Due to the business losses in 2020 and 2021 from the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Kathy Hochul announced $5.7 million in federal aid provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act is being distributed to New York’s seafood, marine commercial, and for-hire fishing industries. These funds will be added to the additional funds provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. The grand total of aid for the marine industry of New York amounts to $13.1 million. Individual aid can be as little as $400 or all the up to an impressive sum of $100,000. The average payout came in at $17,500. Amounts were based upon the loss reported by applicants and they received an award of up to 40 percent of their reported loss. More than half of those who received aid were in the commercial sector but several for-hire recreational fishing businesses also received aid.
Out of the 204 businesses that applied for the aid, 194 of them met the criteria. The main requirement was a minimum 35 percent loss during the eligible period of time. Even the few that were denied still have the opportunity to appeal to the DEC and try again for aid.
It’s evident that the pandemic had a negative effect on many businesses, including many in the marine sector. We’ve watched some go out of business while others struggled to just ‘get by’. This aid will surely help those who have struggled these past few years due to the past and present economic conditions. Lieutenant Governor Delgado commented, “Many marine fishing businesses struggled throughout the COVID pandemic as workers became difficult to hire or retain and the business model switched to a more straight to consumer-based model than a restaurant-based model.” He followed up by saying “This additional federal appropriation for the marine fishing industry will provide much needed relief above and beyond the Coronavirus funding previously provided and help save New York’s seafood, marine commercial, and for-hire fishing industries.”
Other prominent figures also weighed in on the topic of marine aid. Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos commented, “We are committed to supporting our marine fishing and seafood industries as they respond to challenges amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. The aid announced by Governor Hochul and secured by our federal leaders is essential for these industries to build back, but we must also continue to support and strengthen our marine fishing interests that provide invaluable recreational opportunities and fresh, local seafood.”
Representative Adriano Espaillat followed up by saying, “New York’s fisheries are a necessary part of the state’s economic wellbeing, and I commend Governor Hochul on today’s announcement to allocate $5.7 million in federal funding secured in Congress through the 2022 federal budget to help in the ongoing relief and recovery of New York’s fisheries following the impact of the pandemic. This much needed funding will help bolster jobs and security for individuals and families whose livelihoods are tied to the fishing industry within our state.”
Even Senator Chuck Schumer stepped up and said, “This is a huge catch for New York’s fishing industry. I am proud to have hooked this historic $5.7 million in federal relief for businesses from the Great Lakes to the Long Island Sound. New York’s fishing industry is still reeling from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and this dedicated assistance will help one of our oldest heritage industries leave troubled waters and set sail on a path to recovery and a brighter future.”
The impact of the pandemic has been felt by many different parts of the industry. Some of these effects were actually good as many tackle shops and manufacturers saw increased sales during the height of the pandemic due to increased interest. While this is true, it did severely affect many others, hence the need for economic aid. With the recent cost of doing business due to increased fuel prices, the aid is absolutely critical to keeping many of these businesses afloat.