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 will be provided when available.

When will applications be available?

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is working with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission to establish an online/electronic application process. Applicants will have a 45-day window to file an electronic application once the application period opens. All potential applicants who hold a California commercial license or permit will be notified via postcard when the applications are available. Additionally, interested parties can sign up on the email notification list on this page to be notified.

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.

What are the CARES Act and the Consolidated Appropriations Act?

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 was signed into law by the President on December 27, 2020. This more than $2 trillion spending bill combines $900 billion in stimulus relief for the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States with a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill for the 2021 federal fiscal year and prevented a government shutdown.

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 provided direct economic assistance for American workers, families, and small businesses, and preserved jobs for American industries.

Fisheries Assistance

On March 29, 2021, the Secretary of Commerce announced the allocation of an additional $255 million in fisheries assistance funding(opens in new tab) provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The funding will support commercial fishing and associated activities previously authorized under Sec. 12005 of the CARES Act. It was allocated to states and territories with coastal and marine fishery participants who have been negatively affected by COVID-19.

On May 7, 2020, the Secretary of Commerce announced the allocation of $300 million in fisheries assistance funding(opens in new tab) provided by the CARES Act to states, Tribes, and territories with coastal and marine fishery participants who had been negatively affected by COVID-19. The State of California was allocated $18,350,586. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries used these allocations to make awards to partners, including the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC). Based on plans developed by each state, PSMFC disbursed 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 coordinated with NOAA, the PSMFC(opens in new tab), Oregon, Washington, and Alaska to revise the prior spend plan to be consistent with the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the CARES Act, and NOAA’s updated guidance. The funding addresses direct and indirect COVID-19 impacts to eligible fishery participants, including: commercial fishermen; charter businesses; qualified aquaculture operations; subsistence, cultural, and ceremonial users; processors; and other fishery-related businesses. CDFW worked with industry leaders across eligible sectors to craft the revised spend plan that was submitted to, and approved by, NOAA Fisheries. Some important requirements for applicants to note include

  • Non-residents are not eligible for funds unless they are residents of a state that did not receive an allocation.
  • Qualified aquaculture operations include privately owned aquaculture businesses growing products in state or federal marine waters of the United States and the hatcheries that supply them. This includes all molluscan shellfish and marine algae. Non-salmonid marine finfish grown in marine waters not covered by USDA are also included.
  • Applicants must self-certify under penalty of perjury a greater than 35 percent loss of gross income over a minimum 4-week consecutive timeframe during the 2020 calendar year (Jan 1, 2020 – December 31, 2020) when compared to the same time period averaged across the previous five years (2015-2019) due to COVID-19.
  • Entities that have been in business less than five years are still eligible for assistance.
  • Applicants cannot be made “more than whole” when accounting for direct payments provided under PL 116-136, along with another direct financial assistance received through programs including, but not limited to, the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster Loan/Advance, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.
  • Direct payments may not be directed to minors.
  • Funds cannot be used to compensate state, local, or tribal governments for lost municipal or government tax revenue.

The total amount of funding available to the state of California for direct payments is $15,245,610. Direct payments will be made to eligible and qualified individuals and businesses based on COVID-19 related losses scaled to available funds. You can find a link to the revised spend plan overview (PDF)(opens in new tab), as well as to the full plan (PDF)(opens in new tab) below.

Contact Information and Address Verification Instructions

All CDFW commercial permit/license holders should ensure their contact information, including email, is up to date by July 15, 2021. Please visit CDFW's Online License Sales and Services web page, and follow the instructions at the link below.

Please direct inquiries to CDFW at CARESfisheriesInfo@wildlife.ca.gov.