Fisheries relief included in Congress’ $1 trillion budget plan
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, a staunch supporter of federal disaster relief for the New England fisheries, announced the inclusion of the funds in a statement issued.
He said she has repeatedly stood up for New Hampshire’s proud fishermen and has opposed federal catch share limits that are devastating the state’s fishing community.
Several fisheries across the country have been declared disasters by the Department of Commerce since 2012 and require federal aid, but so far no money has been distributed, and the fisheries continue to suffer from depleted fish stocks and drastic cuts in catch allotments.
“I think it’s great news. We’ve been trying to lobby for this for the past two years, ever since the first fishery disaster was declared in 2012 on a regionwide level,” said Josh Weirsma, manager for New Hampshire’s two groundfishing sectors.
Weirsma said this funding is a good opportunity for the fishery to have some type of bridge between covering the expenses it has incurred while facing year over year loss of revenues, and what the future in fishing might be.
“There are different ways people have already proposed on how the money should be spent, from direct aid to fishermen, direct aid to shore fed infrastructure, covering costs of at-sea monitoring, new collaborative research money, so everybody is going to try to get their own piece of this, including environmental groups and academia and universities who are going to want to leverage it for research purposes,” Weirsma said. “It is not going to be as simple as writing a check to fishermen for the amount of money they lost, but it is definitely something and will create some opportunities that didn’t exist for us before.”
“Whatever disaster aid relief money we can get, we hope to use it as a bridge to kind of bide our time until the fish stocks do recover. Guys who might be under pressure to sell their permits and stop fishing immediately … might be able to reconsider.”
“Even compared to last year, most of our guys were fishing at least into January and February, but we’re constrained very severely, and we’re not the only ones,” Weirsma said.