Gloucester fishermen received some good news late Friday afternoon when the U.S. Small Business Administration announced that fishermen will be eligible for financial assistance through economic injury disaster loans from the agency.
The SBA decision, which came at the request of Gov. Deval Patrick and at the urging of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, sets up the first pipeline for federal financial assistance since the Secretary of Commerce declared the Northeast fishery a disaster in the fall of 2012.
Under the program, the assistance would come in the form of low-interest loans to fishermen and fishing related businesses.
U.S. Sen. Edward Markey said Friday that the assistance will help fishermen keep their businesses afloat as they adjust to changing conditions that threaten commercial fishing communities across the state.
According to the SBA fact sheet, the individual loans are limited to $2 million and eligibility for the loans will be based on credit history, ability to repay the loans and possession of collateral of at least $5,000.
The loans will have a maximum interest rate of 4 percent and repayment terms will stretch up to 30 years. The deadline for applying for the loans is Aug. 1, 2014.
The disaster aid will help fishermen in Essex County, as well as in Barnstable, Bristol, Plymouth, Norfolk and Suffolk counties and two counties in New Hampshire.
The Gloucester-based Northeast Seafood Coalition, which initiated the appeal, applauded the SBA decision Friday.
“The Northeast Seafood Coalition is hopeful that the SBA disaster assistance programs will add an important component to a larger need for direct financial assistance programs like the Fisheries Mitigation Fund approved in July by the Senate Appropriations Committee,” Coalition executive director Jackie Odell said in a prepared statement.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this story.
Sean Horgan can be contacted at 978-283-7000 x3464, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT