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Feds Declare Fishery Disaster In New England

(WBUR File Photo)

(WBUR File Photo)

BOSTON — New England fishermen are poised to get millions of dollars in financial relief, after the federal government on Thursday declared a national fishery disaster for the region.

The U.S. Commerce Department says key fish stocks in the groundfish industry are not recovering, despite catch limits. That may lead to further cuts in catch limits next year.

The department declared the disaster for 2013, and is asking Congress for money to mitigate economic consequences.

U.S. Sen. John Kerry said he has secured a commitment from Senate Democrats for $100 million in emergency assistance. The money would pay for direct aid and for better fishery science.

Commercial fishermen have long argued their industry is being devastated by federal fishing regulations, and they praised the government’s disaster declaration.

“You know, I’ve spoken to a lot of high-line draggers this year, and they’ve never seen such hard scratching going for them as they’ve seen this year,” said John Our, who runs a commercial fishing boat out of Chatham Harbor on Cape Cod.

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