Originally Posted Apr. 3, 2020
Do you work within the fishing industry? The CARES Act appropriated $300 million in direct assistance for commercial, charter, and subsistence fishermen, processors, fishery dependent businesses and coastal communities.
On May 7, 2020, 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.
Section 12005 of the CARES Act authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to provide $300 million in appropriated funds to assist fishery participants affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID–19). NOAA Fisheries understands the urgent need for these funds, and our overriding goal is to distribute the assistance as quickly as possible. To that end, we are working daily with the Department and our federal partners to finalize a process to expedite the distribution of Sec. 12005 funds, consistent with the direction provided by Congress. We will post details about the process for stakeholders and partners here.
Other provisions in the CARES Act will help NOAA maintain continuity of operations and support the continued success of our nation’s fisheries. The $20 million identified for NOAA is essential for continued provision of life saving services and for keeping our workforce safe.
Status as of 8/5/20:
Of the $300 million, Alaska has been awarded $50,000,000 for our Fisheries. The Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) has been working with the states, tribes, and US territories to provide guidance on developing spend plans consistent with the CARES Act and NOAA’s guidance. Spend plans must describe the main category for funding, including direct payments, fishery-related infrastructure, fishery-related education that address direct and indirect COVID-19 impacts to commercial fishers, charter businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, subsistence/cultural/ceremonial users, processors, and dealers.
Please note, for the purposes of Sec. 12005 funding, businesses farther down the supply chain including vessel repair business, restaurants, or seafood retailers are not considered “fishery-related businesses.”
Each spend plan must be reviewed and approved by NOAA. Upon receipt and approval of individual spend plans, the Commission staff will work with Alaska to communicate and disseminate; information, applications, and other correspondences to fishery participants for requesting funds. PSMFC will work with the entities on the best avenues for distributing correspondences using various associations and agency contacts. Specific deadlines will be established in which all applications must be received; it will be noted that late applications will not be accepted.
Find out more Information here:
Updates to this information will be made as information becomes available.
Frequently Asked Questions (Last updated 8/6/20)
Who is eligible?
• Commercial fishermen, charter businesses, aquaculture businesses, processors, subsistence fishery users, tribes and other fishery-related businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Fishermen are required to have a valid Alaska Limited Entry Permit or Interim Use Permit in 2019 and 2020.
• All businesses must have incurred a 35% revenue loss compared to their past 5-year average.
• Fisheries must be marine-based or target anadromous fish.
• Subsistence fisheries must demonstrate some negative impact.
• Personal Use fisheries are not listed as eligible within the CARES Act language.
The following people/businesses are NOT eligible for the program:
• Businesses that are a secondary income source or part time endeavor
• Out of State businesses
• Businesses which have filed for bankruptcy
• Businesses who do not otherwise meet the eligibility criteria.
• Commercial fishermen who did not actively fish in 2019.
• Commercial fishermen that did not renew their permit and did not receive a gear card for 2020.
• Commercial fishermen who hold a permit for a fishery that was closed in 2019 and 2020.
• Commercial fishermen that emergency transferred their permit and did not actively fish themselves in 2019 and/or 2020."
Will a business be ineligible for this assistance if they’ve already received funding elsewhere
• No – Receiving assistance from other CARES Act assistance programs will not make a fishery participant ineligible for the fisheries assistance funding. However, fisheries participants receiving CARES Act relief funding will need to certify that, should they receive any additional COVID-19 related Federal financial assistance and/or is able to collect traditional revenue, the sum of all funds will not exceed the participant’s average revenue earned across the previous five years.
• These funds will be audited.
Will these funds be forgivable?
• Yes – Participants will not be required to pay back the funds in the future if they meet all requirements. However, if funds received and fishery income cumulatively equal more than your five-year average, some funds may need to be returned. This is a federal requirement.
How will funds be distributed?
• NOAA Fisheries will distribute Alaska’s funds to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC).
• The state will work with PSMFC to develop and submit a spending plan to NOAA Fisheries.
• NOAA Fisheries must approve the spending plan before any distributions can be made to eligible fishery participants.
Are direct payments allowed under the CARES Act?
• Yes, direct payments are expressly allowed.
I have been a fisheries participant for less than five years, am I still eligible?
• Yes, businesses that have been participating for fewer than the five years prior to 2020 are still eligible under the CARES Act.
• Method for calculating loss in this situation has yet to be determined.
How do I apply?
• At this time, an application process has not been finalized. The application will be released as soon as possible.
Is there are deadline for fund distribution?
• Yes – Section 12005 of the CARES Act specifies that all funds must be expended by September 30, 2021 but Congress would like to see all funds expended by September 2020.
• However, the state understands that many fisheries are currently underway, or have not yet been prosecuted, and is working with the PSMFC and NOAA Fisheries to ensure all fisheries are eligible and that applicants have adequate time to submit applications.
Other Helpful Sources Specifically for Alaska's Commercial Fishermen
Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association: https://www.bbrsda.com/covid19
State of Alaska's AK CARES Act program Contact: Matt Fagnani firstname.lastname@example.org
SWAMC: https://swamc.org/issues-advocacy/covid19-resources/; email@example.com or 907-242-4077.
Instructional Video on correctly filling out AK Cares Grant Application: Click Here(link is external)
(Video courtesy of the Alaska Small Business Development Center)