NOAA allocates more CARES Act funding, but some states want more
An additional USD 255 million (EUR 217.3 million) in CARES Act fisheries relief funding has been released to states, territories, and tribal entities to help fisheries impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, once again, questions have been raised about the allocation process.
The move comes nearly a year after USD 300 million (EUR 255.6 million) was allocated to U.S. fisheries in the first round of funding.
NOAA Fisheries Acting Assistant Administrator Paul Doremus said in a statement the agency’s goal is to get the money out to fishermen as expeditiously as possible.
“As a next step, we will use these allocations to provide additional funds to our partners – the interstate marine fisheries commissions, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands – to disburse funds to address direct or indirect fishery-related losses as well as subsistence, cultural, or ceremonial impacts related to COVID-19,” he said.
Once the agency signs off on a state’s spending plan, the marine fisheries commissions will then review applications and process payments through the state.
Similar to the first round of funding, both Alaska and Washington received the largest share, with each getting USD 40 million (EUR 34.1 million). The next-largest allocation, USD 23.6 million (EUR 20.1 million), went to Massachusetts. A full list of allocations was published by NOAA on 29 March.
However, in a statement, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) said that the federal government will need to provide more help than that, especially since the Port of New Bedford ranks as the country’s highest-grossing seafood port.
“Our fishing industries are at the core of our culture and economy in Massachusetts. Given the unrelenting challenges associated with the pandemic, the USD 23 million in aid for the Commonwealth is another down-payment on the help these industries deserve,” he said.
Louisiana once again found itself behind Florida, Maine, California, and Oregon in its allotment, receiving just USD 12.5 million (EUR 10.7 million). That led U.S. Rep. Garret Graves (R-Louisiana) to again question how allocations were made. Last year, the state received USD 14.8 million (EUR 12.6 million).
“It makes no sense yet again how Louisiana, one of the top fishing states in the nation, only receive[s] this much, while other states with a fraction of a fishing industry get more money,” Graves said. “They slapped us in the face last year, and then came back again while the wounds were still open.”
Included in the allocation is USD 30 million for federally recognized tribal nations and USD 15 million for the Great Lakes states.
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