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 commerical fishing and aquaculture businesses.
1. Who is Eligible?
From the CARES Act, "Tribes, persons, fishing communities, aquaculture businesses not otherwise eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDassistance under part 1416 of title 7CFR for losses related to COVID-19, processors, or other fishery-related businesses, who have incurred, as a direct or indirect result of the coronavirus pandemic".
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 NJ 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?
An eligible loss is any economic revenue losses greater than 35% as compared to the prior 5-year average revenue.
Businesses that have been around for fewer than five (5) years may still be eligible to receive assistance. The MFA is currently determining how losses will be calculated for businesses that have been around for fewer than five (5) years. Once MFA has an approved application and spend plan, more details will be provided.
3. How do I apply for CARES Act funds?
The MFA is currently working on developing an application process for CARES Act assistance. Before the application process is made available to the public, it must first be approved through NOAA. MFA is working as fast as possible and intends on making the application process electronic. More information about the application process will be made available once the MFA has an approved plan.
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?
Fishery participants will only be able to apply and receive funding through their state/territory of residence.
5. How long will it take to receive funding?
There are many steps that need to occur before fishery participants will receive funding. First, NOAA needs to release the money to the ASMFC. Then New Jersey's MFA must submit a spend plan in accordance with the CARES Act and NOAA's guidance. The MFA is working as fast as possible to develop this process and get it approved in order to begin accepting applications.
6. How is it determined how much an approved applicant will receive?
The MFA is currently developing an application process and spend plan for the allocation of direct payments to applicants. The MFA is currently considering the best way to make direct payment by sector. Once MFA has an approved spend plan and application process, more information on direct payments will be provided. If payments will be tiered depending on losses, the calculation that will be used to determine the amount each application will receive will be shared.
MFA is working closely with the NJ Marine Fisheries Council and Shellfish Councils to develop their spend plan and application.
7. Why doesn't the MFA have any information on the CARES Act and application process yet?
We have some answers, but unfortunately, we do not have them all. The MFA is working hard to get all questions answered and begin the application process as fast as possible.
The reason for the delay in information is because NOAA is allowing each state to develop their own application process and spend plan for their allocated money. Although this does slow down the process, this is the best way to create a fisheries assistance program that is effective, fair, and equitable. There is so much diversity within the fisheries industry that it would be a disservice to create a one-size-fits-all plan for the entire country. MFA is currently working as fast as possible on developing the best plan for the fisheries industry in New Jersey. MFA and NOAA understand that getting direct payments out as fast as possible is very important and completing this process is top priority.
More information about specifics on New Jersey's Fisheries Industry Assistance Program will be provided to the public as soon as NOAA approves MFA's application process and spend plan.
In the meantime, additional information on the CARES Act can be found through the following links:
8. Why can't the state take my information to contact me when more information is available?
Unfortunately, MFA does not have the capacity to take contact information for every individual interested in the Fisheries Assistance Program and reach back out to them all directly as new information becomes available. We expect thousands of businesses to apply to this program. However, getting information out to the public once MFA has an approved application and spend plan is a top priority.
Subscribe to the Marine Fisheries CARES Act Information E-mail list to receive notice of updated information.
9. Since the allocation of money will be based on lost revenue and not predicted, will I need to wait until this is over to apply? If I am in need of the money, will they be able to add a supplemental addition down the line?
MFA is currently developing a plan that will take future losses into consideration. Under consideration is a quarterly application period to accommodate the whole year of losses, while still being able to get assistance payment out to applicants before the end of the year. Once MFA's spend plan and application process has been approved, more information about future losses and payment will be provided.
10. Am I allowed to apply for/receive multiple sources of relief funding?
Businesses can apply to multiple sources of relief funding. However, a business cannot receive a total combined benefit amount that exceeds their total losses. In other words, a business cannot be made more than whole. 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. Applicants will be required to provide MFA with information on other programs that they are applying for and will be required to sign an affidavit stating that they have not been made more than whole through multiple assistance programs. All applications will be subject to audit.
11. Can aquaculture businesses receive assistance through the USDA and the MFA?
Yes, like other businesses, aquaculture business can receive assistance through multiple programs so long as they are not made more than whole by the assistance. However, the CARES Act section 12005 specifically states the following, "aquaculture businesses not otherwise eligible for assistance under part 1416 of Title 7 of the Code of Federal Regulations (7CFR part 1416) for losses related to COVID-19" are eligible for fisheries assistance through the CARES Act.
7CFR part 1416 refers to 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.
12. What are some other programs that may be available to me?
Here is a list of helpful links to other assistance programs:
13. Will I have to pay back the funding that I receive for this program?
Any direct payments that are received through this program will not need to be paid back.
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. Who can I contact if I have additional questions?
For questions or concerns, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 609-748-2020.
Back to CARES Act Information
Updated May 22, 2020