An extra $255 million in fisheries assistance funding is being made available to US states and territories where coastal and marine fisheries have been negatively affected by Covid-19.
NOAA Fisheries has announced the allocation of this additional $255 million in fisheries assistance funding provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.
“Our priority is to award these funds as quickly as possible using existing processes established under the CARES Act,” said Paul Doremus, Acting Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries.
“As a next step, we will use these allocations to provide additional funds to our partners – the interstate marine fisheries commissions, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands – to disburse 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 and territory to revise their prior spend plans to be consistent with the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the CARES Act, and NOAA’s guidance. Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands will submit 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.
The funding will address direct and indirect COVID-19 impacts to eligible fishery participants, including commercial fishermen, charter businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, subsistence, cultural, and ceremonial users, processors and other fishery-related businesses
Congress also designated $30 million for all federally recognised Tribes in coastal states and the Great Lakes and $15 million for Great Lakes states. NOAA aims to work with state partners and Tribes to determine the approach in allocating this funding to eligible fishery participants as quickly as possible.
Similar to the first round of CARES Act funding, once a spend plan has been approved by NOAA, the agency anticipates that the three commissions will review applications. They will then process payments to eligible fishery participants on behalf of the states and territories, though states will have the option to process payments themselves.
Eligible fishery participants should work with their state or territory’s marine fisheries management agencies to understand the process for applying for these funds.