Overview

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.

Introduction

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.

To allocate the Sec. 12005 funds, 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. Additional details regarding the sources of revenue data are included here. 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

While no funds have yet been made available to the Commission or states, the states, in coordination with their seafood dealers/processors, commercial, for-hire and marine aquaculture industries, are in the process of developing their spend plans. It is anticipated most state spend plans will be drafted by the states by mid-July. Those plans will still need to be approved by NOAA before money can be distributed to those impacted. NOTE: This section will be frequently updated with the latest status reports.

Summary of Allocations*

State Allocation of Sec, 12005 Funding
Maine $20,146,310
New Hampshire $2,710,668
Massachusetts $27,780,507
Rhode Island $3,267,923
Connecticut $1,820,764
New York $6,696,362
New Jersey $11,247,242
Pennsylvania $3,341,184
Delaware $992,013
Maryland $4,092,171
Virginia $4,484,370
North Carolina $5,416,773
South Carolina $1,513,451
Georgia $1,906,483
Florida (both east and west coasts) $23,447,815
* State allocations in the above table have been adjusted to account for administration fees as allowed under the CARES Act. NOAA Fisheries’ administrative fees (~0.7%) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission’s administrative fees (0.1%) are significantly below the CARES Act maximum fee of 2%.  These fees will be used to reimburse expenses for the allocation and distribution of the funding. 

Process

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
https://www.maine.gov/dmr/about/COVIDInformation.html
 

New Hampshire Fish & Game
https://www.wildlife.state.nh.us/about/covid19.html

Cheri Patterson
Cheri.Patterson@wildlife.nh.gov

Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries
https://www.mass.gov/service-details/mass-cares-act-fisheries-relief

dmf.caresrelief@mass.gov

Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM)
http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/media/covid19.php

 

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
https://portal.ct.gov/DEEP/COVID-19/DEEP-COVID-19-Response

CT DEEP and DOAG are seeking public feedback on the State's Draft Spend Plan. To submit comments, please send email deep.marine.fisheries@ct.gov or send a letter to DEEP Marine Fisheries, P.O. Box 719, Old Lyme CT 06371. Please submit comments by July 12.

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

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
https://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/7903.html

 

New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
https://www.njfishandwildlife.com/cares_info.htm

njfisheriesaid@dep.nj.gov

Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission
https://www.pa.gov/guides/responding-to-covid-19/

 

Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control
https://dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/coronavirus/ 

 

Maryland Department of Natural Resources
https://dnr.maryland.gov/Fisheries/Pages/cares_act.aspx

caresact.dnr@maryland.gov
Virginia Marine Resources Commission
https://mrc.virginia.gov/Notices/2020/VMRC-COVID-19-DISASTER-RELIEF.shtm 
covid19relief@mrc.virginia.gov

North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries
http://portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/cares-act

 
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
http://www.dnr.sc.gov/covid19faqs.html
Chris McDonough mcdonoughc@dnr.sc.gov
Georgia Department of Natural Resources
https://coastalgadnr.org/CARES

Tyler Jones
tyler.jones@dnr.ga.gov

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

https://myfwc.com/conservation/special-initiatives/caresact/

 

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” primarily include commercial fishing businesses, charter/for-hire fishing businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, processors, and dealers. States and Tribes have the discretion to determine whether marine bait and tackle operations and marine gear and vessel suppliers are eligible for Sec. 12005 assistance in their spend plans, consistent with the requirements of the CARES Act. 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.

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.

Q. What are the next steps? When and how do Sec. 12005 funds get to the recipient

A: NOAA Fisheries is currently working to execute and distribute the fisheries assistance funding provided by Sec. 12005 of the CARES Act as expeditiously as possible, while ensuring the proper level of executive oversight of these appropriated federal funds.

NOAA Fisheries is using the Sec. 12005 allocations to make non-competitive grant awards to the Interstate Marine Fisheries Commissions (Commissions), U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Between now and the start of the grants, states, Tribes, and territories will be working to develop their respective spend plans for the funding they will be receiving.

Each state will develop a spend plan that determines how it will verify which fishery participants meet the requirements described in Sec. 12005(b)(1)-(2) (i.e., economic revenue losses greater than 35 percent as compared to the prior five year average or negative impacts to subsistence, cultural, or ceremonial fisheries). States will submit their spend plans through their respective Commission for NOAA’s approval. Spend plan submissions and approvals will occur on a rolling basis. This step in the process takes time as each state will have its own process for spend plan development. There are also special considerations that Commissions and states need to take into account, such as potentially staggering the disbursal of funds within their spend plans to account for different fisheries, fishing seasons, and industry sectors.

Once NOAA Fisheries approves a state spend plan, it anticipates the Commissions will disburse the payments to eligible fishery participants on behalf of the states unless otherwise specified by the state. This will allow the Commissions to distribute the assistance to eligible fishery participants at the earliest date possible.

Additional Resources

National
https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/commerce-secretary-announces-allocation-300-million-cares-act-funding

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 June 24, 2020