which has been in short supply in recent years, according to federal regulators.
Maine will be getting the largest chunk of the funding, or nearly $7.2 million, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which says it will work with the Maine Department of Marine Resources to administer these funds.
“The drastic reduction in Atlantic herring quotas has caused significant losses in primary income and threatened job security for many in the herring industry,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who pushed for the federal relief funds. “This financial assistance provided through the designation is crucial to the survival of Maine’s Atlantic herring fishery.”
New Hampshire is getting $600,000 from the allocation, according to the federal agency, which was welcomed by members of the state’s congressional delegation.
“This crisis has devastated our fishing industry, particularly since Atlantic herring are used as bait for lobster and tuna fishing industries,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., said in a statement. “This disaster assistance will help our fishing industry stay afloat.”
Rep. Chris Pappas, D-N.H., said the decline of Atlantic herring “has had far-reaching effects, impacting our local fisheries, lobstermen, and restaurant industries.”
Massachusetts and Rhode Island will also be getting a share of the relief funds, according to NOAA.
A 2018 stock assessment for Atlantic herring said the population has dropped by more than 70% within a five-year span. In response, federal fisheries regulators have reduced catch limits by more than 80%, significantly decreasing the value of herring landed at Northeast seaports.
During the 2019 season, there were only nine weeks where Atlantic herring was landed, compared to 29 weeks in 2017, according to federal fisheries data.
Federal fisheries regulators declared a “disaster” in the Atlantic herring industry in November, which paved the way for the financial assistance.
In a statement, Raimondo said federal fisheries managers will be working with affected commercial fisheries to “help them get back on track” with funding and more resources and make those communities “more resilient” to future changes in the fisheries.
“Fishery disasters don’t just impact local communities – they ripple out into the broader economy impacting consumers and businesses far beyond the coast,” Raimondo said. “Resilient and sustainable fisheries are not only essential to our coastal communities, but play a vital role in supporting our blue economy and our nation’s overall economic well-being.”