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Mass CARES Act Fisheries Relief

Massachusetts has been allocated $28 million from the CARES Act for fisheries relief. Updated as of 4 pm, May 12, 2020.

On May 7, 2020, the U.S. 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. Massachusetts has been allocated $28 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 be working through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) to finalize the required disaster relief spending plan to be submitted to NOAA Fisheries. The Massachusetts plan will be developed through a public process with significant industry participation. Once this relief plan is approved, Massachusetts will work with NOAA Fisheries, ASMFC, and the seafood industry to get the funding out as soon as possible. 

This website will be continually maintained with the most up-to-date information available to help guide impacted industry participants through the application and dispersal process.  MA DMF will also widely circulate notification by email, permit holder mailings and through local media outlets when we are ready to receive applications from eligible fishery participants impacted by COVID-19. 

Here is some basic information about the funding to-date: 

  • How will Massachusetts receive its $28 million allocation of funds?  

    NOAA Fisheries will pass the funds to Massachusetts from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.  All funds must be dispersed by September 2021. 
  • What businesses are eligible?  

    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.  
  • When can businesses apply?  

    After NOAA Fisheries approves the Massachusetts spending plan, this site will be updated with full application instructions and eligibility criteria. Currently, Massachusetts is not yet accepting applications. 
  • 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.  NOAA is requesting all spending plans be submitted to their agency by August 2020, however MA DMF anticipates having a spending plan in place prior to that time. 
  • What can I do until I can apply? 

    • Check this website for updates. 

    • Sign up for MA DMF’s email notifications. MA DMF will be setting up a Subscription Topic specific to the CARES Act. Coming soon. 

    • For answers to specific questions, please email us at


For additional CARES Act information, visit: