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(Washington, DC) – New England Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan Collins (R) announced today that their efforts to provide New England fishermen with federal disaster relief have been approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.  Shaheen and Collins secured $150 million for fishery disaster relief for coastal communities across New England and other affected states, which have been suffering severe economic losses in recent years due to declining fish populations. The funds were included in the Fiscal Year 2014 Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill, which is now ready for consideration by the full Senate.

“New Hampshire’s fishermen are important contributors to our economy and their survival is crucial to the Seacoast,” Shaheen said.  “In the face of drastically reduced cod populations, we have a responsibility to act in order to protect our state’s fishing industry.  The Senate needs to pass this disaster relief as quickly as possible.”

“There are approximately 70 Maine-based boats actively fishing with federal groundfish permits, which contribute to both the local and state economy,” Collins said.  “While it has been more than ten months since the federal government declared a disaster, the declaration has not led to financial relief.  The funding in this bill would be used to provide both immediate economic relief to the region’s struggling groundfish industry, and to make targeted investments that will allow the fleet to survive and become more sustainable in the years ahead.”

In September, the Secretary of Commerce declared a federal disaster for the Northeast fishing industry for the upcoming fishing year, but Congress has yet to approve disaster relief funding to the impacted coastal communities. In recent years, New England fishermen and fishing communities have been struggling with revenue losses, declining fish populations and the impact of fishery management decisions. The Appropriations Committee request directs the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to provide $150 million for New England fishery disaster relief.