COVID relief bill includes second round of fishery relief funds

Published on
January 5, 2021

Lawmakers representing the U.S. state of Massachusetts said on Monday, 4 January, they were thankful the USD 900 billion (EUR 732 billion) COVID relief bill – passed late last month and signed into law by U.S. President Donald Trump – will include a second round of emergency funding for fisheries.

The latest spending plan sets aside USD 300 million (EUR 244 million) in relief funding for fishermen and others in the industry affected by the pandemic. That matches the amount Congress approved via the CARES Act last spring.

In a joint statement, U.S. Senators Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Representatives William Keating and Seth Moulton said the Bay State’s fishermen are more than just part of the Massachusetts culture.

“They are vital contributors to our working waterfronts and coastal economy,” the Democratic lawmakers said. “These industries have been severely impacted by the pandemic and economic crisis and deserve to be included in relief efforts. We will continue to fight for this funding to be distributed swiftly and equitably to Massachusetts businesses and then supplanted with the additional support that the fishing and seafood industries need.”

It's uncertain, for now, how much states will receive from the new allocation, although the law does set aside USD 30 million (EUR 24.4 million) for tribal fishing communities.

Massachusetts received USD 28 million (EUR 22.8 million) from the first round of funding.

In addition to money for fishery relief, the spending plan also included funding to issue to food processors that have invested in new equipment and processes to protect workers from the coronavirus. That money will be made available through grants and loans.

In a conference call with reporters last month, U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) said that funding helps fish processors specifically because they “fell through the cracks” in the CARES Act.

“They really didn’t fit into any of the different kind of buckets of relief,” Sullivan said, according to KTOO public media in Juneau, Alaska. “And so we worked to make sure that there was some relief in this next relief package.”

Photo courtesy of Rich Koele/Shutterstock

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