COVID-19 Update for Fishing Community

WPRFMC is actively monitoring and adjusting to the COVID-19 national health crisis. Ensuring the health and safety of our employees, partners and broader fishing community during this crisis is a priority. We remain fully operational with much of our workforce teleworking. Most of our meetings will be held via teleconference but check out our meeting page often for updates. We will continue to fulfill our mission, managing the nation’s marine fisheries resources.

The COVID-19 related financial assistance information below is provided to help fishermen, fishing communities and seafood businesses that may be experiencing negative impacts from the pandemic and related government actions.

Fishery participants are urged to notify the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) of their impacts by sending a message to nmfs.covid-19@noaa.gov.

(Click on the links below to learn more)

CARES Act and Other Fishing Assistance Related to COVID-19

Economic Assistance

COVID-19 Financial Assistance Resources by Island Area

What the US Government is Doing

Executive Order on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth

 COVID News Articles of Fisheries Interest by Island Area

 CARES Act and Other Fishing Assistance Related to COVID-19

On March 27, the House passed a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (HR 748). It includes $300 million in funding for fisheries and aquaculture. Section 12005 of the CARES Act stipulates that funds are authorized to aid tribal, subsistence, commercial and charter fishery participants affected by the novel coronavirus. This section of the bill is aimed at supporting independent operators who are not otherwise covered by agriculture disaster assistance programs. To be eligible for relief, participants must have “revenue losses greater than 35 percent as compared to the prior five-year average revenue, or any negative impacts to subsistence, cultural, or ceremonial fisheries.” Funds may be awarded on a rolling basis “and within a fishing season to ensure rapid delivery of funds,” which will remain available until Sept. 30, 2021.

In addition to Section 12005, the bill provides $4 billion to cargo carriers, which help the seafood industry in moving product; $1,200 in relief for Americans with an income below $75,000 per year; adds $600/week to unemployment benefits for four months; gives $100 billion to hospitals and health providers and increases Medicare reimbursements for treating the coronavirus; gives $750 million to food banks, to Puerto Rico and the other territories for food assistance, and to programs for food distribution on American Indian reservations; makes $500 billion of loans or investments to businesses, states and municipalities, and $32 billion in grants to the airline industry; provides mortgage relief; and delays student loan payments. A detailed analysis is available on the Saving Seafood website.

Section 12005. Assistance to fishery participants

  • In General: The Secretary of Commerce is authorized to provide assistance to Tribal, subsistence, commercial, and charter fishery participants affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID–19), which may include direct relief payments.
  • Fishery participants: For the purposes of this section, fishery participants include Tribes, persons, fishing communities, aquaculture businesses not otherwise eligible for assistance under part 1416 of title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations for losses related to COVID–19, processors, or other fishery-related businesses, who have incurred, as a direct or indirect result of the coronavirus pandemic, economic revenue losses greater than 35 percent as compared to the prior five-year average revenue or any negative impacts to subsistence, cultural, or ceremonial fisheries.
  • Rolling basis: Funds may be awarded under this section on a rolling basis, and within a fishing season, to ensure rapid delivery of funds during the COVID–19 pandemic.
  • Appropriations: In addition to funds that are otherwise made available to assist fishery participants under this Act, there are authorized to be appropriated, and there are appropriated, $300,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2021, to carry out this section, of which up to 2 percent may be used for administration and oversight activities.
  • Emergency requirement: The amount provided by this section is designated by the Congress as being for an emergency requirement pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A)(i) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.

CARES Act Funding Questions

(Source https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/feature-story/commerce-secretary-announces-allocation-300-million-cares-act-funding)

Q. Who should affected fishermen and communities contact about accessing this funding?

A. Fishery participants eligible for funding—including Tribes, commercial fishing businesses, charter/for-hire fishing businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, processors, and other fishery-related businesses—should work with their state marine fisheries management agencies, territories, or Tribe to understand the process for applying for these funds.

Q. Can eligible fishery participants receive direct payments?

A. Direct payments are expressly allowed under Sec. 12005 of the CARES Act. Each Commissions’ grant application must meet the requirements of the CARES Act and reflect the appropriate use of funds and considerations as outlined in the Request for Applications, the Request for Applications letter and the allocation table provided.

Q. How long will it take for affected fishermen to get funding from the CARES Act? 

A. It will vary, however we expect that Sec. 12005 funding will be disbursed more quickly than fishery disaster assistance funds because the CARES Act language does not require the Secretary of Commerce to declare a fishery disaster. The CARES Act also allows the funds to be awarded on a “rolling basis,” which will enable NOAA Fisheries to execute the funds more nimbly in partnership with the states, Tribes, and territories.

