The Baker-Polito Administration announced that the Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) is sending applications to seafood processors, commercial fishermen, shellfish farmers, and for-hire recreational vessel owners who are eligible for a total of $23.8 million in relief funds through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES).
“The fishing and seafood industries are integral parts of the economy, history, and culture of Massachusetts, and have suffered significant losses during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We were pleased to coordinate the distribution of $28 million through the CARES Act last year and our Administration remains dedicated to supporting these industries with this second round of federal relief funding.”
“The fishing industry was particularly hard hit during the pandemic, with very limited exports of seafood and a big downturn in restaurant sales,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “The distribution of an additional $23.8 million will give needed relief to fishermen and fishing related businesses who have been severely impacted by the pandemic.”
The distribution of funds under the CARES Act will mitigate losses incurred last year during the difficult period of reduced demand for seafood and for-hire fishing services. The payments are expected to be completed by the end of September to eligible businesses that suffered losses in revenues during prescribed periods in 2020.
“The Baker-Polito Administration is grateful to all the industry stakeholders who worked closely with us in developing fair and equitable plans for both rounds of federal relief funding,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “This funding is critical to the Commonwealth’s commercial fishing industry, which includes commercial fishermen, shellfish farmers, charter boat operators, and seafood processors.”
“I wish to echo Secretary Theoharides’ thanks to the many stakeholders in the commercial fishing industry and recognize the staff of the Division of Marine Fisheries who have worked so hard to make Massachusetts first in the nation in distributing relief through this program,” said Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Ron Amidon.
Applications for this round of funding are being mailed on Tuesday, July 20, 2021to eligible permit holders in the four industry sectors. All applications must be returned to DMF, postmarked no later than August 28, 2021. Detailed information and updates on the program can be viewed here. DMF will maintain separate web pages for each sector, including eligibility requirements and an applicant list showing the status of each application.
To assist industry participants with their applications, DMF staff will be available through email, phone, and will hold regional in-person workshops at the following times and places:
• August 11, 2021, from 1:00 to 7:00 PM: Cape Cod Commercial Fisherman’s Alliance, 1566 Main St., Chatham, MA 02633
• August 12, 2021, from 1:00 to 7:00 PM: Mass. Lobstermen’s Association, 8 Otis Place, Scituate, MA 02066
• August 17, 2021, from 1:00 to 7:00 PM: DMF New Bedford Office, 836 S Rodney French Blvd, New Bedford, MA 02744
• August 18, 2021, from 1:00 to 7:00 PM: DMF Gloucester Office, 30 Emerson Ave, Gloucester, MA 01930
On March 29, 2021, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce announced the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which provides an additional $255 million in fisheries assistance funding to support activities previously authorized under 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 has been allocated $23.8 million, the third-highest allocation in the country, behind Alaska and Washington.
While much of the criteria for funding eligibility was established by federal law and guidelines, DMF sought stakeholder input to create the most fair and practical approaches for distributing funds. Stakeholder input was utilized in the development of the program through Industry Advisory Groups that included 29 participants from the seafood processing, commercial fishing, aquaculture, and for-hire fishing industries.