CARES Act Fisheries Relief for California

Frequently Asked Questions

I am a commercial fisherman, fish receiver, licensed aquaculturist, or licensed guide. Do I qualify for these funds?

You may qualify, depending on whether you participated in commercial fishing related activities under a California license or permit and experienced at least a 35% loss in income due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Additional details can be found on this page.

How will funds be split up?

Payments will be made to qualifying individuals in the amount of the sum of the residential cost for licenses and permits purchased in the 2019/2020 fishing season along with an equal split of the remaining funds available.

I am only seeking the refund of my 2019 permit fees, how do I fill out the application?

The CARES relief funds are not a “refund.” The cost of permits listed on your application as the “base payment” is the initial basis for CARES act relief, but it is not a refund of the fee(s) and will be increased by an equal share of remaining funds for all qualified participants. You cannot apply for a “permit refund” separately. We are using license possession to identify potentially qualified individuals, who will still have to self-certify a minimum 35% loss in income among other criteria.

When will I receive payment?

All applications submitted by the deadline are being processed by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC). Once all applications are reviewed and the final disbursement totals are calculated, PSMFC will begin processing payments. Additional information will be provided as soon as it is available.

My commercial vessel registration lists family members and/or other business partners, and the vessel does not have any specific permits associated with it. Does everyone listed as owners on the commercial vessel registration need to sign the CARES Application even though we do not have any specific vessel permits in 2019?

Yes, everyone listed as owners on the vessel registration or any other permits needs to sign the application to receive funds.

Do I use my the NET or GROSS revenue for the past 5 years to calculate my historical average?

Due to the various business models and accounting methods employed by the different individuals/businesses, it is up to the applicants to determine how to specifically calculate losses. You will need to ensure you meet all the eligibility requirements associated with a 35% loss due to COVID-19 and have sufficient documentation and records to defend/explain the approach should you be audited.

Why was the period of January 1 – June 30, 2020 chosen for the revenue calculation?

We recognize that each sector and individual business was impacted differently and that many impacts are still occurring. The January 1 - June 30 timeframe was vetted with sector representatives, the National Marine Fisheries Service, and the other west coast states and was designed to balance the need to get the funds out quickly with the limited information available when the plan was developed.

Does the SBA Payroll Protection Loan disqualify me from applying for the CARES Fisheries Relief Fund?

Receipt of SBA Payroll protection loan (e.g. Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) or Paycheck Protect Program (PPP)) does not automatically disqualify you from applying for California CARES Fisheries relief fund. However, you will need to self-certify that the sum of all CARES funding, any additional COVID-19 related federal financial aid (including SBA loans), and traditional revenue, including state unemployment, does not exceed the average annual revenue earned across the previous five years.

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.

Fisheries Assistance

On May 7, 2020, the Secretary of Commerce link opens in new windowannounced 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 link opens in new windowPSMFC, 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 link opens in new windowcomplete 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.

Disbursement Calculation

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 link opens in new windowDisbursement 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.