Additional Assistance Funding Under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021
NOAA Fisheries announced the allocation of an additional $255 million in fisheries assistance funding provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.
On March 29, 2021, NOAA Fisheries announced the allocation of an additional $255 million in fisheries assistance funding provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The funding will support activities previously authorized under Sec. 12005 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). It will be allocated to states, and territories with coastal and marine fishery participants who have been negatively affected by COVID-19. View frequently asked questions below.
How do 2021 COVID-19 fisheries assistance allocations differ from 2020 CARES Act allocations?
The funding appropriated in the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act has been divided differently between states, tribes, and territories than in the first round. In this round, Congress has designated $30 million for federally recognized tribes in coastal or Great Lakes states, and $15 million for Great Lakes states that were not previously funded.
What types of fishing-related businesses are eligible for assistance?
“Fishery-related businesses” should be limited to:
- Commercial fishing businesses
- Charter/for-hire fishing businesses
- Qualified aquaculture operations
- Other fishery-related businesses
Businesses farther down the supply chain—including vessel repair businesses, restaurants, or seafood retailers—are not considered “fishery-related businesses” for the purposes of this funding. States and territories have the discretion to determine whether marine bait and tackle operations and marine gear and vessel suppliers are eligible for assistance in their spend plans, consistent with the requirements of the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act and the CARES Act.
Who should affected fishermen and communities contact about accessing this funding?
Eligible fishery participants should work with their state marine fisheries management agencies, or territories, to understand the process for applying for these funds.
Can eligible fishery participants receive direct payments?
Direct payments are expressly allowed under the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act and Sec. 12005 of the CARES Act. Each state or territory's spend plan must reflect the appropriate use of funds and considerations as outlined in the Request for Applications letter and the allocation table provided.
How long will it take for affected fishermen to get funding from the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act?
It will vary. However, we expect that this funding will be disbursed more quickly than the CARES Act funds from March 2020. We will be able to take advantage of processes established with states, territories, and commissions under CARES Act funding.
Which types of aquaculture operations are eligible for funding?
Privately owned aquaculture businesses growing products in state or federal marine waters, and the hatcheries that supply them, are eligible for assistance under the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act. This includes all molluscan shellfish and marine algae, as well as non-salmonid marine finfish. All aquaculture businesses must also meet the eligibility requirements specified in Section 12005 of the CARES Act and in their state’s spend plan.
On what basis did the agency make the allocation decision?
Given the definition of “fishery participant” identified in Sec. 12005 of the CARES Act, the agency used readily available total annual revenue information from the commercial fishing, charter fishing, aquaculture, and processor/seafood sectors of coastal states and territories to proportionately allocate the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act funding. Congress specified that no coastal state or territory shall receive less than 1 percent of the funds allocated, and no more than a state or territory’s total annual average revenue from fishery-related sectors.
Additional details regarding the sources of revenue data:
- Commercial fishing revenues: For most states and territories, NOAA Fisheries used a five-year average of annual commercial fishing revenues from 2014–2018 based on data obtained from NOAA Fisheries’ Office of Science and Technology’s commercial landings database. For U.S. territories, five-year average commercial fishing revenues from 2014–2018 were obtained from the Fisheries of the United States report.
- Aquaculture revenues: Most aquaculture revenue data was embedded within the commercial landings revenue data used to calculate five-year average commercial fishing revenues. We used updated USDA Census of Aquaculture data to account for aquaculture sales not accounted for within commercial fishing landings data (e.g., oysters, mussels, clams from select states). Multi-year averages were not available for aquaculture sales derived from the USDA Census of Aquaculture data.
- Seafood sector revenues: The commercial fishing landings revenue and aquaculture sales (defined as described above) were used to calculate direct value-added estimates for the seafood sector (i.e., processors, dealers, and wholesalers/distributors) using NOAA Fisheries’ Commercial Fishing & Seafood Industry Economic Impact Model. The Alaska and West Coast direct value added estimates were calculated from regional models. Direct value added is essentially sales revenue less the cost of seafood inputs. This metric ensures that revenue was not double counted in both the commercial and seafood sectors and that expenditures that flow out of the country from imported seafood products were not included in any revenue estimates.
- For-hire fishing revenues: For most states, average for-hire fishing revenues from 2015–2019 were based on angler payments to for-hire operations for fishing trips. Data on angler payments were based on NOAA Fisheries’ Angler Expenditures Surveys and data on directed for-hire fishing trips were derived from NOAA Fisheries’ Marine Recreational Information Program. For Hawaii, Alaska, and the Caribbean territories, NOAA Fisheries used charter vessel cost earnings surveys.
All sales and value added data was converted into 2019 dollars. We made several additional adjustments to the data described above to account for specific aspects of fisheries.
We adjusted average annual landings revenue data from Alaska, New England, and Mid-Atlantic states to attribute landings in those regions to a vessel owner’s state of residence to better reflect where fishing income accrues. We made these adjustments by determining the proportion of landings in a particular state attributed to vessel owners residing in another state and distributing revenue accordingly. We applied a similar adjustment to at-sea processors on the West Coast. We did not apply this adjustment broadly to other fisheries on the West Coast or Pacific Islands, Southeast, and Gulf of Mexico fisheries, because comparable state-by-state vessel ownership data was not readily available. Those regions represent a relatively small proportion of the nation’s total commercial fishery landings revenues and are smaller in scale relative to Alaska fisheries and the West Coast at-sea processors. Adjustments in those regions would not significantly impact the overall allocation across all applicable states, tribes, and territories.
