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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Click on the links below to learn more)
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
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.
Economic assistance efforts are changing quickly. Please see the links below for the most up-to-date info.
- Federal guidance for small businesses, including information on the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program:
- Small Business Administration: Disaster Assistance
- Coronavirus: Small Business Guidance and Loan Resources
- Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act. Information on Paycheck Protection Program loans, the Small Business Debt Relief Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Emergency Economic Injury Grants, small business counseling, small business contracting and small business tax provisions.
- Coronavirus Emergency Loans, Small Business Guide and Checklist. Prepared by the US Chamber of Commerce to help small businesses and self-employed individuals prepare to file for a loan.
COVID-19 Financial Assistance Resources by Island Area
- Hawai‘i State Department of Labor & Industrial Relations
- Chamber of Commerce Hawai‘i (CCH)
- CCH is asking businesses to participate in a “Hawai`i Business COVID-19 Impact Survey“.
- Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources and Hawai‘i Division of Aquatic resources
- Is currently in the process of developing a spending plan, which, if approved by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), will allow fishery participants to apply for financial relief from Hawai‘i’s $4.3 million portion. Fishery participants eligible for funding include commercial fishing businesses, charter/for-hire fishing businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, processors, and other fishery-related businesses. For questions about eligibility or the application: email@example.com.
- Congresswoman Aumua Aumata Coleman Radewagen’s Summary Of COVID-19 Relief Package For American Samoa, Apr. 2, 2020.
- American Samoa Government
- American Samoa Chamber of Commerce
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.
COVID News Articles of Fisheries Interest by Island Area
- “A massive catch was put to good use feeding medical workers on Oahu.” May 26, 2020. Hawaii News Now.
- “Fishing industry in Hawaii to receive millions in targeted COVID-19 aid.” May 21, 2020. Lahaina News.
- “Hawaii Fishermen Are Stuck In Port As Federal Aid Falls Short.” May 19, 2020. Honolulu Civil Beat.
- “Funding Available to Assist Hawai‘i’s Fishing Industry Impacted by COVID-19.” May 9, 2020. Big Island Now.
- “Hawaii Fishing Sector to Receive Portion of $300 Million Federal Aid Under CARES Act.” May 8, 2020. Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources.
- “Hawaii to receive $4.3M in federal aid to support fishing industry.” May 8, 2020. Hawaii Business News.
- “Hawaii-based fishing boats caught in economic meltdown.” May 6, 2020. Saving Seafood.
- “House committee discusses COVID-19 impacts on Hawaii economy.” April 27, 2020. Honolulu Star Advertiser.
- Link to video recording via Olelo.
- “Longliners partner with Hawaii Foodbank to deliver coronavirus emergency aid.” April 23, 2020. National Fisherman.
- “Gov. Ige: All Hawaii beaches now closed; Boating, fishing, hiking social distancing requirements expanded.” April 17, 2020. KITV.
- “Fishing boat captains face an impossible choice: Lose money at sea or lose money at home.” April 16, 2020. Hawaii News Now.
- “With tourism evaporated, just 30 percent of Hawaii’s commercial fleet fishing actively.” April 16, 2020. SeafoodSource.
- “Commercial fishing industry in free fall as restaurants close, consumers hunker down and vessels tie up.” April 8, 2020. The Washington Post.
- “Hawaii fishing industry no paradise amidst COVID crisis.” April 3, 2020. Undercurrent News.
- “Oceans of Fish, For Now.” April 1, 2020. Honolulu Star Advertiser.
- “Decrease in flights is packing a punch for state exporters.” March 27, 2020. Hawaii News Now.
- “Fish prices plummet as coronavirus pandemic cripples industry and idles boats.” March 26, 2020. Hawaii News Now.
- “Coast Guard says no evidence of fishing.” May 22, 2020. Talanei.
- “Ta’u residents curious about fishing boat.” May 22, 2020. Talanei.
- “Fisheries council urges Trump to lift restrictions on U.S. tuna fleet.” May 12, 2020. Samoa News.
- “CARES Act grants $2.5 million for American Samoa fishermen.” May 10, 2020. Samoa News.
- “Governor grateful for protection of seafood industry.” May 8, 2020. Talanei.
- “Amata Welcomes Over 2.5 million CARES Act Grant for American Samoa Fishermen.” May 7, 2020. Press Release from Congresswoman Aumua Amata Coleman Radewagen.
- “Observer issue on US purse seiners resolved.” May 5, 2020. Talanei.
- “Tuna fisheries, canneries struggle as demand for canned protein skyrockets amid lockdown restrictions.” May 4, 2020. MEAWW.
- “American Samoa’s state of emergency extended through June 1.” May 1, 2020. Samoa News.
- “StarKist Co. issues statement on its exemption from local emergency declaration.” April 18, 2020. Samoa News.
- “DoH stops cargo ships from docking despite Task Force exemptions.” April 15, 2020. Samoa News.
- “Stimulus funding process proving tricky to navigate for smaller seafood operators.” April 14, 2020. SeafoodSource.
- “Amata identifies fishing access as a food security issue.” April 10, 2020. Samoa News.
