PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Congressional Delegation and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today announce that commercial fishing and charter/for hire businesses, qualified aquaculture operators, seafood processors, and dealers are eligible to apply for an additional $255 million in assistance funding provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The funding will support activities previously authorized under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
DEM's Division of Marine Fisheries is administering this second round of fisheries disaster relief in response to COVID-19. Businesses in four sectors – commercial fishing, commercial aquaculture, seafood processors/wholesale (dealers), and charter/for-hires – may be eligible for assistance in the form of direct payments if they can quantify direct and indirect COVID-19 losses.
"The fishing industry took a big hit from COVID-19, which is why we mobilized at the outset to secure funding from a wide array of sources. This latest round of federal aid will go a long way to helping these businesses and our coastal communities overcome the economic challenges posed by the pandemic. I'm pleased to help make these funds available and will continue working to assist local businesses engaged in commercial and recreational fishing, aquaculture, and seafood processing," said Senator Jack Reed.
"The seafood industry is an important part of our economy and our way of life in Rhode Island," said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. "I was pleased to help make this additional federal support available to protect fishing jobs and make up for heavy losses from the height of the pandemic."
"Our fishing industry took a serious hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Congress quickly responded by delivering more than $250 million in disaster relief to cover the losses suffered," said Rep. Jim Langevin. "We cannot fully recover from the pandemic until the fishing industry is made whole again. I'm committed to doing just that, and I'm proud to join my colleagues in delivering this crucial federal assistance."
"The fishing industry is incredibly important to our state, and I know Rhode Islanders are proud to be known for it and our fresh seafood," said Congressman David Cicilline. "This additional round of fisheries assistance funding will help support the hardworking men and women from this industry who were seriously impacted by the COVID-19 public health crisis. I encourage folks to apply as soon as possible so we can get this relief funding out into our communities quickly."
"There has been an unprecedented recognition of both the struggle that the fishing industry went through during the pandemic as well as the value of this industry to the state of RI and the nation as a whole, so we are proud to partner with the Congressional Delegation, federal government, and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to get these relief funds out as quickly as possible to this impacted community," said DEM Deputy Director of Natural Resources Jason McNamee.
Eligible applicants must demonstrate they had a greater than 35% loss in revenue in the sector-specific reference periods in 2020 relative to their average revenue during the same period from 2015 to 2019. The sector-specific reference periods are as follows:
- Commercial Aquaculture: March 1-May 31, 2020
- Commercial Fishing: April 1-July 31, 2020
- For-Hire (Party and Charter): May 1-December 31, 2020
- Seafood Processing/Wholesale: March 1-May 31, 2020
The application period opened Sept. 13 and will close Sept. 27. Applications (combined with affidavits) are available here. Hard copies of the application are also available at the following locations:
- DEM's Office of Technical & Customer Assistance, 235 Promenade St., Providence, RI
- DEM's Division of Coastal Resources, 301 Great Island Road, Narragansett, RI
- DEM's Division of Marine Fisheries, 3 Fort Wetherill Road, Jamestown, RI
Additionally, an Excel worksheet is available for download with the application to help with calculation of both percent loss and claim value.
The Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) has created a streamlined data request process for applicants to obtain their commercial fishing landings data digitally. Persons wishing to obtain data in support of their applications must submit a fully completed form, available here.
Data requests will be processed on a rolling basis and must be submitted by or before Sept. 20. Please note that DMF may not be able to fulfill data requests that do not provide complete answers to all questions. To avoid delays associated with incomplete data requests, please answer all questions completely.
Fully completed and notarized applications must be submitted in hard copy, i.e., hand delivered, during the application period, Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 4 PM to any of the three offices mentioned above. Neither mailed submission nor electronic submissions of application forms will be accepted. Please read and follow the directions on the application closely. No applications will be accepted or considered if submitted after the application deadline.
For more information on, this Fisheries Assistance Program, including the Rhode Island Spend Plan and the Regulations governing the program, please click here.
For more information on DEM's programs and divisions, visit www.dem.ri.gov or follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RhodeIslandDEM or via Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM).