The Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Association, located on Parker Street, was allotted $50,000 in this year's state budget to assist fishermen with bills.
"That means we can keep the doors open and help people when we can," said Angela Sanfilippo, the association's president.
The $50,000, the only income the organization has at this time, will pay for utilities and rent, Sanfilippo said. Other programs the association offered, such as job retraining for fishermen who decide to get out of the business and scholarships for the children of fishermen, ceased several years ago when federal funding from the Department of Labor ended.
For the time being, when it cannot directly help those who come in the door, the Fishermen's Wives Association refers them to agencies that can, she said.
Sanfilippo said the group's leaders are thinking of a fundraising drive this summer to help with costs and to try to reinvigorate some of the programs.
The Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Association started in 1969 as a support network for the wives of fishermen while their husbands were at sea and grew into an advocacy group for the fishing industry that has tried to resist the tightening of fishing regulations and combatted local aquaculture proposals.
Recently, the group has been a vocal opponent, along with several other local fishing and environmental advocacy groups, of the liquefied natural gas ports proposed off Gloucester. Both LNG proposals have received state approvals, and one company, Excelerate Energy, has begun construction.
Vito Calomo, executive director of the Massachusetts Fisheries Recovery Commission, said that $50,000 the group received does not go far. But he said some of the money should be used not to help fishermen move away from the industry but to draw in younger people interested in learning the ropes and train them with the help of the Coast Guard.
"They could help teach some young people who really want to get into this job how to fish," Calomo said. "We have fishermen out there who are in their 60s. But where are all the young people?"
He said that once the Gloucester Fishing Community Preservation Fund - a new nonprofit organization started with mitigation money from Excelerate and Suez Energy North America, which is building the other LNG terminal - gets on its feet and begins buying and leasing local fishing permits, those vessels in the area would still need crews.