The Commonwealth’s Division of Marine Fisheries is distrubuting $27.8 million in federal disaster relief funding to mitigate the financial impacts to the fishing and seafood industries from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) worked with fishing industry stakeholders and legislators to develop a plan to distribute the federal fisheries assistance, which has now been approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
In March, the CARES Act was signed into law providing $300 million of aid for the seafood industry with $27.8 million coming to Massachusetts, the third highest of all coastal states. The funds were allocated among the states based on the relative contributions to the economy of four distinct sectors: commercial fishing, marine aquaculture, seafood processing, and for-hire (party and charter boats) fishing businesses.
Eligible recipients include tribes, commercial fishing businesses, charter/for-hire fishing businesses, aquaculture businesses, and seafood wholesalers and processors whose residence is in Massachusetts who have suffered at least a 35% loss of revenue due to the ongoing pandemic.
Each state was required to submit a spending plan for the disbursement of its allocated funds following certain federal guidelines. DMF worked with an industry‐based advisory panel, including coastal legislators, on the development and administration of the spending plan, with members from the various affected industry fishing sectors.
The resulting spending plan has allocated funds to each of the four industry sectors, proportional to the scale of each sector:
- Seafood Processors – $13.8 million
- Commercial Fishermen – $11.8 million
- Aquaculturists – $1.2 million
- For-Hire Boats – $1 million
Applications will be mailed over the next month to all potentially eligible fishery participants to the address on their DMF-issued permit. Applications will include instructions to fill out the required information, due dates, and documentation needed for appeals, if necessary. More information on the CARES Act funding and how to apply can be found on DMF’s website.