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Federal Government Grants New England Fishery Disaster Declaration

Follows Governor Chafee's Direct Appeal to Commerce Department; Will Bring Financial Relief to Fishermen

Providence, RI - Following Governor Lincoln Chafee's direct appeal to the federal government, the U.S. Department of Commerce has issued a disaster declaration for the New England groundfish fishery.

"I want to thank and commend Acting Commerce Secretary Blank for her wisdom in swiftly issuing this critical disaster declaration," Governor Chafee said. "We have recently seen an unprecedented level of cooperation and collaboration among biologists and the fishing community, and we should not punish those hardworking fishermen who comply with regulations and play by the rules. The commercial fishing industry is one of Rhode Island's premier economic assets, and we must work to bolster it. This emergency relief, therefore, is important for both our local economy and the health of our waters. These badly needed funds will prevent Rhode Island commercial fishing businesses from suffering devastating losses, and I applaud the Obama Administration for recognizing this need and taking quick action."

The declaration will prompt Congress to provide emergency financial relief for New England fishermen impacted by cuts to fishing quotas for several commercially important species, including cod, haddock, and yellowtail flounder.

On August 24, Governor Chafee wrote to Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank requesting a disaster declaration under Section 312 of the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

"The fishermen participating in the fishery have been complying with the regulations, and there is every reason to believe that they will continue doing so," Governor Chafee wrote. "But such compliance is increasingly resulting in significant financial hardships, which many are unable to bear. It therefore stands to reason that those destined to suffer the most under the looming cuts should be afforded some measure of relief."

"I am concerned that the economic fallout may push a number of businesses past the brink," Governor Chafee continued. "We cannot withstand such losses. I therefore call upon you to exercise your authority to declare a disaster, prompting Congress to provide emergency financial relief for those fishermen hardest hit by the drastic cuts to groundfish quotas slated for 2013."

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