THE APPLICATION PERIOD FOR CARES ACT RELIEF CLOSED FRIDAY, DECEMBER 4 AT 5:00PM.
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The CARES Act is the federal program designed to provide relief to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The following FAQs pertain to issues affecting commercial fishing and aquaculture businesses. Affected individuals and businesses are encouraged to subscribe to the Marine Fisheries CARES Act Information E-mail list to receive notice of updated information.
1. Who is Eligible?
In other words, commercial fisheries, aquaculture, for-hire fisheries, processors, commercial fish/shellfish dealers/wholesalers, and manufacturers are eligible to receive assistance. There is a caveat that aquaculture businesses that can receive emergency agricultural disaster assistance through the USDA Farm Service Agency would not be eligible (7CFR part 1416). Aquaculture businesses should contact their county Farm Service Agency office to speak with them about their Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program (also known as ELAP) before applying for fisheries assistance through the Marine Fisheries Administration (MFA).
Businesses farther down the supply chain - including vessel repair businesses, restaurants, and seafood retailers are not considered "fishery-related businesses" and are not eligible for assistance.
In order to be approved for assistance, applicants must have incurred an eligible loss.
2. What counts as an eligible loss?
All applicants will be required to provide their fishery-related revenue from March 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020 for each sector in which they are applying. In addition, they will also need to provide their fishery-related revenue history from March 1 through June 30 for the previous five years (2015-2019). Applicants will be eligible for support if their 2020 revenue shows a greater than 35% loss over the previous five-year average. Applicants are required to have at least 1 year of revenue history in order to be eligible for payment.
An applicant will be required to report revenue data for all years in which the entity existed, even if the business was not active. Inactive years will still be used to calculate revenue loss, so long as the entity existed. All years in which the business was not active and had no revenue, but the entity existed, the total revenue that must be used is $0. An applicant does not have to include prior year revenue in their calculation if their business did not yet exist. Revenue must be broken down per sector. All sectors that show a greater than 35% revenue loss compared to the prior 5-year average revenue will be eligible for payment. The sectors are broken down as follows:
3. How do I apply for CARES Act funds?
Additional information on creating your online portal can be found in the SAGE First Time Users Quick Reference Guidance document. (pdf, 190kb). (pdf, 190kb)
The application period for Marine Fisheries COVID-19 CARES Act Assistance 2020 has been extended. The extended application deadline is now Friday, December 4, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. EST. For the full Notice of Funding.
4. In the instance that someone fishes in NJ but resides in another state, will they be given money from NJ or the state in which they reside?
5. How long will it take to receive funding?
Direct payments will be calculated once the application period has closed and all applications have been reviewed and processed. The review and appeal period will end within 24 days of the application deadline.
6. Will approved applicants receive the same amount of assistance or will the amount differ depending on the loss? Who determines the amount?
The allocation of funding per sector is based on NOAA's calculations for allocating money to the State of New Jersey.
Once MFA has an approved spend plan and application process, more information on direct payments will be provided.
MFA worked closely with the NJ Marine Fisheries Council and Shellfish Councils to develop their spend plan and application.
7. Can you explain the application process?
Applicants will apply for eligible losses in every sector for which they participate. The sectors are as follows:
3. Dealers & Processors
All applicants will be required to provide their fishery-related revenue from March 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020 for each sector in which they are applying. This revenue must be broken out per sector. In addition, they will also need to provide their fishery-related revenue history from March 1 through June 30 for the previous five years (2015-2019) for each sector. Applicants will be eligible for support if their 2020 revenue shows a greater than 35% loss over the previous five-year average. Applicants are required to have at least 1 year of revenue history in order to be eligible for payment.
An applicant will be required to report revenue data for all years in which the entity existed, even if the business was not active. Inactive years will still be used to calculate revenue loss, so long as the entity existed. All years in which the business was not active and had no revenue, but the entity existed, the total revenue that must be used is $0. An applicant does not have to include prior year revenue in their calculation if their business did not yet exist.
For example, if an entity was created in 2010 but was not active in the years 2016 and 2017, they will have to report their revenue for those years as $0. Their application may look something like this:
The calculation in this example will look like this: (100,000+0+0+150,000+110,000)/5= $72,000 average revenue. In this example the entity would not qualify for a payment because their revenue from March 1 through June 30, 2020 totaling 75,000 was not a 35% loss compared to their average 5-year revenue history for the same time period totaling $72,000.