- “If fishery observer rule not waived, fish supply for StarKist at risk.” April 7, 2020. Samoa News.
- “StarKist Samoa and support businesses to be allowed to operate.” March 24, 2020. Samoa News.
- “CNMI to receive $1M in fisheries assistance.” May 12, 2020. Saipan Tribune.
- “Amendment to Directive 16 of the CNMI Covid-19 Emergency Directives of 2020 reducing curfew hours.” May 1, 2020. Marianas Variety.
- “Boating restriction directive rescinded.” April 4, 2020. Marianas Variety.
- “Torres on small boats: No access beyond reef.” March 31, 2020. Saipan Tribune.
- “Fishing supply store welcomes back customers.” May 13, 2020. Guam Daily Post.
- “Fishery managers seek to open Pacific monuments to fishing.” May 29, 2020. National Geographic.
- “Fish Councils Look For Ways To Bounce Back From Pandemic.” May 29, 2020. Honolulu Civil Beat.
- ““New Normal” since COVID-19 promises bigger role for U.S. seafood.” May 28, 2020. Samoa News.
- “Coronavirus, turtle protections crush market expectations for Pacific swordfish.” May 28, 2020. National Fisherman.
- “UN Special Envoy for the Ocean: We can’t let COVID-19 widen the door for IUU fishing.” May 26, 2020. SeafoodSource.
- “Foreign fishing boats emerge as a new point of Covid-19 transmission in the Pacific.” May 25, 2020. TVNZ.
- “FFA Continues To Monitor Fishing Amidst COVID-19 Situation.” May 22, 2020. Scoop Independent News.
- “USDA, FDA release memorandum of understanding regarding Defense Production Act.” May 20, 2020. SeafoodSource.
- “House set to vote on HEROES Act, USD 100 million in additional fishery relief funding.” May 14, 2020. SeafoodSource.
- “Walmart, Major Retailers Call for Governments to Ensure Sustainably-Produced Tuna during COVID-19.” May 8, 2020. Perishable News.
- “As some in Congress question CARES Act allocations, lawmakers begin effort to secure more aid.” May 8, 2020. SeafoodSource.
- “Seafood industry applauds Trump’s new executive order, while some groups cry foul.” May 8, 2020. SeafoodSource.
- “Commerce Secretary Announces Allocation of $300 Million in CARES Act Funding.” May 7, 2020. NOAA Fisheries.
- “Trump signs executive order to jump-start US aquaculture, boost seafood self-sufficiency.” May 7, 2020. IntraFish.
- ” “Seafood For Heroes” feeding thousands of US healthcare workers, first responders.” May 6, 2020. SeafoodSource.
- “Fishermen, small seafood businesses seek more federal COVID-19 relief.” May 5, 2020. SeafoodSource.
- “USDA to spend USD 70 million in COVID-19 relief funds on domestic seafood.” May 5, 2020. SeafoodSource.
- “How the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting marine ecosystems, Part 1: Fisheries and aquaculture.” April 30, 3030. Skimmer Marine Ecosystems and Management.
- “US restaurants seeking USD 120 billion relief fund.” April 30, 2020. SeafoodSource.
- “Massachusetts, Alaska lawmakers up COVID relief ante, to request $20bn for US fisheries.” April 29, 2020. Undercurrent News.
- “Senators Markey and Warren, and Reps. Moulton and Keating Demand Immediate Guidance for Fisheries Disaster Assistance Funding During Coronavirus Emergency.” April 29, 2020. Press Release from Senator Ed Markey.
- “For Global Tuna Industry, COVID-19 Complicates Long-Standing Challenges.” April 29, 2020. The Pew Charitable Trusts.
- “Former PNA boss claims FCF faces disruption to Pacific Islands tuna operations.” April 27, 2020. Undercurrent News.
- “COVID-19 and its likely impact on the tuna industry in the Pacific Islands.” April 27, 2020. DevPolicy.
- “Small-scale fishermen suffering significantly from COVID-19 pandemic.” April 27, 2020. SeafoodSource.
- “What’s Covid-19 got to do with the price of fish? A lot.” April 25, 2020. Newsroom.
- “SSF 2019 report finds 99.1% compliance rate for tuna harvesters.” April 24, 2020. Undercurrent News.
- “US seafood industry continues push for larger federal COVID relief package.” April 24, 2020. Undercurrent News.
- “US harvesters press NOAA for CARES Act details, distribution of $300m.” April 23, 2020. Undercurrent News.
- “Stimulus update: Cashed out.” April 22, 2020. National Fisherman.
- “Masks, sanitizers, food trucks and labs: Here’s how the seafood industry is helping the coronavirus fight.” April 21, 2020. IntraFish.
- “Danielle Blacklock, director of NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Aquaculture, discusses future of U.S. industry.” April 21, 2020. SeafoodSource.
- “Fishermen still waiting to access pandemic relief funds.” April 20, 2020. The Ellsworth American.
- “Treatments containing fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids being trialed on COVID-19 patients.” April 17, 2020. SeafoodSource.