Doug Stewart / National Fisherman

USA - Additional $255 million aid from CARES Act; NMFS extends observer waivers

An additional $255 million in fisheries assistance funding is coming from Congressional CARES Act authorization of last year to help fishermen and related businesses hit by covid-19 income losses, NMFS announced Thursday.

Provided through the Congress’ Consolidated Appropriations Act of 202, the funding will be allocated to states and territories with coastal and marine fishery participants affected by the pandemic.

“Our priority is to award these funds as quickly as possible using existing processes established under the CARES Act,” said Paul Doremus, the acting assistant administrator for NMFS. “As a next step, we will use these allocations to provide additional funds to our partners – the interstate marine fisheries commissions, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands –to disburse funds to address direct or indirect fishery-related losses as well as subsistence, cultural, or ceremonial impacts related to covid-19.”

The commissions then will work with each state and territory to revise their prior spend plans to be consistent with the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the CARES Act, and NOAA’s guidance. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will submit spend plans to the agency directly.

All spend plans must describe the main categories for funding, including direct payments, fishery-related infrastructure, and fishery-related education. The funding will address direct and indirect covid-19 impacts to eligible fishery participants, including:

• Commercial fishermen

• Charter businesses

• Qualified aquaculture operations

• Subsistence, cultural, and ceremonial users

• Processors

• Other fishery-related businesses

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