More than two years after the federal government declared a fisheries disaster in the Northeast as groundfish stocks failed to rebound as expected, federal officials on Thursday released the last round of aid to fishermen totaling $6.9 million for Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries plans to use the money to provide aid to groundfish permit holders and crews, to develop an industry-funded buyback, to build a network of legal services providers to assist fishing businesses, and to provide an industry-based survey on Gulf of Maine cod. The legal services initiative will involve a contract with UMass Law School.
Congress approved $75 million in national fishery disaster aid in its fiscal 2014 budget, of which $32.8 million was allocated for the Northeast groundfish fishery in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut and New York.
In the first round of aid distributed in August 2014, fishermen received payments of $32,500 for each eligible permit in each of these states. While one third of those funds was earmarked for a reserve for the development of a federally-funded buyout or an industry-funded buyback, NOAA Fisheries said that "despite all of our best efforts, we were unable to come to consensus on this plan."