Over $4.3 Million Distributed to Eligible Fisheries Stakeholders in North Carolina for COVID Relief

[photo courtesy Jennette’s Pier]

More than $4.3 million in financial assistance is on the way for eligible members of the fishing industries who suffered income losses from March to December 2020 due to COVID-19.

The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries issued funds this week to 265 commercial fish harvesters and marine aquaculture operations, for-hire fishing operations, and seafood merchants and processors deemed eligible for relief from the federal fisheries assistance program of the North Carolina Consolidated Appropriations Act (CARES Act II). Payments were made in the following categories:

In August 2021, North Carolina received a net of $4,385,651 from the CARES II Act to provide financial assistance through direct payments to fisheries-related stakeholder groups impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 19. Federal law required applicants to document a total loss of income greater than 35% of the average total income for the same period of the previous five years to be eligible for relief. Additionally, applicants had to affirm that this relief, combined with any other CARES Act-related relief received, would not result in overcompensation for their financial losses in the 2020 calendar year.

The division developed a spending plan with public input for the program which was approved by NOAA Fisheries in August 2021. Applications were accepted from August 16 through October 1, 2021. No relief funds could be distributed until all applications and appeals have been reviewed and finalized because funds have been allocated based on the proportion (percentage) of total eligible revenue claimed for fishing losses within a group of stakeholders compared to the total pool of money available for that group.

The proportions allocated to each category of eligible actors differ from those initially approved in the expenditure plan. After review and approval of eligible applicants, the highest amount that could be awarded to eligible applicants in the for-hire transaction category was $439,198.44. This amount offset 100% of the losses approved in the for-hire category and left $613,357.56 unspent. The CARES Act II spending plan allowed excess funds to be transferred from a fully compensated category to the category with the lowest proportional compensation, so that the unspent amount of the stakeholder category of operations on behalf of others were reassigned to the seafood dealers and processors category. This increased the compensation of seafood dealers and processors from 4.5% of approved losses to 9.93% of approved losses.

The proportion of allocation has not changed in the category of commercial fishermen and marine aquaculture activities. Stakeholders in this category were compensated for 28.95% of approved losses.

In addition, $160,295 was used for divisional administrative costs.

For questions about CARES Act II, email [email protected] or call (252) 808-8179.

This story originally appeared on OBXToday.com. Read more local stories here.

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