NOAA releases plan for distributing $300 million from CARES Act relief package


Massachusetts (May 8, 2020) – Today, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced its plan for distributing $300 million of fisheries disaster funds appropriated in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. NOAA announced that each fishing state, territory, and tribe would receive a maximum allocation of $50 million and a minimum allocation of $1 million. Massachusetts received $28 million, the third-highest award. In 2018, $647.2 million of seafood was landed in Massachusetts, the second-highest amount of seafood landed in any state. For 19 consecutive years, New Bedford has been the highest grossing port in the country. Massachusetts is second to only California with more than 87,000 jobs in the commercial fishing and processing industry and 10,000 jobs in the recreational fishing industry


“The $28 million in aid for Massachusetts should only be the beginning. With Massachusetts’s position as home to the highest grossing port in the country, additional aid will be needed to address and match the critical role the Commonwealth plays in our fishing economy,” said Senator Markey. “While the amount allocated for Massachusetts is lower than anticipated and requires explanation, it will help out struggling fishermen who are suffering during the pandemic. I will continue to fight for more support for this historic and robust industry in upcoming coronavirus relief packages.”


“Massachusetts fishermen were struggling long before the pandemic hit, and this much-needed relief is an important first step toward keeping our fishermen and their families afloat as they confront this crisis and grapple with the economic slowdown it has brought to the fishing community,” said Senator Warren. “This allocation will be helpful to our fishermen during this difficult time, and I’ll keep fighting alongside my delegation partners to support the fishing and seafood industry.”


“Like all small businesses, the men and women of the Commonwealth’s fishing industry have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Keating. “This disaster assistance will begin to assist the industry as they recover from the effects of the pandemic, and I will continue to fight in the House as we look to further aid the fishing industry and the thousands of Massachusetts families it supports in the coming months.” 


“Fishermen are hurting. Things were already tough because of the trade war and they got a lot tougher when restaurants closed because of the pandemic,” said Rep. Moulton. “Government’s strength is measured by the ability to serve the people it represents. I hope this brings some peace of mind to the state’s fishermen.”


The Massachusetts lawmakers, led by Senator Markey, have championed the swift, equitable, and transparent allocation of financial aid to fishery participants and secured a $20 million USDA procurement of Atlantic seafood. On April 29, Senators Markey and Warren led a letter demanding immediate release of federal guidance on how fishery participants can access this $300 million in CARES Act funds, and identifying bureaucratic inefficiencies that were behind the failure to issue this guidance in a timely manner. On April 2, 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. On March 23, 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. Also on March 23, Rep. McGovern led Chairman Richard Neal (MA-01), James P. McGovern (MA-02), and Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08) in calling on House leadership to include fishing disaster assistance in relief packages.