NOAA Fisheries proportionally allocated the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act funds based on the total average annual revenues from coastal states and territories. This is the general formula we used:
The 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act included language that set a floor of $3 million for coastal states and territories. Congress also specified that a coastal state or territory cannot receive CARES Act and 2021 COVID-19 fisheries assistance that would exceed their total annual average revenue from commercial fishing operations, aquaculture firms, the seafood supply chain, and charter fishing businesses. NOAA Fisheries applied these floors and caps to the $255 million allocation.
Who will be responsible for determining if fishery losses exceed the 35 percent standard and applying for assistance?
Given the broad range of fisheries and entities affected across multiple jurisdictions, it will be important to provide states and territories flexibility in determining how they will identify which fishery participants meet the requirements. Thus, each state/territory will be required to determine how they will verify which fishery participants meet the threshold of economic revenue losses greater than 35 percent as compared to the prior five-year average or negative impacts to subsistence, cultural, or ceremonial fisheries. The spend plans will provide details on their proposed process for making these determinations.
When will the allocations for Great Lakes and tribes be announced?
On June 19, 2021, NOAA Fisheries announced the allocation of $15 million in fisheries assistance funding provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 to Great Lakes states with coastal fishery participants for activities previously authorized under Section 12005 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The Great Lakes are an important economic resource, supporting industry, transportation, commercial and recreational fishing, and tourism.
To expedite the process of disbursing the allocated $15 million to Great Lakes states, NOAA Fisheries will partner with the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission as we did with Interstate Marine Fisheries Commissions under Section 12005 of the CARES Act to disburse funds to eligible fishery participants that address direct or indirect fishery-related losses related to COVID-19. NOAA Fisheries used readily available total annual revenue information from the commercial fishing, charter fishing, and processor sectors of Great Lake states to proportionately allocate funding. States included in this allocation are States of the United States bordering the Great Lakes including Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and New York.
The Great Lakes Fisheries Commission then will work with each state to develop their spend plans to be consistent with the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the CARES Act, and NOAA’s guidance. All spend plans must describe the main categories for funding, including direct payments, fishery-related infrastructure, and fishery-related education. Once a state spend plan has been approved by NOAA, applications for assistance will be reviewed by the state. The Great Lakes Fisheries Commission will then process payments to eligible fishery participants on behalf of the states, though states will have the option to process payments themselves.
Eligible fishery participants should work with their state fisheries management agencies to understand the process for applying for these funds. Businesses farther down the supply chain—including vessel repair businesses, restaurants, or seafood retailers—are not considered eligible “fishery-related businesses” for the purposes of this funding. In addition to these funds, fishery participants may also be eligible for assistance from Small Business Administration or U.S. Department of Agriculture COVID programs.
These funds are a portion of the total $300 million included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. The Act also included $30 million for Tribes in coastal and Great Lakes states and $255 million for other states and territories with marine and coastal fisheries.
If an individual lives in one state but fishes in another state, where should they apply?
Generally speaking, individuals are expected to apply in their state of residence. Individuals who are residents of a state who did not receive fisheries assistance, but who hold a valid permit in a state that did receive funds, may be eligible in the state they are permitted in, depending on the eligibility criteria established by that state. In developing the state-specific allocations of funds, NOAA Fisheries made a homeporting adjustment to commercial revenue to attribute revenue to an individual’s state of residence as opposed to where they land their fish based on the data we had available. Therefore, non-resident, commercial fishermen should not be eligible for funds unless they are a resident of a state that did not receive an allocation under the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act. Likewise a resident who lands fish elsewhere is still subject to this residency requirement. It is up to the states to determine the document(s) they will require to determine eligibility of fishery participants and if the state will allow state residents to apply who have federal permits only or are permitted only in other states.
Given the nature of aquaculture operations and processing/dealers, we don’t anticipate there would be resident aquaculture and/or processor/dealers who would be permitted only in another state. With respect to the charter for-hire sector, there is flexibility for a state to allow non-residents to be eligible in the state they are permitted in. In all the above scenarios, the requirements of the act still apply (e.g., must have greater than 35 percent revenue loss compared to the previous five-year average, can not be made more than whole).
Does Pennsylvania drop out of this round of funding, considering they were eligible in the previous round? Will Pennsylvania be a part of the Great Lakes portions of this funding?
For this appropriation, funding is only available to Pennsylvania for the Great Lakes portion of funding.
Congress determined that only those states bordering the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, or Gulf of Mexico are eligible for the $255 million. Congress changed the language around eligible states/territories by specifying they need to border the Atlantic, Pacific or Gulf of Mexico.
In addition to this new round of funding in the $255 million, will New York also be eligible for the Great Lakes portion?
Yes, New York will be eligible for both the $255 million for marine/coastal fishery participants in coastal states and the $15 million for Great Lakes states. For the $15 million, only revenue from New York’s Great Lakes fisheries will be used to determine their allocation.
Is the tribal funding limited only to federally recognized tribes that manage a tribal fishery?
No, this funding may be available to support federally recognized tribes that do not participate in tribally managed fisheries but have experienced coronavirus-related fishing impacts to their commercial, for-hire, processor, and qualified aquaculture businesses or their ceremonial and subsistence fisheries.