N.J. fishing industry to get another $9.5M for COVID relief
An incoming tide of federal dollars aims to lift a few boats, bait shops and seafood markets in the Garden State.
New Jersey is set to receive another $9.5 million in COVID-19 relief money for the state’s fishing industry, U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, D-6th, announced Tuesday.
“New Jersey’s fishing communities were deeply affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which is why I fought so hard to include robust funding for them in Congress,” Pallone said in a statement. “I want the hardworking men and women who make our fishing industry so strong to know they have my support. I’m glad we were able to ensure that the fishing community in New Jersey is receiving assistance to weather this ongoing economic storm.”
Commercial and recreational fishing is a multi-billion dollar industry in New Jersey, supporting tens of thousands of jobs. But the sector was hit hard by the pandemic. Prices for fish plunged as restaurant demand evaporated. Charter boats spent weeks tied to docks after COVID-19 safety measures were put in place.
The influx of cash comes from the $900 billion relief package passed by Congress and signed by former President Donald Trump in December. The money will be given to New Jersey by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, after the state Department of Environmental Protection gets a spending plan for the money approved. The DEP plans to submit its plan in coming days.
“Our fishing communities are a critical component of New Jersey’s culture and economy, and their recovery helps drive our state’s economic recovery,” said Shawn LaTourette, the acting commissioner of the DEP, in a statement.
Last year, the federal government sent $11 million to New Jersey’s fishing industry as part of the CARES Act. That money was distributed in March, with $6.1 million awarded to the state’s commercial and aquaculture sector, $3.8 million to seafood dealers and processors and $1.1 million to the recreational fishing sector. The funds were distributed as grants to 89 businesses.
Between the two packages, nearly $20 million in federal aid has been dedicated to the state’s fishing businesses — a figure that doesn’t include other relief money like the Payroll Protection Program or small business disaster loans.
The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act signed by President Joe Biden in March does not include more relief for the fishing industry.