Application period opens March 1; applications accepted through April 15
Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday announced nearly $2 million in federal funding is available for the New York Great Lakes Fisheries Relief Program, provided through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. Originally authorized by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, this funding will assist New York's Great Lakes fishing industry following the significant economic losses resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Eligible seafood, commercial fishing, and recreational for-hire fishing businesses will be able to apply for the funding beginning March 1.
"The COVID-19 pandemic impacted industries and businesses across the state, including New York's Great Lakes fisheries," Hochul said. "Great Lakes fisheries are vital economic drivers in hundreds of communities across Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. The critical funding announced today will help sustain this industry and this fishery for generations to come, and will provide the necessary support allowing it to thrive."
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation worked cooperatively with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries and the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission (GLFC) to develop a spending plan for available funding, including how funds may be distributed and which businesses are eligible within the state's commercial fishing and recreational for-hire industries.
DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "Businesses across New York state, including both the recreational and commercial fishing industries, experienced significant financial challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. DEC is committed to supporting New York's Great Lakes fisheries industries and will work collaboratively with our partners to expedite the distribution of this relief to eligible applicants."
Eligible fishery sectors include commercial harvesters and for-hire fishing operations based in the New York waters of Lake Erie or Lake Ontario, including the upper and lower Niagara River and the St. Lawrence River. Eligible New Yorkers must have participated in these fishing industries in 2020, and the previous five years. Applicants must demonstrate a greater than 35% revenue loss from fishery-related revenue during the pandemic (March 1 through Dec. 31, 2020, or Jan 1 through Dec. 31, 2021). If losses are claimed for both 2020 and 2021, applicants are required to file two applications. Ineligible businesses include fish processors/dealers, bait and tackle shops, vessel repair businesses, boat yards, restaurants, and seafood retailers.
Applicants are encouraged to review all criteria in the final fishery relief spend plan. Applications will be available on DEC's website and will be accepted from March 1 through April 15. DEC said it “will consider appeals from applicants deemed ineligible as part of a thorough and inclusive appeals process, while maintaining compliance with the federal program.”
DEC will work with GLFC to distribute funding to approved applicants. Aid will be made available to participants following approval of their application. As required by NOAA fisheries, all funds allocated to New York state must be released to participants by August 2023. Some award recipients may be the subject of a federal audit.