The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife anticipates that nearly $16 million in federal relief aid will be available for Oregon’s marine-related and coastal fishery sectors experiencing significant economic impacts from the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The relief aid slated for Oregon is part of $300 million in fisheries assistance funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) to states, Tribes, and territories with coastal and marine fishery participants who have been negatively affected.
ODFW will be the lead State agency working with fishery participants to coordinate aid. Fishery participants eligible for funding from the CARES Act include commercial fishing businesses, charter/for-hire fishing businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, processors, and other fishery-related businesses. It does not include businesses farther down the supply chain (including vessel repair businesses, restaurants, or seafood retailers), though these businesses may be eligible for other CARES Act aid. (Tribal fisheries will also be eligible for CARES Act aid but through another allocation and process not coordinated by ODFW.)
“These fisheries are a vital part of Oregon’s economic, cultural and community health, and many businesses directly supporting these fisheries have been severely impacted by the ongoing pandemic,” said Ed Bowles, ODFW Fish Division Administrator. “We look forward to working with those affected to provide some economic relief.”
The development of spending plans will not begin until after further guidance, criteria and application materials are provided by NOAA to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission. PSMFC will then work with ODFW and affected parties to develop spending plans consistent with the CARES Act and NOAA’s guidance.
All spending plans must be approved by NOAA before funds can be distributed. The CARES Act requires distribution of funds no later than Sept. 30, 2021, but ODFW hopes Oregon’s spending plan and applications can be submitted to NOAA by early fall this year to begin the approval and disbursement process.
More information and the CARES Act and Oregon’s spending plan process will be available on ODFW’s Fish Division webpage (https://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/CARES/) once information and application materials become available.