June 9, 2014
CHATHAM — Homeowners would be up in arms if a hurricane were to level this town and insurers, dealing with a finite amount of money, stipulated after the fact that only owners of homes built before 1800 would be reimbursed.
That's the way many local fishermen feel after the federal government announced a plan late last month to send each qualified fisherman $32,000 in an initial $6.3 million disbursement of the $32.8 million in fisheries disaster relief money awarded by Congress to six Northeastern states.
The National Marine Fisheries Service said 194 fishing permits qualified for the $32,000 check. But local fishermen say some fishermen own several permits, sometimes dozens, so the $6.3 million could benefit as few as 100 out of the nearly 800 who hold federal permits in Massachusetts.
"There are a whole bunch of guys out here who have been living this disaster for a number of years and they were just ignored," said Tom Dempsey, Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen's Alliance policy director and a member of the New England Fishery Management Council. "If anybody at the start of this process had stepped forward and said we need to make sure that we just take care of 100 guys in Massachusetts, everyone would have known that that's not right."