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Division of Marine Fisheries seeks comments on draft spending plan for federal CARES Act relief

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries is seeking input from the public on a draft spending plan for $5.4 million in federal CARES Act fisheries assistance. The spending plan must be approved by NOAA Fisheries for the state to receive the funding.

The draft spending plan proposes an approach for disbursement of the funding through direct payments to eligible commercial fishermen, charter businesses, seafood dealers and processors, and qualified aquaculture operations who can document a greater than 35% revenue loss compared to the previous five-year average due to COVID-19.

The draft spending plan and other information pertaining to the draft can be found online on the CARES Act Fishery Assistance Information Page.

The public may submit written comments on the plan through an online form that can be accessed through the CARES Act Fishery Assistance Information Page or may submit comments by mail to:

     Draft CARES Act Fisheries Assistance Spending Plan Comments      P.O. Box 769      Morehead City, N.C. 28557

Comments should be posted online or postmarked by 5 p.m. June 19, 2020. The division will not accept comments submitted by email.

The CARES Act authorized the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to provide $300 million for economic assistance to affected fishery participants due to COVID-19. On May 7, 2020, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce announced state allocations of this funding.

While the full impact of COVID-19 on North Carolina’s fishing industry is not yet known, the number of fishing industry participants that may be eligible for assistance, will likely exceed the $5.4 million provided.

The money will be disbursed through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to the state once the spending plan is developed and approved by NOAA Fisheries.