An application deadline for eligible commercial fishing, shellfish aquaculture, charter and seafood sector industry members to see pandemic relief funds has been extended to April 9 by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC).
Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife officials said that the 15-day extension includes additional time for industry members who fish or land their fish in Alaska, but live in Washington state, to apply for relief. Washington-based commercial harvesters who fish in Alaska should apply to the Washington spend plan for assistance.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife fish policy director Ron Warren said the agency recognizes that these industry sectors are hurting, and the deadline extension is an important step in getting funding to those who need it most.
Industry members who saw a gross revenue loss greater than 35% of their 2015-2019 average from January through July 2020 are eligible to apply for federal relief.
Congress has provided under Section 12005 of the CARES Act $300 million to states to distribute to fisheries participants. NOAA Fisheries allocated the money among states territories and tribes, with Washington and Alaska receiving the highest allocation of $50 million each.
A total of $39 million was allocated to non-tribal commercial fishing, shellfish and charter industry members. The remainder is available to tribal members of 24 treaty tribes for losses associated with commercial activities and any negative impacts to commercial, subsistence, cultural and ceremonial fisheries resulting directly or indirectly from the pandemic.
The governor’s office has developed a plan to distribute this money with assistance from the Departments of Fish and Wildlife, Agricultural, commerce and the Washington Office of Financial Management. To better understand consequences of the pandemic on industry, state officials met virtually with commercial harvesters, shellfish growers and seafood processors in neighboring West Coast states as well. Discussions were held too with 24 treaty tribes to learn about the impact of COVID-19 on ceremonial and subsistence fisheries.
A second round of assistance is expected to cover losses incurred between August and December 31, 2020, made possible with another $255 million that Congress approved in December. The distribution plan for this second round of funds has not yet been released by NOAA Fisheries.
Application inquiries should be sent to WACARES@psmfc.org or call (866) 990-2738.
More information about eligibility details and applications instructions is available on the PSMFC’s website: psmfc.org/cares-act-the-coronavirus-aid-relief-and-economic-security-act.