SHELLABRATING: Oyster shells are collected at Parsons Seafood to create new grounds for oysters to grow. A Sea Grant may provide money to sow large oysters at designated reefs. Pat Johnson / The SandPaper

NJ - $11.3 Million in Pandemic Aid to State Fisheries Discussed

Disbursement of over $11.3 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was discussed at the Aug. 17 meeting of the Atlantic Coast section of the N.J. Shellfisheries Council.

Led by John Maxwell of Atlantic County, 26 members met virtually to discuss various topics with state Bureau of Shellfisheries representatives.

At the top of the list is the distribution of $11,337,797 New Jersey will receive from the CARES Act to assist commercial fisheries that have been negatively affected by the pandemic.

Joseph Cimino from the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Marine Fisheries Administration said they have sent a required spending plan to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for review. The plan would allocate 50 percent of the funds received to commercial fisheries and aquaculture, 35 percent to processors and dealers and 10 percent to for-hire recreational and charter fleets.

Cimino said he hoped the spending plan would be approved by NOAA in September. Once approved, he said, local fisheries have a 45-day window to apply for funds. The DEP will help with applications that will be submitted online. Cimino urged those in attendance to have their 2015 through 2019 records in order to prove a greater than 35 percent loss of revenue in 2020 between March 1 to June 1 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and emergency.

“Make sure you have the licenses you need for those years,” he said. “If there are any funds left over from the first round, then there may be the potential for a second check,” he added.

Other businesses that are eligible to receive assistance are commercial fish/shellfish dealers/wholesalers, and manufacturers.

Businesses that have been operating for fewer than five years may be eligible to receive assistance once that has been calculated by the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Administration.

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