Baker Polito Administration Announces Disaster Relief Funding for Fishing and Seafood Industries

HYANNIS – The Baker-Polito Administration has announced the distribution of $27.8 million in federal disaster relief funding to mitigate the financial impacts to the fishing and seafood industries from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Division of Marine Fisheries worked with fishing industry stakeholders to develop a plan to distribute the federal fisheries assistance, which has now been approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“The fishing and seafood industries are integral parts of the economy, history and culture of Massachusetts,” said Governor Charlie Baker. 

“Our Administration remains dedicated to supporting these industries, and we look forward to getting these needed relief funds to impacted fishermen and businesses as quickly as possible.” 

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito added, “These funds will be a needed lifeline for the Commonwealth’s fishing and seafood businesses, as well as the families and coastal communities who rely on these industries.”

“The distribution of these CARES Act funds is another important step in our efforts to help those who have been impacted by the pandemic.”

In March, the CARES Act was signed into law providing $300 million of aid for the seafood industry with $27.8 million coming to Massachusetts, the third highest of all coastal states. 

The funds were allocated among the states based on the relative contributions to the economy of four distinct sectors: commercial fishing, marine aquaculture, seafood processing, and for-hire fishing businesses. 

Eligible recipients include tribes, commercial fishing businesses, charter/for-hire fishing businesses, aquaculture businesses, seafood wholesalers, and processors whose residence is in Massachusetts who have suffered at least a 35 percent loss of revenue due to the ongoing pandemic. 

“The Commonwealth’s fishermen, charter boat operators, and seafood businesses have been hard hit by the restaurant closures and supply chain disruptions during the pandemic,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. 

“The Baker-Polito Administration is grateful to all the industry stakeholders who worked closely with us on a plan for swift, fair and equitable distribution of this important relief funding.”

Each state was required to submit a spending plan for the disbursement of its allocated funds following certain federal guidelines.

The DMF worked with an industry‐based advisory panel on the development and administration of the spending plan, with members from the various affected industry fishing sectors.

The resulting spending plan has allocated funds to each of the four industry sectors, proportional to the scale of each sector:

  • Seafood Processors – $13.8 million
  • Commercial Fishermen – $11.8 million
  • Aquaculturists – $1.2 million
  • For-Hire Boats – $1 million

Applications will be mailed over the next month to all potentially eligible fishery participants to the address on their DMF-issued permit.

Applications will include instructions to fill out the required information, due dates, and documentation needed for appeals, if necessary.

More information on the CARES Act funding and how to apply can be found here.  

The Baker-Polito Administration also recently awarded $50,616 in grant funding to three projects to help the Commonwealth’s local seafood industry sell fresh, locally caught products to Massachusetts consumers through promotion and awareness campaigns.

In addition, the Administration is developing an online platform, the MassGrown Exchange, to help facilitate business-to-business connections within the fishing and agricultural industries for products and services

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