Revenue must be broken down per sector. All sectors that show a greater than 35% revenue loss compared to the prior 5-year average revenue will be eligible for payment.
Applicants will also be required to provide information on all COVID-19 related monetary assistance that has been received.
Applicants must not be made more than whole for their losses seen between March 1 through June 30, 2020 over the course of 2020. Applicants will be required to provide an estimate of their total expected revenue for 2020. Applicants who expect to be made more than whole by December 31st, 2020 should note that if they are made more than whole they are required to return the excess money to ASMFC. Applicants are solely responsible for determining if they have been made more than whole.
In addition to meeting loss eligible requirements, applicants will answer a series of questions to determine if they meet all licensing and permitting requirements. Applicants should have handy any permit and license numbers while filling out the application. Here is a breakdown of required permits and licenses per sector:
Commercial Fishery Sector:
Aquaculture (within Commercial Sector):
Recreational Fishery Sector:
Dealers and Processors Sector:
The following species require a NJ dealers permit:
In addition, applicants must not be debarred form doing business with the State of New Jersey or the Federal government. Applications will be automatically checked against the Federal Database based on their DUNS number, as well as with the state and Federal treasury for any back taxes or child support that may be owed.
At the end of the application, applicants will electronically sign an affidavit stating that all the information on their application is correct and that they are subject to additional review and audit. All applicants must have documented proof available for review by MFA of all information provided on their application for assistance, and if requested, they must provide it to MFA. If an applicant refuses to provide documented proof or is found to have knowingly acted in bad-faith and provided falsified or inaccurate information, they will be denied assistance. If the application has already received the assistance, they will be required to pay back in full all funding that was received and may be subject to additional penalties.
Applicants will be notified at the time of submission if they meet all eligibility requirements. If the online application determines that they have not met these requirements, their application will be sent for a manual review by MFA staff. Applicants will be notified via their online portal once the manual review is complete. If it is determined that they do not meet eligibility requirements after the manual review, applicants will be provided with an appeal form. The appeal form must be submitted within 5 days.
Approved eligible applicants can expect to receive payment within 14 days of the application close date.
8. Since the allocation of money will be based on lost revenue and not predicted, will boats need to wait until this is over to apply? If they are in need of the money, will they be able to add a supplemental addition down the line?
9. What will happen to new businesses that have no previous record to indicate lost revenue?
10. Am I allowed to apply for/receive multiple sources of relief funding?
All applicants will be required to provide MFA a list of any COVID-19 related funding that they have received or expect to receive. In addition, applicants will be required to provide MFA with their estimated total revenue for the entirety of 2020. Applicants who expect to be made more than whole by December 31st, 2020 must note that if they are made more than whole they are required to return the excess money to ASMFC.
Applicants will be required to sign an affidavit stating that all information they provide on their application is true, to the best of their knowledge, and has been made in good faith. All applications will be subject to audit.
If you have any specific questions about where a program that you have received funding for counts against being made more than whole, please reach out to the MFA at 609-748-2020 or to reach us by email at email@example.com.
11. Can aquaculture businesses receive assistance through the Department of Agriculture and the New Jersey Marine Fisheries Administration?
7 CFR part 1416 refers for the USDA Farm Service Agency Emergency Agricultural Disaster Assistance Programs. Aquaculture businesses who are eligible to receive assistance through these disaster programs will not be eligible. Before applying for fisheries assistance through the MFA, aquaculture businesses should contact their county Farm Service Agency office to first determine if they are eligible to receive any assistance through them for COVID-19 related losses.
Applying to other USDA programs does not automatically disqualify aquaculture businesses from receiving assistance through MFA. They may receive assistance through both programs - as well as others- so long as the total benefit received does not exceed the total business losses. In order to ensure that fishery participants are not being made more than whole, they should not apply to other assistance programs to address the same impacts resulting from COVID-19. The different programs that participants apply for should all address different impacts of COVID-19.
A new Seafood Trade Relief Program was also announced by the USDA in September 2020 and applicants may also apply for funding through this program. This is for all commercial fishing businesses and not just aquaculture businesses. More information can be found here.
The only exception is if it is later discovered that falsified information was provided on an application that resulted in payment that should not have otherwise been received.
14. What else is the State of New Jersey doing to assistant the fishing industry at this time?
For more information about the Support NJ Seafood Story Map and to get your business added to the map, please visit www.njfishandwildlife.com/support_seafood_app.htm.
15. Will the spend plan be discussed at any of the Marine Fisheries Council meetings?
16. Who can I contact if I have additional questions?
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