PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The federal government is giving the Atlantic herring fishing industry in four states more than $11 million to cope with instability in the fishery.

A scientific assessment in 2020 found that herring are overfished, and quotas for the fish were reduced dramatically. The federal government declared a “fishery disaster,” which cleared the way for assistance.

Atlantic herring are an important East Coast fishery because the fish are used as bait by commercial lobstermen. The fish are also used as food.

Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said Thursday that the herring industry in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island will get the assistance. More than $7 million is slated for Maine.

Raimondo said the assistance can be used to assist commercial fishermen as well as shore-side infrastructure. She said the assistance “will help affected fisheries and communities recover from disasters and make them more resilient to future challenges.”