The application period is now open for eligible commercial fishing shellfish, charter and seafood sector industry members hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic to apply for assistance with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.
Those in the industry who saw a gross revenue loss from January through July 2020 that is greater than 35 percent of their average for 2015-2019 are eligible to seek federal relief funds. Washington-based commercial harvesters who fish in Alaska are also eligible.
Congress has provided under Section 12005 of the CARES Act $300 million for states to distribute to participants in these fisheries. NOAA Fisheries allocated the funds, with the highest allocation – $50 million each – going to Washington and Alaska.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a deep impact on commercial fisheries. “This sorely needed relief will help protect our people, businesses and communities,” he said.
The governor’s office has developed a plan for distributing these funds with assistance from the state departments of Fish and Wildlife, Agriculture, Commerce and the Washington Office of Financial Management.
State officials have already met virtually with commercial harvesters, shellfish growers and seafood processors to better understand the impact of the pandemic on the industry and to coordinate with fisheries managers in neighboring West Coast states as well.
WDFW is inviting those who may qualify to participate in a virtual public meeting from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 23. Meeting details will be available online at https://www.oregon.gov/oda/programs/foodsafety/shellfish/pages/shellfishclosures.aspx.
More information, including eligibility details and applications, is on the PSFMC website, psmfc.org/cares-act-the-coronavirus-aid-relief-and-economic-security-act.
Applications may be submitted through March 25.
The second round of assistance is expected to cover losses incurred between August and Dec. 31, 2020, made possible by another $300 million approved by Congress in December.
NOAA Fisheries has not yet announced how these funds are to be divided between the state territories and tribes.