Second COVID-19 relief bill includes money for fishing
The COVID-19 relief bill enacted this week includes hundreds of millions of dollars more for the fishing industry.
This legislation allocates nearly $ 900 billion in COVID-19 aid and was part of the consolidated measure passed by Congress this month and signed by the President this week.
This will mean another payment of $ 300 million for nationwide fishing aid. This reflects the amount of the first stimulus bill at the start of the year. Alaska Republican Dan Sullivan said the money would help Alaskans in the industry.
“Of course, the Alaskan fishing community in my opinion needs this in a very important way, which is why we originally put it in the CARES Act – and that’s only ‘an advantage over this specific program,’ Sullivan said on a conference call with reporters before Christmas.
Alaska licensees and businesses could receive a total of $ 50 million from the CARES Act in March, and this new bill will result in additional payments.
The state’s final spending plan for the first $ 50 million allocates just over $ 17 million to commercial fishing license holders, over $ 15 million to seafood processing companies and over $ 13 million to the sport fishing and charter sector. The remainder could be paid to subsistence fishermen affected by the pandemic and to the aquaculture sector. Applications for this program are not yet open.
The supply bill passed this month also includes $ 1.5 billion for the Agriculture Department to buy food, including seafood. Sullivan said there are also subsidies and loans for food processors to cover the costs of COVID-19 protection for their workforce.
“The fish processing facilities, in fact, was one of those things that in some ways fell through the cracks of the initial funding for the CARES Act,” he said. “It was available within the $ 1.25 billion the state had, but in terms of the federal CARES Act funding program, it didn’t really fit into any of the different types of relief. And so we worked to make sure there was some relief in this next relief package. “
Sullivan also pointed to an expansion of the Seafood Trade Relief Program, which makes more than half a billion dollars available to fishermen affected by retaliatory seafood tariffs.
“Sixteen of the 19 products in this half-billion-dollar program were Alaskan fishery products,” Sullivan said. “So this is a program that we have extended for another month and which is having a huge and positive impact on our fisheries as they go through these difficult times.”
Millions more are assigned to hydrographic surveys to map the ocean floor, observe ocean conditions, implement the Pacific Salmon Treaty and study ocean acidification.
The giant spending bill also ensures that seasonal and commercial fishing businesses can increase their loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. There is also a $ 200 million fund created to support timber harvesting and transport companies affected by the pandemic.
And the legislation extends the timelines for states, municipalities, and tribes to spend the CARES Act funding until the end of 2021. Petersburg received $ 3.9 million in funding and had not spent all of it at the end of 2020.