Mass CARES Act Fisheries Relief

Massachusetts was allocated approximately $23 million in a second round of CARES Act Fisheries Relief from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. Updated as of 2 p.m., February 3, 2022.

On March 29, 2021, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce announced the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 would provide an additional allocation of $255 million in fisheries assistance funding to support activities previously authorized under Sec. 12005 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also called the CARES Act, to states and territories with coastal and marine fishery participants who have been negatively affected by COVID–19. In this second round of COVID-19 fisheries relief funding, Massachusetts was allocated approximately $23 million, the third-highest allocation in the country, behind Alaska and Washington. 

The Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Marine Fisheries (MA DMF) once again worked with the seafood industry and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) to finalize the Fisheries Relief Spending Plan required by NOAA Fisheries. The Massachusetts Round Two CARES Act Fisheries Relief Spending Plan was similar to the spending plan we used in Round One, recrafted with additional input from Sector Working Groups to adjust eligibility timeframes, qualifying more new applicants for relief in this round. Using this plan, MA DMF worked diligently with NOAA Fisheries and ASMFC to get the funding out in a few months. For Round Two distribution, all eligible applicants were qualified at the same time for all four sectors: Seafood Processors & Wholesale Dealers, For-hire (charter and head boat), Commercial Harvest, and Aquaculture. Applications were mailed July 20, 2021, with an application deadline of August 28, 2021. MA DMF created a FAQ for Round 2 CARES Act Fisheries Relief Applications to assist fishery participants with their applications and conducted four workshops in August 2021 in Chatham, Scituate, New Bedford, and Gloucester to provide in-person application assistance.

All funds from the first round of this relief program were disbursed by November 2020. You can visit the information from the previous round of funding here.


2/3/2022: On February 2, 2022, ASMFC mailed all 1099 forms to recipients who received a Round 2 CARES Act relief payment. If there are any issues with your form, please email us at

10/19/2021: Due to an unexpected technical issue with ASMFC’s financial institution, some of you may have had difficulty depositing your Round 2 CARES Act relief checks. The issue has been resolved and ASMFC mailed new checks to all CARES recipients who contacted DMF or ASMFC about issuing new checks. These checks should have arrived by October 20, 2021. ASMFC provided a letter of attestation that can be found here

Refer to each sector's individual CARES Act Fisheries Relief page for program overview and Round Two applicant lists:

Commercial Harvest
For-hire Charter and Head Boat
Seafood Processor and Wholesale Dealer

Here is some basic information about the funding:

• How will Massachusetts receive its $23 million allocation of funds?  NOAA Fisheries will pass the funds to Massachusetts through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.  All funds must be finalized by September 30, 2021. 

• What businesses are eligible?  Division of Marine Fisheries permit holders, including commercial fishing businesses, charter/for-hire fishing businesses, aquaculture businesses, and seafood wholesalers and processors whose residence is in Massachusetts. 

• Does every eligible business qualify for funding?  No. Only businesses that suffered a greater than 35% loss caused by COVID-19 relative to previous years will qualify for these funds. 

• What businesses are NOT eligible?  Seafood retail markets, restaurants, tackle shops, tackle manufacturers, and boatyards are all ineligible.  Any commercial fishing businesses or operations involving freshwater species are also ineligible.  

• What is a spending plan?  A spending plan explains to NOAA how the funds will be given out and the metrics that will be used to qualify each applicant for the funds. A spend plan must be in place before MA DMF can send out applications.

• When can businesses apply?  Applications will be mailed to all potentially eligible fishery participants to the address on their DMF-issued permit (for seafood processors, aquaculture, commercial fishing, and for-hire charter boat businesses). Applications will include instructions to fill out the required information, due dates, and documentation needed for appeals, if necessary.

• If I received other CARES Relief, am I still eligible to receive relief from this program?  Yes, as long as all CARES Relief combined (PPP or SBA grants, extra $600 unemployment relief/wk, this Fisheries Relief, and any USDA Covid-related relief) does not make you more than 'whole' for calendar year 2020. More than ‘whole’ would mean that all the Relief, combined with your traditional revenue, brings your business above 100% (equating to an increase in revenue as compared to an average year). Any SBA or PPP loans received should only be factored in if you do not have to pay the money back. If you have to pay the money back, it does not count towards this equation. Relief received from the Seafood Tariff Relief Program does not count in this 'make more than whole' equation since it is not Covid-related.

• Do I have to pay this relief money back?  No. This relief money is not a loan, however, it is taxable. 

• How does Round Two funding differ from Round One funding? For the most part, there is no difference. Both rounds of funding have to meet the same federally-mandated criteria, however, there may be some different parameters set for each Sector based on working group feedback. 

• How do I know that DMF has received my application(s) for Round Two? You can check each Sector's individual webpage (listed above) for a Round Two applicant list. This list will have status updates as applications are received and payments are processed. If you have any questions about your application, please email us at

Advisory Panel and Sector Working Groups

During Round One of CARES Act Fisheries Relief, DMF assembled an industrybased advisory panel to guide the development and administration of this relief program. The advisory panel members are representatives from the various affected industry fishing sectors. In June 2020, the advisory panel met virtually to discuss eligibility criteria, proposed allocations of relief monies by sector, potential challenges in qualifying businesses and distributing funding, and the development of sectorspecific working groups to develop spending plans for Round One funding.

Four sector-specific working groups were established for the purpose of dispersing Round One of CARES Relief: Commercial Harvest, For-hire, Aquaculture, and Seafood Processor. Both the industry-based advisory panel as well as the sector-specific working groups were reconvened to discuss these same elements for the Round Two spend plans.

Advisory panel members, sector working group members, and meeting notes from Round One of CARES Act Fisheries Relief can be found here. Meeting summaries and presentations can be found on the sector-specific pages for Round TwoCommercial HarvestFor-hire Charter and Head BoatAquaculture, and Seafood Processor and Wholesale Dealer. The meeting summary for the advisory panel can be found below. 

Additional Resources

CARES Relief Links

Listed below are links about this funding announcement and additional CARES Relief opportunities for individuals and small businesses.

Additional Resources

Contact   for Mass CARES Act Fisheries Relief

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