The federal government issued a disaster declaration for Northeast fisheries Thursday, a move that is expected to bring around $100 million in federal relief dollars to the region's struggling groundfishing fleets, according to Bangor Daily News.
There are approximately 45 groundfishing vessels based in Maine, with most based in the southern part of the state.
Federal and state lawmakers have pursued disaster declarations for the groundfish fishery since 2010, the BDN reported, and, one day prior to Thursday's declaration, Gov. Paul LePage joined a chorus of New England governors calling for the federal government to come to the aid of Northeast groundfishing fleets.
Meredith Mendelson, deputy commissioner for the state's Department of Marine Resources, told the BDN that the emergency declaration "lends a lot of credibility" to the challenges that groundfishermen have faced in recent years.
The declaration comes in advance of up to 73% reductions in catch limits for cod, haddock, yellowtail flounder and other groundfish species that are expected to go into effect by May 1, 2013.
On top of those expected catch limits, Maine's groundfishing industry has seen lower catch totals, according to the BDN. In 1991, over 21 million pounds of cod were landed in the state while only 814,000 pounds of cod were caught in Maine last year.