On May 7, 2020, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the allocation of $300 million in federal assistance to coastal states, tribes and territories for distribution to participants in the fishery industry who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The relief is provided under Section 12005 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Funding may be available to persons, fishing communities or businesses (including charter or for-hire fishing businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, processors or other fishery-related businesses) who have been negatively affected. For purposes of this relief, businesses such as seafood restaurants, retailers and vessel repair companies do not qualify as eligible fishery participants. The CARES Act provides that businesses who have sustained revenue losses of at least 35% compared to their prior five-year average may obtain funding. . The appropriate timespan for calculation of revenue losses is not specified in the statute. Absent further guidance from the U.S. Department of Commerce, the particulars of these revenue calculations may be left to the discretion of the individual state agencies who disburse the funds.
Among the states receiving funding allocations are North Carolina ($5,460,385), Georgia ($1,921,832) and South Carolina ($1,525,636).
States will now work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to develop plans to use and distribute the allocated funds. Persons or businesses interested in seeking relief should contact their state marine fisheries management agency
The summary of allocations and additional details from the NOAA as to the funding process are available here.