SHARECOMMENTMORE

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Rhode Island lawmakers have joined Gov. Lincoln Chafee (CHAY'-fee) in pushing the federal government to declare a disaster in the New England groundfish fishery, citing significant catch limit reductions projected for next year.

Such declaration could make fishermen eligible for additional loan programs and authorizes Congress to provide additional assistance.

Chafee on Friday issued a request to the U.S. Department of Commerce. He cites significant cuts in catch limits for species as cod, haddock, and yellowtail flounder that are projected for 2013. The governors of Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine have made similar requests.

U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse together with U.S. Reps. James Langevin and David Cicilline say in a letter released Saturday that commercial fishing is a vital part of the Rhode Island economy and culture.