Q. What types of fishing-related businesses are eligible for assistance?

A. For the purposes of carrying out the provisions in Section 12005 of the CARES Act, “fishery-related businesses” should be limited to commercial fishing businesses, charter/for-hire fishing businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, processors, and dealers.  Businesses farther down the supply chain—including vessel repair businesses, restaurants, or seafood retailers—are not considered “fishery-related businesses” for the purposes of this funding. NOAA Fisheries generally does not expect bait and tackle operations and gear and vessel suppliers to be eligible for Section 12005 funding. However, individual states, Tribes, and territories will have the discretion to determine how they will identify eligible fishery participants, consistent with the requirements of the CARES Act, in their spend plans.

Q. Which Tribes are eligible for assistance?

A. The definition of “fishery participant” identified in Sec. 12005 of the CARES Act, includes Tribal fishery participants. So, Tribes in coastal states with marine or anadromous fisheries and/or marine shellfish or finfish aquaculture operations are eligible for Sec. 12005 funds. Tribes in non-coastal states with freshwater fisheries will not be eligible for Sec. 12005 funds.

Q. Which types of aquaculture operations are eligible for funding?

A. Privately owned aquaculture businesses growing products in state or federal marine waters of the United States and the hatcheries that supply them are eligible for Sec. 12005 funding. This includes all molluscan shellfish and marine algae. Non-salmonid marine finfish grown in marine waters not covered by USDA are eligible for Sec. 12005 funding.

Q. On what basis did the agency make the initial allocation decision?

A. Given the definition of “fishery participant” identified in Sec. 12005 of the CARES Act, the agency used readily available total annual revenue information from the commercial fishing, charter fishing, aquaculture, and processor/seafood sectors of coastal states, Tribes, and territories to proportionately allocate Sec. 12005 funding. NOAA Fisheries also took into consideration negative impacts to subsistence, cultural, and ceremonial fisheries during the allocation process. In addition, NOAA Fisheries established a minimum and maximum funding level ($1 million and $50 million, respectively).

Q. Who will be responsible for determining if fishery losses exceed the 35 percent standard and applying for assistance?

A. Given the broad range of fisheries and entities affected across multiple jurisdictions, it will be important to provide states and territories flexibility in determining how they will identify which fishery participants meet the requirements described in Sec. 12005(b)(1)-(2). Thus, each state/Tribe/territory will be required to determine how they will verify which fishery participants meet the threshold of economic revenue losses greater than 35 percent as compared to the prior five year average or negative impacts to subsistence, cultural, or ceremonial fisheries. The spend plans will provide details on their proposed process for making these determinations.

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Economic assistance efforts are changing quickly. Please see the links below for the most up-to-date info.

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COVID-19 Financial Assistance Resources by Island Area

Hawai‘i:

American Samoa:

CNMI:

Guam:

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Executive Order on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth

On May 7, 2020, President Trump signed the Executive Order on Promoting American Seafood Competitiveness and Economic Growth. The intent of the order is to strengthen the American economy; improve the competitiveness of American industry; ensure food security; provide environmentally safe and sustainable seafood; support American workers; ensure coordinated, predictable, and transparent Federal actions; and remove unnecessary regulatory burdens. To read the whole Executive Order, click here.

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COVID News Articles of Fisheries Interest by Island Area

Hawaii

American Samoa

CNMI

Guam

Other Areas

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Upcoming Events

May
30
Sat
11:00 am American Samoa FEP Advisory Pane...
American Samoa FEP Advisory Pane...
May 30 @ 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Date: May 30, 2020          Time: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm (Samoa Standard Time) Time: 11:00 am – 1:00 pm (Hawaii Standard Time) Location: American Samoa via Teleconference FR Notice Agenda Both[...]
Jun
5
Fri
1:00 pm CNMI FEP Advisory Panel Meeting
CNMI FEP Advisory Panel Meeting
Jun 5 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Date: June 6, 2020          Time: 9:00 am to 11:00 am (Chamorro Standard Time) Date: June 5, 2020          Time: 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm (Hawaii Standard Time) Location:[...]
Jun
9
Tue
11:00 am 136th Scientific and Statistical...
136th Scientific and Statistical...
Jun 9 @ 11:00 am – Jun 11 @ 5:00 pm
Date: June 9 – 11, 2020          Time: 11:00 am –  5:00 pm    HST 136th SSC Public Agenda 136th SSC Federal Register Notice The meeting will be held by web conference[...]
Jun
17
Wed
7:00 am General Advisory Committee to th... @ NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center
General Advisory Committee to th... @ NMFS Southwest Fisheries Science Center
Jun 17 @ 7:00 am – Jun 18 @ 2:00 pm
AGENCY: National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. ACTION: Notice of public meeting. SUMMARY: NMFS announces a public meeting of the General Advisory Committee (GAC) to the U.S. Section to[...]
Jun
22
Mon
11:00 am Fishery Data Collection and Rese... @ TBD
Fishery Data Collection and Rese... @ TBD
Jun 22 @ 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Date: June 22, 2020          Time: 11:00 am to 1:00 pm Location: TBD (either in person or via webex) Fishery Data Collection and Research Committee Agenda