CARES Act fisheries assistance funding

Shrimp boat seen at dusk

Georgia to receive $1.92 million in fishery relief

The U.S. Secretary of Commerce announced May 7, 2020, the allocation of $1.92 million to the state of Georgia in fisheries assistance funding provided by Sec. 12005 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also called the CARES Act, to coastal and marine fishery participants who have been negatively affected by COVID–19.

Georgia, represented by the Coastal Resources Division (CRD) of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, is developing a plan to distribute the $1.92 million allocation that meets the guidelines laid out in the CARES Act. 

The plan 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, aquaculture operations, processors, and other fishery-related businesses. 

Payments will be processed after NOAA Fisheries approves Georgia’s plan.

Fishery participants eligible for payments include commercial fishing businesses, charter/for-hire fishing businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, and processors. 

Please continue to check back on this page for updates regarding Georgia's plan (last update May 8, 2020).


Click here to read the NOAA Fisheries press release regarding the allocation.

More information regarding NOAA Fisheries COVID-related activities can be found here
 


CARES Act Funding FAQ (Provided by NOAA Fisheries)

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, territories, 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. Each Commissions’ 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. It will vary, however we expect that Sec. 12005 funding will be disbursed more quickly than fishery disaster assistance funds because the CARES Act language does not require the Secretary of Commerce to declare a fishery disaster. The CARES Act also allows the funds to be awarded on a “rolling basis,” which will enable NOAA Fisheries to execute the funds more nimbly in partnership with the states, Tribes, and territories.

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, Tribes, and territories 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?

A. Given the definition of “fishery participant” identified in Sec. 12005 of the CARES Act, the agency used readily available total annual revenue information from the commercial fishing, charter fishing, aquaculture, and processor/seafood sectors of coastal states, Tribes, and territories to proportionately allocate Sec. 12005 funding. NOAA Fisheries also took into consideration negative impacts to subsistence, cultural, and ceremonial fisheries during the allocation process. In addition, NOAA Fisheries established a minimum and maximum funding level ($1M and $50M, 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 and territories flexibility in determining how they will identify which fishery participants meet the requirements described in Sec. 12005(b)(1)-(2). Thus, each state/Tribe/territory 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.