On January 31, 2012, the start of the Commonwealth’s Commercial Fisheries Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) was announced. Through a federal grant opportunity, the Commonwealth partnered with the National Marine Fisheries Service to develop the RLF program to preserve fishing opportunities for small-scale fishermen struggling through the recent transition to catch share management in the Northeast multispecies (groundfish) fishery.
The new sector management system was adopted by the New England Fishery Management Council under Amendment 16 to the Northeast Multispecies Groundfish Fisheries Management Plan (effective on May 1, 2010). Initially, the National Marine Fisheries Service developed a state permit bank concept to work with state partners on minimizing any potential adverse socio-economic impacts to fishing communities and small-scale fishing businesses that are sometimes attributed to catch-share programs. Maine has established the first state-sponsored permit bank.
MarineFisheries, having met with fishing and banking industry representatives, preferred to develop an alternative assistance approach. The RLF approach, in general, entails short-term loans that will allow marginalized sector members to move towards more sustainable participation and financial viability in the fishery.
In April 2015 the latest revisions to the RLF program took effect. While the specific concerns and solutions differ by community, there was a general consensus that the program was overly restrictive. Ultimately, DMF and NMFS agreed to amend both use and eligibility criteria.
Use restrictions were completely eliminated. This is consistent with the free use of other funds aimed at mitigating negative impacts in the commercial groundfishery such as federal disaster aid. The ability of smaller fishing businesses to craft their own solutions in response to local issues should prove beneficial to the positive impact of the RLF.
In addition, eligibility criteria were loosened both to reflect the trend of increasing trip length in the commercial groundfishery (2014 Groundfish Performance Report) and to allow smaller fleet owners access to funds. Applicants must continue to be owners/operators of an active sector groundfish vessel but now may own up to three vessels that fish trips with an average duration of up to 3 days (72-hours).
To ensure loans are utilized by smaller groundfish operations in Massachusetts applicants must own and operate a groundfish vessel enrolled as active in a sector. All applicants must be residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and/or homeport their vessel in the Commonwealth. Owners of more than 3 vessels and trip boats (>72 hrs. average duration) are not eligible. Additionally applicants may not have any outstanding fishing sanctions or violations from the preceding three years.
MarineFisheries is partnering with local lending institutions to administer loans. Contact an approved vendor based on your homeport and/or county of residency for further information and a loan application:
Cape Cod & Islands
Community Development Partnership
3 Main Street Mercantile, Unit 7
Eastham, MA 02642
Attention: Pam Andersen
Business & Credit Programs Manager
Tel: 508-240-7873 x18
North Shore (Essex County)
Cape Ann Commercial Fishermen's Loan Fund
11 School St., #1
Rockport, MA 01966
Attention: Rochelle Genovese-McManus
Metro Boston & South Shore*
Tremont Credit Union
150 Grossman Drive
Braintree, MA 02184
Attention: Janelle Hardiman
Marketing & Business Development Manager
Tel: 781-843-5626 x1147
See website for other branch locations
*TCU membership open to members of Massachusetts Fishermen's Partnership
DMF News 1st & 2nd Quarters 2011 - Page 8 file size 1MB