By Jennifer Henion

Triplicate staff writer

Fishermen and fish plant workers still reeling from the moratorium on groundfish fishing will get some special relief starting today in Del Norte County.

This is one of nine counties in the state getting money from the federal government to pay displaced fishermen and groundfish processors while they train for other jobs.

andquot;The idea is to get them into a training program to get them out of the groundfishing industry,andquot; said Barbara Woods, coordinator of the program at Rural Human Services Job Training Office.

Displaced fishermen and workers who can prove their livelihoods were affected by the groundfish ban are eligible for up to $1,500 per month, depending on family size and other income received by the subject. The stipends can last up to 12 months.

To qualify for the program, fishermen, groundfish processors or plant owners must enroll in a training program at Rural Human Services.

They must also show they were associated with the taking, landing, or processing of at least $5,000 worth or 10,000 pounds of groundfish in the commercial fishery.

Employees of qualifying vessel owners or commercial fish processors must have been paid at least $2,500 for at least two years between 1998 and 2000.

Woods said Rural Human Services won $48,000 for the program out of the $1.2 million allocated to the state to retrain fisheries workers.

The state was also given $300,000 for partial reimbursement to boat owners for meeting the requirements of the fishery observer program safety program.

Also, the California Department of Fish and Game will use $763,000 to fund research that will seek out ways to improve the management of the fishery.

For groundfish fishermen or plant workers wanting to enroll in the program, applications are available beginning today at Rural Human Services, 286 M Street, Suite A.

andquot;What they will do is apply, then if they qualify we will develop a training plan according to their interests and abilities.

andquot;Usually the program is one year, so we would try to keep that program to one year,andquot; Woods said.

Each qualifying applicant will take an assessment test to determine their skills and interests, then select training approved by the state Workforce Investment Act.

Possibilities include police training, barber school or other college coursework.