CARES Act funding plans approved for four states so far, each allocating funds differently

Published on
August 12, 2020

Four U.S. states have had their CARES Act funding distribution plans approved so far, as NOAA Fisheries continues to receive and process applications “as expeditiously as possible.”

California, Massachusetts, Oregon, and South Carolina have had CARES Act spend plans approved by NOAA. Those approvals mean the states will be able access their portions of the USD 300 million (EUR 254 million) they were allocated back in May. A fifth state, Louisiana, is indicated as having funding approval per NOAA Fisheries, but an official with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries told SeafoodSource that as of 12 August, no offical approval documentation had been seen.

NOAA Fisheries Director of Public Affairs John Ewald told SeafoodSource that while applications are being processed as quickly as possible, officials also need to ensure proper oversight on the spending plans.

“Spend plans must describe the main categories for funding by state, territory, and/or Tribe as applicable (e.g., direct payments, fishery-related infrastructure, fishery-related education) that address direct and indirect COVID-19 impacts to commercial fishermen, charter businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, subsistence/cultural/ceremonial users, processors, and other fishery-related businesses,” Ewald said. “Spend plans must be consistent with the requirements of the CARES Act and comply with the terms and conditions of the grants awarded by NOAA Fisheries to the Commissions.”

Those requirements are specified by Section 12005 of the Cares Act, which also stipulates that any fishery participant must have received a loss of revenue of 35 percent or greater compared to the prior five-year average or negative impacts to subsistence, cultural, or ceremonial fisheries. In addition, 2 percent of the funding allocated to each state may be used to cover administration or oversight activities on the funding.

“Spend plans will outline the state, territory or Tribe’s eligibility criteria, application process, allocation method, and applicable timeline that will be utilized to distribute federal assistance to the fishery participants in need,” Ewald said. “This approach provides individual states the flexibility to address the priority needs among their fishery participants in their geographic area.”

SeafoodSource has broken down how each state approved so far plans to allocate the funds to the industry. Every state has taken a different approach, but all of the states have acknowledged that the current funding allocation will likely not be enough to fully offset the losses the industry had incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Photo courtesy of Dan Logan/Shutterstock

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