Photo: Waterfront in Sitka, Alaska
These tough times are creating uncertainty and instability for the seafood and fishing industries, and we know many of our friends and partners, from seafood suppliers, chefs, fishing guides, and family commercial fishermen, are struggling. Coastal communities around the U.S. are made up of family businesses that provide fresh, local seafood and recreational fishing experiences for millions of Americans, and we want to ensure they continue to thrive after the COVID-19 crisis has passed.
The Marine Fish Conservation Network is here to support our partners and members any way we can. We’ve compiled useful information and resources about potential avenues for economic relief in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act in hopes that many of you will be able to take advantage of the disaster relief programs available.
Congress’ third federal stimulus package provides about $2 trillion to individuals, businesses and states in further response to the coronavirus pandemic. This legislation is in addition to two previous stimulus packages passed by Congress in as many weeks – the first, a $8.3 billion measure geared toward further developing a vaccine for the virus, and the second, which also passed last week, aimed at greater access to paid sick leave for workers, as well as increased testing for the virus.
Highlights of the CARES Act include:
- $150 billion to aid state, local and tribal governments;
- $500 billion for loans and assistance to companies and state and local governments, including $29 billion for U.S. airlines and related businesses. Additional funds would be provided to aviation workers;
- Payments of up to $1,200 for individual taxpayers, and $500 per child, phased out when incomes exceed $75,000 for individuals and $150,000 for couples who file jointly;
- An additional $600 per week for those receiving unemployment benefits;
- $300 million in direct relief for the fishing industry; and
- $349 billion in low-interest small business loans, some of which will be forgiven.
The Secretary of Commerce has been designated to dispense the $300 million allocated to the fishing community, but the bill does not specify how those funds will be distributed.
We’ve found some helpful resources online to help you get the assistance you need, and we’ve aggregated links below to help you sort through the large amount of information that’s out there.
- U.S. Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance. The SBA’s website has information about coronavirus disaster loans.
- U.S. Chamber of Commerce Coronavirus Emergency Loans Small Business Guide and Checklist. This 4-page PDF guide explains who is eligible for a small business loan, what lenders are looking for, how much you can borrow, and the conditions for which the loan will be forgiven.
- U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship: The Small Business Owner’s Guide to the CARES Act. An 11-page breakdown of what the CARES Act covers for small businesses with links to the different programs offering assistance.
- NOAA Fisheries Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update. This web page gives updates about what NOAA Fisheries is focused on during the COVID-19 crisis, as well as the status of different programs and services, such as seafood inspection and fishery observers/at-sea monitors.
- American Saltwater Guides Association: Fisheries Aid/CARES Act Preliminary Information. ASGA has put together an article about how the CARES Act will help the recreational fishing sector during this difficult time.
- American Fly Fishing Trade Association: COVID-19 Resources for the Fly Fishing Industry. AFFTA also created a page for the recreational fishing businesses with links to helpful resources.
- Gulf of Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders’ Alliance: Information Regarding COVID-19 Response. This website has an excellent list of resources for the commercial and seafood sectors, including state resources in the Gulf region. While you are there, take a survey to help the Shareholders’ Alliance collect data on the economic impact of COVID-19 to the commercial fishing sector.
- National Fisherman: Cash on the line: Federal Funds for fishermen and fishing communities. This article is a good summary of how the CARES Act will benefit fishermen and fishing communities, with links to more information.
- Kelley Drye Webinar: The COVID-19 Economic Stimulus Package.
Saving Seafood shared this hour-long webinar replay and presentation from Kelley Drye, a national legal and government relations firm.
Recreational and commercial fishing sector resources
The Networks knows the power of a community pulling together, and we believe we will all come through this crisis if we look out for one another. Stay safe and take care, everyone.