Commercial fishing, shellfish, charter, and seafood industries are a vital part of Washington’s economic and cultural health, and the COVID-19 pandemic had severe impacts on these businesses and communities they support. Under Section 12005 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES), Congress provided $300 million to states, for distribution to fisheries participants, with Washington and Alaska receiving the highest allocation of $50 million each.
The Office of Governor Inslee developed a plan – consistent with the CARES Act – for distributing this funding with assistance from the Washington departments of Fish and Wildlife, Agricultural, Commerce, and the Washington Office of Financial Management. State officials met virtually with commercial fishers, shellfish growers and seafood processors to better understand the consequences of COVID-19 on the industries, coordinating with fisheries managers in neighboring West Coast states as well. The Governor’s office also convened discussions with the 24 treaty tribes to learn about their COVID-19 impacts to commercial, subsistence, cultural and ceremonial fisheries.
Up to $39 million is allocated to non-tribal commercial fishing, shellfish and charter industry members, with the remainder available to treaty tribal members for losses associated with commercial activities and any negative impacts to subsistence, cultural and ceremonial fisheries resulting directly or indirectly from the COVID-19 pandemic.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries recently approved the spend plan, which allows the application period to begin. The Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission will be distributing CARES Section 12005 funds from NOAA Fisheries.
Apply for CARES relief funding through the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission
Visit the PSMFC's website to apply. The deadline to postmark applications will be March 25, 2021. If choosing to upload to PSMFC’s secure ShareFile site, the upload date must be on or before 5 p.m. PST on March 25, 2021. Applications postmarked past March 25 or uploaded past 5 p.m. PST on March 25 will not be entertained or processed.
For questions or inquiries related specifically to Washington’s Sec. 12005 CARES Act Fisheries Assistance relief please email WACares@psmfc.org or call toll-free: 1-866-990-2738. If you have the ability to email, you may receive a quicker response due to the large volume of calls anticipated to be received. Alternatively, you may reach out to the WDFW at CARESfisheries@dfw.wa.gov.
The PSMFC anticipates disbursements to begin sometime in May 2021. PSMFC will review applications and disburse payments of approved claims to eligible applicants. It is anticipated that total claims will exceed available funds. If so, all disbursements will be scaled to available funds as described in Washington’s spend plan.
Please refer to psmfc.org/cares-act-the-coronavirus-aid-relief-and-economic-security-act for all materials. Applicants should review the spend plan and instructions prior to filling out the application. Do not email your application to PSMFC or WDFW due to the sensitivity of the information.
Feb 2021 public meeting
WDFW held a public meeting in late February for members of the commercial fishing, shellfish, charter, and seafood industries to share information about the spend plan development and answer questions. View the meeting presentation and video recording.
Previous virtual discussions as part of the spend plan development
In June, state officials met virtually with commercial fishers, shellfish growers and seafood processors to better understand the consequences of COVID-19 on the industries.
- Charter operators: (View presentation)
- Commercial harvesters and processors: (View presentation)
- Shellfish industry members: (View presentation)
- Virtual open house: Governor's Office and state agencies staff provided information on spending plan development and got feedback from industry. (View presentation and a recording of the meeting).
Additional resources on CARES ACT Assistance to fisheries participants are listed below.
• Information from NOAA Fisheries
• Spend plan guidance from NOAA Fisheries
• Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission website with information on CARES ACT assistance to fisheries participants.