This page is intended to provide an overview of the CARES Act Disaster Relief Funds, with links to additional resources and state agency websites and contacts. It will continue to be updated as new information becomes available.


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.

As a next step, NOAA Fisheries will use these allocations (see below for Atlantic coast states allocations; for the full list of distributions go here) to make awards to its partners—the interstate marine fisheries commissions, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. 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. Additional information on the proportion of revenues from each sector that contributed to the total revenues used in the allocation of the $300M of CARES Act funds from NOAA Fisheries, can be found here.

Current Status

States are awaiting additional guidance for developing spend plans and no funds have yet been made available to the Commission or states. Given this, the states currently have only limited information to provide its stakeholders and request stakeholders please wait to reach out to the states until further guidance on spend plans is provided.  NOTE: This section will be frequently updated with the latest status reports.

Summary of Allocations*

State Allocation of Sec, 12005 Funding
Maine $20,308,513
New Hampshire $2,732,492
Massachusetts $28,004,176
Rhode Island $3,294,234
Connecticut $1,835,424
New York $6,750,276
New Jersey $11,337,797
Pennsylvania $3,368,086
Delaware $1,000,000
Maryland $4,125,118
Virginia $4,520,475
North Carolina $5,460,385
South Carolina $1,525,636
Georgia $1,921,832
Florida (both east and west coasts) $23,636,600
Final award amounts will be different due to Hollings and other assessments.


Along the Atlantic coast, each state will develop spend plans consistent with the CARES Act and NOAA’s guidance. 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 Commission will process payments to eligible fishery participants on behalf of the states. 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 (see below for a list of Atlantic state marine resource agencies links and their primary contacts on this issue). 

Also of note, for the purposes of Sec. 12005 funding, businesses farther down the supply chain—including vessel repair businesses, restaurants, or seafood retailers—are not considered “fishery-related businesses.”

State Marine Resource Agencies & Primary Contacts

State Agency Contact
ME Department of Marine Resources

New Hampshire Fish & Game

Cheri Patterson

Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries


Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management


Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection

Renee St. Amand renee.st.amand@ct.gov

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation


New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection


Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission


Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control


Maryland Department of Natural Resources

Virginia Marine Resources Commission

North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries

South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
Chris McDonough mcdonoughc@dnr.sc.gov
Georgia Department of Natural Resources

Tyler Jones

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission



Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Who should affected fishermen and communities contact about accessing this funding?

A. Fishery participants eligible for funding—including Tribes, commercial fishing businesses, charter/for-hire fishing businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, processors, and other fishery-related businesses—should work with their state marine fisheries management agencies  (see above table for key state contacts along the Atlantic coast) or Tribe to understand the process for applying for these funds.

Q. Can eligible fishery participants receive direct payments?

A. Direct payments are expressly allowed under Sec. 12005 of the CARES Act. The Commission’s grant application must meet the requirements of the CARES Act and reflect the appropriate use of funds and considerations as outlined in the Request for Applications, the Request for Applications letter and the allocation table provided.

Q. How long will it take for affected fishermen to get funding from the CARES Act? 

A. There are a number of steps in the process that need to occur before fishermen will begin to receive funds. First, states will need to develop spend plans consistent with the CARES Act and NOAA’s guidance. These plans will include a time period for economic losses, and a method for assessing financial impacts to industry members and/or sectors. States will not be able to provide funding for potential future losses; they will need to wait for losses to occur in order to provide financial assistance to fishermen. Once state spend plans are approved by NOAA Fisheries, money can begin to be disbursed. The CARES Act also allows the funds to be awarded on a “rolling basis,” allowing for a portion of the state’s funds to be distributed in the short term with additional funds to be distributed at a later date based on future losses.

Q. What types of fishing-related businesses are eligible for assistance?

A. For the purposes of carrying out the provisions in Section 12005 of the CARES Act, “fishery-related businesses” should be limited to commercial fishing businesses, charter/for-hire fishing businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, processors, and dealers.  Businesses farther down the supply chain—including vessel repair businesses, restaurants, or seafood retailers—are not considered “fishery-related businesses” for the purposes of this funding. NOAA Fisheries generally does not expect bait and tackle operations and gear and vessel suppliers to be eligible for Section 12005 funding. However, individual states and Tribes will have the discretion to determine how they will identify eligible fishery participants, consistent with the requirements of the CARES Act, in their spend plans.

Q. Which Tribes are eligible for assistance?

A. The definition of “fishery participant” identified in Sec. 12005 of the CARES Act, includes Tribal fishery participants. So, Tribes in coastal states with marine or anadromous fisheries and/or marine shellfish or finfish aquaculture operations are eligible for Sec. 12005 funds. Tribes in non-coastal states with freshwater fisheries will not be eligible for Sec. 12005 funds.

