NOAA allocates $255 million for COVID-19 relief from 2021 Appropriations Bill 
Washington (March 31, 2021)—The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its plan to distribute $255 million in fisheries disaster funds appropriated in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, supporting previously authorized activities in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Massachusetts received $23 million, the third-highest award out of the 28 fishing states and territories that were listed. In 2020, Massachusetts received $28 million from the initial CARES Act fisheries disaster funding appropriations. For 20 consecutive years, New Bedford has remained the highest grossing port in the country, bringing in more than $430 million annually.
“Our fishing industries are at the core of our culture and economy in Massachusetts. Given the unrelenting challenges associated with the pandemic, the $23 million in aid for the Commonwealth is another down-payment on the help these industries deserve,” said Senator Markey. “We are home to the highest grossing port in the nation, and additional support will be needed to match our vital contribution to the fishing economy.”
Massachusetts lawmakers, led by Senators Markey and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), have championed the allocation of financial aid to fishery participants. In March 2020, Senators Markey and Warren, and Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan called on Senate leadership to include support for the fishing industry in coronavirus economic relief packages and secured a $20 million USDA procurement of Atlantic seafood.
In April 2020, Senators Markey and Warren led a letter urging the Department of Commerce and NOAA to act swiftly, equitably, and transparently in allocating fisheries disaster assistance funding. Also in April of last year, Senators Markey and Warren led a letter to the Commerce Department demanding immediate release of federal guidance on how fishery participants could access the $300 million in CARES Act funds, and identified the bureaucratic inefficiencies that were behind the failure to issue this guidance in a timely manner. In June 2020, Senators Markey and Warren called on Senate leadership to include additional fisheries assistance in the next coronavirus relief package.