Mass CARES Act Fisheries Relief

Massachusetts has been allocated $28 million from the CARES Act for fisheries relief. Updated as of 3 p.m., August 3, 2020.

On May 7, 2020, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce announced the allocation of  $300 million in fisheries assistance funding provided by Sec. 12005 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, also called the CARES Act, to states, Tribes, and territories with coastal and marine fishery participants who have been negatively affected by COVID–19. Massachusetts has been allocated $28 million, the third highest allocation in the country, behind Alaska and Washington.

The Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Marine Fisheries (MA DMF) worked with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) to finalize the required MA CARES Act Fisheries Relief Spending Plan, approved by NOAA Fisheries on July 29, 2020. The Massachusetts plan was developed through a public process with significant industry participation. Now that this relief plan is approved, Massachusetts will work with NOAA Fisheries, ASMFC, and the seafood industry to send out applications and get the funding out as soon as possible.

This website will be continually maintained with the most up-to-date information available to help guide impacted industry participants through the application and dispersal process.  MA DMF will also widely circulate notification by email, permit holder mailings, and through local media outlets when we are ready to receive applications from eligible fishery participants impacted by COVID-19.

• On July 29, 2020, NOAA approved our spending plan: MA CARES Act Fisheries Relief Spending Plan
• Applications for the Aquaculture sector were mailed out on August 3, 2020, to the address on your DMF-issued permit. Returned applications and appeals must be postmarked by August 21, 2020.
• Applications for the For-hire Charter Boat sector were mailed out on August 3, 2020, to the address on your DMF-issued permit. Returned applications and appeals must be postmarked by August 22, 2020.
Applications are still being finalized for the Seafood Processor and Commercial Harvest sectors, with an anticipated mailing date of mid to late August.
 Seafood Processors & Wholesale Dealers were required to fill out the pre-application questionnaire by July 29, 2020. Information can be mailed back or emailed to [email protected].
 Working group meeting summaries and presentations are located below. These meetings were used to craft eligibility for each sector.
• The For-hire Head Boat Relief Program is complete. All payments have been issued. (see the for-hire page below for more information)
• Refer to each sector’s individual CARES Act Fisheries Relief page for program overview, as well as status and application updates:

Commercial Harvest
For-hire Charter and Head Boat
Seafood Processor and Wholesale Dealer

Every mailed application will also have a FAQ sheet to assist you with your application: Massachusetts CARES Act Fisheries Relief FAQ Sheet

Here is some basic information about the funding:

• How will Massachusetts receive its $28 million allocation of funds?  NOAA Fisheries will pass the funds to Massachusetts from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission.  All funds must be dispersed by September 2021. 

• What businesses are eligible?  Tribes, commercial fishing businesses, charter/for-hire fishing businesses, aquaculture businesses, and seafood wholesalers and processors whose residence is in Massachusetts. 

• Does every eligible business qualify for funding?  No. Only businesses that suffered a 35% loss caused by COVID-19 relative to previous years will qualify for these funds. 

• What businesses are NOT eligible?  Seafood retail markets, restaurants, tackle shops, tackle manufacturers, and boat yards are all ineligible.  Any commercial fishing businesses or operations involving freshwater species are also ineligible. 

• What is a spending plan?  A spending plan explains to NOAA how the funds will be given out and the metrics that will be used to qualify each applicant for the funds.  NOAA requested all spending plans be submitted to their agency by August 2020, however, MA DMF’s spending plan was submitted early and approved on July 29, 2020. 

• When can businesses apply?  Applications will be mailed to all potentially eligible fishery participants to the address on their DMF-issued permit (for seafood processors, aquaculture, commercial fishing, and for-hire charter boat businesses). Applications will include instructions to fill out the required information, due dates, and documentation needed for appeals, if necessary. Please check back for updates on mailings for each sector.

• If I received other CARES Relief, am I still eligible to receive relief from this program?  Yes, as long as all CARES Relief combined (PPP or SBA loans, unemployment, this Fisheries Relief) does not make you more than ‘whole’ for calendar year 2020. More than ‘whole’ would mean that all the Relief, combined with your traditional revenue, brings your business above 100% (equating to an increase in revenue as compared to an average year). Any SBA or PPP loans received should only be factored in if you do not have to pay the money back. If you have to pay the money back, it does not count towards this equation.