Q. Which types of aquaculture operations are eligible for funding?

A. Privately owned aquaculture businesses growing products in state or federal marine waters of the United States and the hatcheries that supply them are eligible for Sec. 12005 funding. This includes all molluscan shellfish and marine algae. Non-salmonid marine finfish grown in marine waters not covered by USDA are also eligible for Sec. 12005 funding.

Q. On what basis did the agency make the initial allocation decision? What data did the NOAA Fisheries use for the initial allocation decision?

A. To allocate the Sec. 12005 funds, NOAA Fisheries used a methodology that met our overriding goal to distribute the Sec. 12005 funds as quickly as possible while accounting for regional variability in the size of commercial, charter, seafood processors and dealers, and aquaculture industries.

Given the definition of “fishery participant” identified in Sec. 12005 of the CARES Act, NOAA Fisheries used readily available total annual revenue information from the commercial fishing, charter fishing, aquaculture, and seafood-related businesses of coastal states, Tribes, and territories to proportionately allocate the Sec. 12005 funding.  NOAA Fisheries also took into consideration negative impacts to subsistence, cultural, and ceremonial fisheries during the allocation process. 

NOAA Fisheries used readily available multi-year averages to estimate the total average annual revenues from commercial fishing operations, aquaculture firms, the seafood supply chain (processors, dealers, wholesalers and distributors) and charter fishing businesses from each coastal state, Tribe, and territory.

In general, NOAA Fisheries used a 5-year average of annual commercial fishing revenues as a baseline for this sector. Available multi-year averages of aquaculture revenues were also captured in the estimates of average commercial fisheries revenues.

Average annual landings revenue data from Alaska, New England, and Mid-Atlantic states were adjusted to attribute landings in those regions to a vessel owner’s state of residence to better reflect where fishing income accrues. These adjustments were made by determining the proportion of landings in a particular state attributed to vessel owners residing in another state and distributing revenue accordingly. A similar adjustment was also applied to at-sea processors on the West Coast but was not applied broadly to other fisheries on the West Coast or Pacific Islands, Southeast, and Gulf of Mexico fisheries, because comparable state-by-state vessel ownership data was not readily available. In addition, because those regions represent a relatively small proportion of the nation’s total commercial fishery landings revenues and are smaller in scale relative to Alaska fisheries and the West Coast at-sea processors, adjustments in those regions would not significantly impact the overall allocation across all applicable states, Tribes, and territories. 

Average annual value-added estimates from the seafood sector (i.e., processors, dealers, and wholesalers/distributors) were calculated using NOAA Fisheries’ Commercial Fishing & Seafood Industry Economic Impact Model while Alaska and West Coast value added estimates were calculated from regional models. Multipliers were applied to commercial fishing and aquaculture operations revenues to account for the value-add generated by these components of the seafood supply chain (e.g., processing crabs into crab meat). A multiplier was also applied to available multi-year averages of Tribal and territorial commercial fishing operations to account for commercial, subsistence, cultural, and ceremonial fisheries.

Furthermore, a 5-year average of for-hire angler trip expenditures was used to calculate average annual for-hire fishing revenues.

There are some exceptions where a multi-year average across all states was not available (e.g., select shellfish aquaculture) or the sources of data for an individual state or territory varied from the general data streams described above (e.g., based on data availability, for-hire revenues in Hawaii and Alaska were obtained from cost-earnings studies rather than angler expenditures.)

In addition to allocating the funds proportionately based on readily available total average annual revenue data, NOAA Fisheries established a minimum and maximum funding level that each state and territory received ($1 million and $50million, respectively).

Q. Who will be responsible for determining if fishery losses exceed the 35 percent standard and applying for assistance?

A. Given the broad range of fisheries and entities affected across multiple jurisdictions, it will be important to provide states flexibility in determining how they will identify which fishery participants meet the requirements described in Sec. 12005(b)(1)-(2). Thus, each state/Tribe will be required to determine how they will verify which fishery participants meet the threshold of economic revenue losses greater than 35 percent as compared to the prior five year average or negative impacts to subsistence, cultural, or ceremonial fisheries. The spend plans will provide details on their proposed process for making these determinations.

Additional Resources


Small Business Association (SBA) - https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources
Source page for small business guidance and loan resources. Includes links to coronavirus funding options include loan and debt relief options. Includes the latest updates.

U.S. Department of Labor - https://www.dol.gov/coronavirus/unemployment-insurance

Information on unemployment insurance relief during COVID-19 outbreak with information on how to apply, a detailed FAQ, and links to state-specific information.

Sources: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/commerce-secretary-announces-allocation-300-million-cares-act-funding and https://safmc.net/covid-19-resources/.

Text revised to focus on Atlantic coast process.

Last updated on May 22, 2020