What is the CARES Act?
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law by the President on March 27, 2020. This more than $2 trillion economic relief package was designed to protect the American people from the public health and economic impacts of COVID-19. The CARES Act provides direct economic assistance for American workers, families, and small businesses, and preserves jobs for American industries.
On May 7, 2020, the Secretary of Commerce announced the allocation of $300 million in fisheries assistance funding provided by the CARES Act to states, Tribes, and territories with coastal and marine fishery participants who have been negatively affected by COVID-19. The State of California was allocated $18,350,586. As a next step, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries will use these allocations to make awards to partners, including the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC). Based on plans developed by each state, PSMFC will disburse the funds to address direct or indirect fishery-related losses as well as subsistence, cultural, or ceremonial impacts related to COVID-19.
CDFW Spend Plan
CDFW has coordinated with the PSMFC, NOAA, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska to develop a spend plan consistent with the CARES Act and NOAA’s guidance. The overarching goals of the spend plan are to distribute the funds equitably and efficiently with a focus on assistance to smaller businesses that may not have access to other types of relief provided by the CARES Act.
Given the wide-ranging nature of impacts and large number of participants expected to qualify for relief, CDFW is proposing to use the price paid for commercial entitlements held by individuals and businesses at the end of the 2019/20 season as the basis for fund disbursement. The sum of fees required for these entitlements will establish the baseline payout for each qualified applicant. The remainder of funds will be distributed equally to all qualified applicants. There are more than 11,500 potentially eligible applicants comprising offshore, shoreside, aquaculture, CPFV, and guide sectors. Eligibility will be based on a variety of criteria related to, among other things, a minimum 35% loss of fishing related income due to COVID-19 during the period January 1 – June 30, 2020 and certification that the applicant has submitted all required landing receipts, logbooks and/or other required documentation demonstrating active involvement in the qualifying sectors.
For a detailed description of the spend plan and estimated payments please see the complete spend plan (PDF).
CDFW will distribute all available funds as direct payments to qualified individuals and businesses impacted by COVID-19. The total CARES Fisheries Assistance Funds available for California direct payments are $18,145,125. CDFW will use the price paid for commercial entitlements as the initial basis for fund disbursement.
Qualification Criteria and Eligibility
Qualified applicants must meet all criteria below:
- Possession of a valid commercial fishing license, fish business license, aquaculture registration, and/or guide license at the close of the 2019/20 fishing season or 2019 calendar year.
- Fishing related businesses that are non-permit holders will not be eligible.
- Applications will only be sent to qualified permit holders.
- Self-certification of eligibility under the CARES Act (P.L. 116-136) Section 12005.
- Self-certification that funds will be used to address fishery-related losses.
- Self-certification that the recipient is over 18 years of age.
- Self-certification of a minimum 35% loss of revenue due to COVID-19.
- Self-certification of California residency and that the individual/business is only seeking CARES Fisheries Relief funds in California or description of why non-resident permit holder is eligible and self-certification that the individual/business is only seeking CARES Fisheries Relief funds in California.
- Self-certification of timely submittals of all required landing receipts, logbooks, landing fees, aquaculture production reports, or other fishery related documentation.
- Self-certification that the sum of all CARES Act funding, any additional COVID-19 related Federal financial assistance, and traditional revenue, including state unemployment, does not exceed the average annual revenue earned across the previous five years.
- Commercial Passenger Fishing Vessel License Holders – in addition to the above:
- Submission of Commercial Passenger Vessel Certificate of Insurance for the period January to June 2020.
- Submission of Certificate of Participation in Chemical Testing Requirements for Inspected and Uninspected Passenger Vessels per 46 CFR 16.230.
- Guide License Holders – in addition to the above:
- Self-certification that fishing activity used to calculate minimum 35% loss is on qualifying anadromous species as reflected in logbooks submitted to CDFW.
Funds will be disbursed based on the sum of the 2019 License Year resident fees for qualifying licenses and permits possessed by qualified applicants as a baseline payout. The remainder of funds will be distributed equally to all qualified applicants. Some applicants may qualify under multiple permit classifications (individual, business, and vessel).
See Disbursement Calculation details (PDF).
Timeline for Disbursement of Funds
All applications submitted by the deadline are being processed by Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC). Once all applications are reviewed and the final disbursement totals are calculated, PSMFC will begin processing payment. Additional information will be provided as soon as its available.
Please direct inquiries to CDFW at CARESfisheriesInfo@wildlife.ca.gov.