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, Tribes, 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 has been 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) will once again work with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) to finalize a required Fisheries Relief Spending Plan. The Massachusetts plan will be similar to our Round One Relief Plan, with additional input from Sector working groups. Using this relief plan, Massachusetts will work with NOAA Fisheries, ASMFC, and the seafood industry to send out applications and get the funding out as soon as possible. Applications will be mailed out in Sector batches once NOAA approves our relief plan.
All funds from the first round of MA CARES Act Fisheries Relief were distributed by November 2020. You can visit the information from the previous round of funding here.
• Working Group meetings are planned for additional input on Round Two CARES funding.
• Refer to each sector's individual CARES Act Fisheries Relief page for program overview, as well as Round One applicant lists:
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 are planned to be dispersed by September 2021.
• What businesses are eligible? Division of Marine Fisheries permit holders, including tribes, 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 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 boat yards 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. Please check back for updates on mailings for each sector.
• 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Advisory Panel and Sector Working Groups
During Round One of CARES Act Fisheries Relief, DMF assembled an industry‐based 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 sector‐specific 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. These working groups will meet again 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.
CARES Relief Links
Listed below are links about this funding announcement and additional CARES Relief opportunities for individuals and small businesses.