Murkowski Announces Disbursement of CARES Act Funding to Alaska’s Fisheries
Alaska set to receive the highest possible allocation in fishery relief
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) today announced that $50 million in fishery assistance, secured through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and. Economic Security (CARES) Act, will be disbursed this week to Alaska’s commercial harvesters, sport fishing charters, and seafood processors. This funding comes as a result of the efforts of Senator Murkowski to make direct assistance available to subsistence, commercial, and charter fishery participants, processors, fishery-related businesses and fishery-dependent communities that have been negatively affected by the economic and other impacts of COVID-19.
“Alaska’s fisheries and seafood sector are a critical driver of our State’s economy, employing more than 58,000 people and producing billions of dollars in economic output in our state each year. Unfortunately, I continue to hear from Alaska’s seafood industry about the numerous ongoing challenges they are facing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As I worked to help craft the CARES Act, I was adamant that robust funding was included for those who bring Alaskan halibut, salmon, and countless other seafood products to market. I recognize that the time between allocation and distribution has been frustrating and long, but I’m encouraged to know that those checks are officially hitting the mailboxes of hardworking Alaskans. The positive impacts this funding will have will be felt not only here at home, but across the nation as it boosts our economy and allows Alaska’s world class seafood to continue to be enjoyed around the globe,” said Senator Murkowski.
“This CARES Act funding is serving as a vital source of support for fishermen. We appreciate that Congress recognized the need to support those in our seafood supply chain that are experiencing losses, through this and other support programs,” said Chris Barrows, President of Pacific Seafood Processors Association.
“Alaskans from all fishing sectors owe a debt of gratitude to Lisa and Dan for directing so much relief to businesses based in our state. Many charter operators and guides were devastated by the loss of business due to COVID, and these funds are a welcome relief,” said Ben Mohr, executive director of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association.
“UFA is glad to hear that the initial $50 million of AK CARES Act Fisheries Relief funding is finally being distributed to Alaskans. We thank the Alaska Congressional Delegation for all the work that they did to secure this funding and applaud the delegation’s quick response to the economic harm caused by the pandemic, beginning back in 2020. The lengthy wait for the distribution of these funds, at a time when fishermen needed assistance the most, highlights the need for improvement of the distribution process for disaster relief funds for the fishing industry,” said Tracy Welch, Executive Director of United Fishermen of Alaska.
In May of 2020, as the pandemic was shutting down the U.S. economy, Senator Murkowski was able to help secure $300 million for fisheries assistance in the CARES Act, of which Alaska received $50 million. Congress approved a new authority through the CARES Act for the Secretary of Commerce to provide direct assistance to fishermen to address losses related to COVID. The State of Alaska worked with the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PAC States) and National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to create a spend plan for the first and second rounds of funding.
The Commission is currently drafting applications for round two, which are anticipated to be available in mid to late January of 2022. In order to apply for Round 2 funds, applicants will need to know their Round 1 relief amounts. Additional guidance will become available once applications have been finalized and approved by ADF&G staff.
For more information, please contact the ADF&G. or monitor the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission’s website.