- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 26, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - East Coast states will receive nearly $36 million in disaster relief funding for communities that have suffered severe economic losses due to declining fish populations, the federal government announced Wednesday.

The funding is part of $75 million being sent from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to affected fishing communities in several regions of the country that were hard hit economically in 2012 and 2013.

Four coastal New England states - Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island - will share $32.8 million in disaster relief. The specific amounts for each state haven’t been determined yet.

New York and New Jersey will share $3.1 million for damage wrought by Superstorm Sandy.


The money could be used for direct payments to fishermen, habitat restoration, job training or other programs intended to support commercial fishing.

Fishermen in Alaska, Washington state, Mississippi, Florida and American Samoa also will receive aid.

NOAA also announced it would waive the state matching requirements for the disaster relief funds.

In September 2012, the U.S. Commerce Department declared a fisheries resource disaster for the Northeast fishery after research showed several key fish stocks, such as cod and flounder, were not rebuilding despite catch limits. The declaration also predicted those species would continue to fall. The department declared a fisheries disaster in Rhode Island last year.