New England fishery disaster bill sent to Senate

WASHINGTON – A budget bill that will go to the Senate floor for consideration would provide $150 million in disaster relief funding to New England’s groundfish industry and several other fisheries.

U.S. Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire succeeded in adding the funding to a fiscal year 2014 appropriations bill for commerce, justice and science programs.

The bill was passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday and is now headed to the Senate.

It is the latest effort to secure federal aid for the groundfishing fleet in northeastern states. In September, the U.S. Department of Commerce designated the northeastern groundfishery an “economic disaster,” clearing the way for emergency federal funds to help support the industry, research programs or management practices.

But Congress has yet to earmark money for the groundfishery disaster, despite repeated attempts by New England lawmakers and members from other areas with fisheries disasters. The last major efforts failed earlier this year, when the House and Senate passed Hurricane Sandy financial relief bills without providing funding to other designated disasters.

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