Groundfish Industry Economic Assistance and Development Programs
The Groundfish Federal Disaster Assistance Program stems from a September 12, 2012 disaster declaration in the Northeast multispecies (groundfish) fishery by the Acting Secretary of Commerce.
On May 28, 2014 the state fishery directors from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and New York, in partnership with NOAA, announced a framework for the distribution of $32.8 million in federal disaster aid funding to the New England groundfish industry (joint press release). In the consensus framework, the parties agreed to apportion the funding via three phases, or bins (roughly $11 million in each): one-third to be used for direct assistance (Phase One/Bin 1); one-third to be split among the states and used at their discretion (Phase Two/Bin 2); and per a follow-up decision rendered in 2015, the last third as additional state-discretionary funds (Phase Three/Bin 3).
The Rhode Island portion of the program is administered by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM).
In the fall of 2014, RIDEM completed Phase One of the program by distributing $1,397,500 to 43 federally permitted commercial groundfish permit holders, home-ported in RI, who had at least 5,000 pounds of groundfish landings during the 2010-2013 period.
In the spring/summer of 2016, RIDEM completed Phase Two of the program by distributing $545,367 to:
- 61 commercial captains and crew who worked aboard the 43 Bin 1 vessels during the 2010-2013 period, and earned at least $20,000 from that work;
- 2 for-hire permit holders, home-ported in RI, who undertook at least 30 groundfish trips during the 2010-2013 period; and
- 2 RI-based groundfish sectors
On August 3, 2016, RIDEM finalized regulations governing Phase Three of the Program. Pursuant to this third and final phase, $705,658 will be distributed in the form of additional direct aid payments to:
- Holders of federal permits for the 43 commercial vessels, home-ported in Rhode Island, that received federal aid under the Bin 1 program; and
- The 61 captains and who worked aboard the 43 vessels and received federal aid under the Bin 2 program.
Additionally, Phase Three will provide an opportunity for those commercial captains and crew who worked aboard any of the 43 vessels and meet the Bin 2 eligibility standards, but did not apply for consideration under the Bin 2 program, to apply for consideration under the Bin 3 program.
The final regulations are available here
The Response to Comments, which sets forth the basis for RIDEM's final decision regarding the program, is available here
Phase Three Update (8/30/2016)
The Phase Three Regulations took effect on August 24, 2016. The program involves three components, which are being implemented as follows:
- Current holders of federal permits for the 43 federally permitted vessels [as of 8/24/16], home-ported in Rhode Island [as of 8/24/16], are being notified via certified mail, regarding their eligibility under Bin 3, and asked to complete Pre-Approval forms and submit them to RIDEM within 30 days.
- The 61 captains and crew who worked aboard any of the 43 vessels, and received federal aid under the Bin 2 Program for RI, are being notified, via certified mail, regarding their eligibility under Bin 3, and asked to complete Pre-Approval forms and submit them to RIDEM within 30 days.
- For captains and crew who worked aboard any of the 43 vessels, and meet the Bin 2 eligibility standards, but who did not apply for consideration under the Bin 2 program, they may apply for consideration under the Bin 3 program, during the 30-day application period running from September 1, 2016 to September 30, 2016 by completing the Groundfish Disaster Aid Application, which can be found here and submitting it to RIDEM along with the required documentation pertaining to income verification.
NOTE THAT THE APPLICATION PERIOD RUNS FROM SEPTEMBER 1, 2016 TO SEPTEMBER 30, 2016. APPLICATIONS SUBMITTED AFTER SEPTEMBER 30, 2016, OR POSTMARKED AFTER SEPTEMBER 30, 2016 WILL NOT BE CONSIDERED.
For further information, contact Robert Ballou at RobertBallou@dem.ri.gov, or 401-222-4700, ext. 4420.
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and The Washington Trust Company are partnering on a Groundfish Revolving Loan Fund Program, through which short-term, low-interest loans are available for use by eligible commercial fishermen for leasing groundfish quota. Eligibility criteria and loan details for the Revolving Loan Fund can be found on the RLF program website.
For further information, contact Robert Ballou at (401) 222-4700 ext. 4420 or by email,firstname.lastname@example.org.