“Thousands of fishermen in the Pacific Northwest and across the nation will now have access to grants and other forms of financial relief from NOAA,” Cantwell said.
The Washington state Democrat noted that the fishing industry has already seen layoffs and fishing season closures. “It is crucial that we support fishermen and ensure they have access to emergency grants and other assistance as they face the unprecedented challenges of this pandemic,” she said.
A provision within the package would direct the Commerce Department to distribute $300 million in financial assistance in the form of direct payments, including grants, as well as other forms of investments in the fishing industry and shellfish farms. Cantwell collaborated with senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both R-Alaska, and Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, on the relief package.
Cantwell noted that there are already reports of the devastating economic impact of COVID-19 on the fishing industry, with fishermen experiencing significant economic losses. This new financial assistance will help all fishermen, including those who may not qualify for other forms of aid because many fishermen are self-employed