N.J. cleared to provide $11M in relief for sinking fishing industry
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has approved New Jersey’s plan to spend $11.3 million in federal fisheries relief, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-6th Dist., announced Tuesday. The approval allows state authorities to begin distributing the money, which was allocated to the state as part of the $2 trillion CARES Act that became law in March.
The funding will be available as grants to fishing industry businesses that have had their revenues decline by at least 35% during the pandemic, Gov. Phil Murphy subsequently announced Thursday. Applicants seeking funding will be required to show their five-year revenue history and proper tax identification.
“Fishing is an integral part of New Jersey’s identity and a critical component of our economy”, said Gov. Murphy “This grant program will help these businesses recover losses they have incurred during very difficult times. And we can all play a role in supporting New Jersey’s fishing industry by buying from local seafood suppliers and enjoying fishing through charter boat operations and bait and tackle shops.”
New Jersey’s fishing industry is estimated to total $2.5 billion, according to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Pallone added that the industry supports about 50,000 jobs.
“This is another step in the right direction to ensure that New Jersey’s fishing industry gets the funding it needs to weather the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and ongoing economic storm,” Pallone said. “This pandemic has been devastating to the men and women of our state’s fishing industry, and I am fighting to make sure they receive the federal funds promised. Our fishing communities need assistance now, which is why it is so important that these funds be released quickly.”
Applications for the funding will be accepted by the DEP beginning Oct. 19. Eligible businesses include commercial fisheries, aquaculture businesses, seafood processors, seafood dealers, recreational charter boats and bait shops.
Other businesses, like vessel repair shops, seafood retail locations and restaurants, are not eligible for the relief funding.
To further support commercial fishers, the DEP and the state Department of Agriculture launched a Support New Jersey Seafood website to help customers find local businesses. A similar tool is being developed for recreational fishing businesses, according to the DEP.
Earlier this week, Murphy also announced $100 million in CARES Act funding would be made available for families and small businesses.