April 7, 2014
Massachusetts is ratcheting up the drumbeat for the nearly $33 million in federal fishing disaster aid to flow to the coastal New England states and New York through individual states rather than be distributed on a regional basis.
Gov. Deval Patrick personally made the case for state disbursement in an April 1 letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, urging her to “disburse the funds immediately to the affected states so they may begin the important stakeholder outreach process and devise a plan best suited for each state to distribute the disaster funds.”
Patrick said Massachusetts is ready to proceed even if the other eligible states have not finalized their allocation plans.
“If other states need more time for implementation, I request that you move forward to allocate the Massachusetts portion of the program immediately, as the Commonwealth will receive, by any measure, the largest share of the disaster funding due to our landings,” Patrick wrote to Pritzker, adding that Massachusetts commercial groundfishermen suffered 90 percent of the estimated economic impact for the region.
Patrick said the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries is prepared to oversee the development of the economic assistance program and that Massachusetts is committed to an “open and transparent process” to get the funds into the hands of eligible fishermen and fishing-related businesses.