The Secretary of Commerce announced the allocation of $300 million in fisheries assistance funding provided by Sec. 12005 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also called the CARES Act, to states, Tribes, and territories with coastal and marine fishery participants who have been negatively affected by COVID–19. In Florida, $23,636,600 has been allocated.
“This relief package will support America’s fishermen and our seafood sector’s recovery,” said U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “Thank you President Trump, Secretary Mnuchin, and our Congressional leaders of both parties for your work to pass the historic legislation that is bringing much needed relief to America’s fishermen. This Administration stands with the men and women working to provide healthy and safe seafood during this uniquely challenging time, while our U.S. fisheries work to continue to support 1.7 million jobs and to generate $200 billion in annual sales. The nation is grateful to our fishermen for their commitment.”
As a next step, NOAA Fisheries will use these allocations to make awards to its partners, including the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission. They will disburse the funds to address direct or indirect fishery-related losses as well as subsistence, cultural, or ceremonial impacts related to COVID-19.
The commissions then will work with each state, Tribe, and territory to develop spend plans consistent with the CARES Act and NOAA’s guidance. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will submit award applications and spend plans to the agency directly. All spend plans must describe the main categories for funding, including direct payments, fishery-related infrastructure, and fishery-related education that address direct and indirect COVID-19 impacts to commercial fishermen, charter businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, subsistence/cultural/ceremonial users, processors, and other fishery-related businesses. Once a spend plan has been approved by NOAA, the agency anticipates that the three Commissions will review applications and process payments to eligible fishery participants on behalf of the states and territories. The states will have the option to process payments themselves.
Fishery participants eligible for funding include Tribes, commercial fishing businesses, charter/for-hire fishing businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, processors, and other fishery-related businesses. They should work with their state marine fisheries management agencies, territories, or Tribe to understand the process for applying for these funds.