NC Division of Marine Fisheries

MOREHEAD CITY — Financial aid for members of the fishing and seafood industries may be coming from the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries’ spending plan for federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act fisheries assistance has been approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service. The state now awaits notification from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, an interstate fisheries management agency with jurisdiction in the federal waters off the Atlantic coastal states, including North Carolina, that the $5.4 million has been awarded.

The spending plan details the state’s approach for disbursement of the funding through direct payments to eligible commercial fishermen, charter businesses, seafood dealers and processors and qualified marine aquaculture operations.

Once the division receives notification of the award from the ASMFC, it will initiate a process that includes a 30-day application period, likely open in late fall. The DMF will notify the public when application packets are mailed to eligible license, lease and permit holders. Application packets will be available online or at division offices for eligible stakeholders who are not licensed by the DMF. In Carteret County, DMF headquarters are located at 3441 Arendell St. in Morehead City.

The CARES Act requires applicants for fisheries assistance to meet economic revenue losses greater than 35% as compared to the prior five-year average revenue to be eligible for relief. Applicants will be required to complete the application, an affidavit and provide supporting materials that document loss of revenue greater than 35% from March 1 to May 31, 2020, as compared to the average revenue from the same period of the previous five-years.

In addition, applicants must affirm this assistance will not result in overcompensation for their financial losses in calendar year 2020. This means the combination of fisheries assistance with any other CARES Act relief, such as the Paycheck Protection Program, Small Business Association loan or unemployment payments, plus their fisheries income and/or other income in 2020 will not exceed their average annual revenue from the previous five years or a minimum of one year for those in business less than five years. Only relief that does not need to be paid back should be factored into this equation.

The NMFS notified the DMF May 7 the fisheries service had allocated $5.4 million in CARES Act fisheries assistance to North Carolina. Receipt of the funding, which passes through the ASMFC, was contingent on federal approval of the spending plan, which was received Sept. 9.

The approved spending plan and other related information is available online at portal.ncdenr.org/web/mf/cares-act. The application and other necessary documents will be added to this site when the application period opens.

Questions regarding the spending plan may be sent by email to covid19relief@ncdenr.gov. Anyone with questions may also call 252-808-8105.

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