Reed, Whitehouse work to secure money for fishermen
In an effort to help Rhode Island fishermen, U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse recently announced that $150 million is included in the emergency appropriations bill for several fishery disasters declared in the past year.
The Northeast commercial groundfish fishery was declared a disaster due to the depletion and unexpectedly slow rebuilding of fish stocks. The emergency funding included in the appropriations bill can be used to provide a variety of assistance to help fishermen cope with the effects of the disaster and to assist in the recovery of the resource.
“Rhode Island’s fishing industry is important to our economy and I will continue working to help our state’s fishermen through these diffi cult times,” said Reed.
Added Whitehouse, “Rhode Island’s fishing industry has been hit hard in recent years by depleted fish stocks, tighter regulations and a tough economy. This funding could provide badly needed assistance to our fishermen.”
On Dec. 11, Reed, Whitehouse and 12 other senators sent a bipartisan letter to the leaders of the Senate’s subcommittee on commerce requesting the federal funds. The senators wrote: “Over the past year, extreme weather and other natural events have wreaked havoc on commercial and recreational fishermen in our states, leading the secretary of commerce to declare federal fisheries disasters. Despite these declarations and the ongoing hardship, Congress has not yet appropriated funds. Fishing is an integral part of our states’ economies and cultures. These disasters have devastated fishing families and coastal communities and there is an urgent need to provide federal assistance.”
In August, Reed and Whitehouse called on the U.S. Department of Commerce to declare a federal fishery failure for the Northeast multispecies fishery for the 2013 season. The declaration, which opened the door for emergency federal funding for the region’s fishing industry, was announced in September.
A 2011 study funded by a National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grant to the Rhode Island-based Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation, estimated that commercial fishing and related industries account for more than 6,500 jobs in Rhode Island. Across New England the industry remains an important part of the coastal economy and culture.