NJ Marine Fisheries Council Reef Update & Cares Act Funding - The Fisherman

NJ Marine Fisheries Council Reef Update & Cares Act Funding

Through all of the pandemic mess, there was some good news released by the New Jersey Division of Fish & Wildlife on May 14 when the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Council convened via webinar.  According to state research scientist Jeff Brust, there are multiple reef deployments planned this season off the Jersey Coast, including deposits at Sandy Hook, Manasquan, Little Egg and Deepwater reef sites.

Brust also said the state’s Marine Fisheries Administration was looking to get started with trying to figure out how to dispense the $11.3 million in fisheries funding available to the state’s fishing industry through the recently passed CARES Act. “We’re still working on the process,” Brust said during the webinar, noting that the state has to develop the process first.

On May 7, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced the allocation of $300 million in fisheries assistance funding by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) for coastal and marine fishery participants negatively affected by the COVID–19 crisis.

“We are going to rely primarily on our partners at the interstate marine fishery commissions during the award process because they have a demonstrated track record of disbursing funds provided to them quickly and effectively,” added Chris Oliver, Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries. The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) has been tasked with working with individual states to develop “spend plans” consistent with the CARES Act under NOAA’s guidance.

According to NOAA Fisheries, state plans must describe the main categories for funding, including direct payments, fishery-related infrastructure, and fishery-related education that address direct and indirect COVID-19 impacts to commercial fishermen, charter businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, subsistence/cultural/ceremonial users, processors, and other fishery-related businesses. The agency anticipates that the ASMFC will review applications and process payments to eligible fishery participants on behalf of the states and territories, with states ultimately having the option to process payments themselves.

Those eligible for funding include commercial fishing businesses, charter/for-hire fishing businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, processors, and other fishery-related businesses. According to NOAA Fisheries, the term “fishery-related business” is limited to commercial fishing businesses, charter/for-hire fishing businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, processors, and dealers. However, while the federal agency said it “generally does not expect bait and tackle operations” to be eligible for these funds, the agency said individual states will have the discretion to determine how they ultimately identify eligible fishery participants, consistent with the requirements of the CARES Act.

According to NOAA Fisheries, eligible members of the recreational fishing industry will ultimately work with their individual state marine fisheries management agencies on eligibility and dispensation.

“As we know more we’ll be updating the information on the website,” Brust said referring potential applicants to visit www.state.nj.us/dep/fgw/index.htm or e-mail [email protected] with any questions.

According to NOAA Fisheries, coastal states in The Fisherman’s readership region and their allocation amounts (and national rankings in terms of funding) are as follows:

(3) Massachusetts – $28,004,176
(5) Maine – $20,308,513
(9) New Jersey – $11,337,797
(11) New York – $6,750,276
(16) Maryland – $4,125,118
(17) Pennsylvania – $3,368,086
(19) Rhode Island – $3,294,234
(20) New Hampshire – $2,732,492
(23) Connecticut – $1,835,424
(26) Delaware – $1,000,000