• Do I have to pay this relief money back?  No. This relief money is not a loan, however, it is taxable. 

• What can I do until I can apply? 
• Check this website for updates.
• Sign up for MA DMF’s email notifications.
• For answers to specific questions, please email us at [email protected].

Advisory Panel

DMF assembled an industry‐based advisory panel to guide the development and administration of this relief program. The advisory panel members (listed below) are representatives from the various affected industry fishing sectors. The advisory panel held their first meeting virtually on June 2, 2020, to discuss eligibility criteria, proposed allocations of relief monies by sector, potential challenges in qualifying businesses and distributing funding, and the development of sector‐specific working groups to develop spending plans.

CARES Act Relief Advisory Panel Meeting Notes June 2, 2020

CARES Act Relief Advisory Panel Meeting Presentation June 2, 2020

Advisory Panel Members:
Dan Orchard, Fishermen’s Partnership Support Services
Laura Ramsden – Seafood Processing
Tory Bramante – Seafood Processing
Mike Pierdinock – For hire, charter boat operator and MFAC member
Joe Huckemeyer – For-hire, Party boat owner
Bill Doyle – Shellfish Aquaculture and MFAC member
Scott Soares – MA Aquaculture Association
John Pappalardo, Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance
Ed Washburn – Executive Director, New Bedford Port Authority
Ed Barret – President, MA Fishermen’s Partnership – Commercial Fishing Organization
Beth Casoni – Executive Director, MA Lobstermen’s Association – Inshore Lobster

Sector Working Groups

For the purpose of dispersing this CARES Relief, we have brought in industry members to form four Sectors: Commercial Harvest, For-hire, Aquaculture, and Seafood Processor. Listed below are the Working Group members, including DMF staff, working to devise spending plans for each Sector. The group members listed below are as of June 5, 2020, and will be updated as additional members are added to each group.

Commercial Harvest:
Co-Chairs – Jared Silva and Melanie Griffin, DMF
John Pappalardo – Cape Cod Commercial Fisherman’s Alliance
Ed Barrett – MA Fishing Partnership
Dan Orchard – MA Fishing Partnership Support Services
Beth Casoni – Executive Director, MA Lobsterman’s Association
Ed Washburn – Executive Director, New Bedford Port Authority
Drew Minkiewicz – Fisheries Survival Fund
Jackie Odell – Executive Director, Northeast Seafood Coalition
Albert Cottone – Executive Director, Gloucester Fisheries Commission
Ron Bergstrom – Chatham wild shellfish fisherman

Co-Chairs – Mike Armstrong and Nichola Meserve, DMF
Mike Pierdinock, F/V Perseverance – New Bedford – Charter
Willy Hatch, F/V Machacha – Falmouth – Charter
Don Cianciolo, F/V Laura-Jay – Sandwich – Charter
Tim Brady, F/V Mary Elizabeth – Plymouth – Head
Joe Huckemeyer, Helen H Fleet – Hyannis – Head
Chris Charos, Captain’s Fishing Parties – Newburyport – Head

Co-Chairs – Tom Shields and Jeff Kennedy, DMF
Josh Reitsma, SEMAC & Woods Hole Sea Grant Representative
Bill Doyle, Shellfish Aquaculture and MFAC member
Scott Soares, MAA
Jack Blake, Shellfish Aquaculture, Edgartown
Mark Begley, Shellfish Aquaculture, Barnstable
Aarron Brochu, Big Rock Oyster Co., Dennis

Seafood Processor:
Chair, Story Reed, DMF
Jared Auerbach – Seafood Processor
Tory Bramante – Seafood Processor
Gordon Carr – MassPort
Nick Giacalone – Seafood Processor
Laura Ramsden – Seafood Processor
Jim Saxonis/Mike Trupiano – Seafood Processor
Ed Washburn – New Bedford Harbor Development Commission

CARES Relief Links

Listed below are links about this funding announcement and additional CARES Relief opportunities for individuals and small businesses.

Additional Resources