The U.S. Commerce Department has declared a national fishery disaster in New England, opening the door for tens of millions of dollars in relief funds for fishermen.

U.S. Sen. John Kerry said he's secured a commitment from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to include $100 million for fishermen and fishing communities in emergency assistance legislation.

He said the job after monday's declaration is to fight for the money in a potentially reluctant congress.

Kerry and others have long pursued the disaster declaration, saying the industry is being devastated by federal fishing regulations. They say fishermen have been following rules designed to stop overfishing, but key fish stocks continue to decline, mandating ruinous catch limits.