CARES Act II Fisheries Relief Program application deadline October 1st

Commercial fishing provides a $25 million annual economic benefit in Dare County. [Coastal Review Online photo]

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is reminding those who wish to apply for assistance from the 2021 Consolidated Appropriations Act (CARES Act II) Fisheries Relief Program that they must do so by Oct. 1.

The financial assistance is available to eligible commercial fishermen and marine aquaculture operators, seafood dealers and processors, and for-hire fishing operators who can document a greater than 35% revenue loss in 2020 compared to the previous five-year average due to COVID-19.

North Carolina stands to receive $4.5 million from CARES Act II to provide financial relief through direct payments to fishery-related stakeholder groups affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This funding is in addition to the $5.4 million in fisheries assistance the state received from the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and distributed earlier this year.

Applicants for the 2021 CARES Act II relief are required to complete the application, an affidavit, and provide supporting materials that document loss of revenue greater than 35% from March 1, 2020 through Dec 31, 2020 as compared to the average revenue from the same period of the previous five-years (March 1 through Dec. 31, 2015-2019). Eligible stakeholders who received relief from the 2020 Cares Act funding may apply for the 2021 CARES Act II funding, but any assistance will be adjusted for the amount already received.

An objective of the CARES Act II Program is to make participants whole; that is, to put them in the same position financially as they would have been had COVID-19 not occurred. NOAA Fisheries requires that any relief monies received from the Program does not result in a participant’s annual earnings (January to December 2020) exceeding their five-year average annual revenue (January to December 2015-2019).

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 cannot exceed their average annual revenue from the previous five years, or a minimum of one year for those in business fewer than five years.

Applications and supporting documentation must be either delivered in person to the division Headquarters Office at 3441 Arendell St., Morehead City or mailed to the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, CARES Act II Fisheries Relief Program, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City N.C. 28557. Applications and supporting documentation will not be accepted at other division offices.

In August, the division mailed application packets to eligible license, lease, and permit holders. Application packets are available on the division’s Economic Relief Programs webpage or at division offices for eligible stakeholders who are not licensed by the division.

For questions regarding this financial relief program, email or call the division’s License and Statistics Office at 252-503-3091.