Division of Marine Fisheries’ spending plan for CARES Act relief gets federal approval

MOREHEAD CITY

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ spending plan for federal CARES Act fisheries assistance has been approved by NOAA Fisheries. The state now awaits notification from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission that the $5.4 million has been awarded.

The spending plan details the state’s approach for disbursement of the funding through direct payments to eligible commercial fishermen, charter businesses, seafood dealers and processors, and qualified marine aquaculture operations.

Once the division receives notification of the award from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, it will initiate a process timeline that includes a 30-day application period that will likely open in late fall. The division will notify the public when application packets are mailed to eligible license, lease, and permit holders. Application packets will be available online or at division offices for eligible stakeholders who are not licensed by the division.

The CARES Act requires applicants for fisheries assistance to meet economic revenue losses greater than 35% as compared to the prior 5-year average revenue to be eligible for relief. Applicants will be required to complete the application, an affidavit, and provide supporting materials that document loss of revenue greater than 35% from March 1 to May 31, 2020 as compared to the average revenue from the same period of the previous five-years (March 1 to May 31, 2015-2019).

In addition, applicants must affirm that this assistance will not result in overcompensation for their financial losses in calendar year 2020. This means that the combination of fisheries assistance with any other CARES Act relief (such as the Paycheck Protection Program, Small Business Association loan, or unemployment payments) plus their fisheries income and/or other income in 2020 will not exceed their average annual revenue from the previous five years, or a minimum of one year for those in business less than five years. Only relief that does not need to be paid back should be factored into this equation.

The division was notified on May 7 that NOAA Fisheries had allocated $5.4 million in CARES Act fisheries assistance to North Carolina. Receipt of the funding, which passes through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, was contingent on federal approval of the spending plan, which was received on Sept. 9.

The approved spending plan and other related information is available on the division’s CARES Act Fishery Assistance Information Page. The application and other necessary documents will be added to this site when the application period opens.

For questions regarding the spending plan, email covid19relief@ncdenr.gov or call the division’s License and Statistics Office at 252-808-8105.

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