$50M CARES fisheries package awaits application process

Funding to help myriad sectors of the fishing industry hit by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is coming to Alaska, but for now the draft spending plan for the $50 million is a work in process at the state Department of Fish and Game.

That draft spending plan is necessary “so we know where the money is going and what questions we need to ask,” said Kari Winkel special projects assistant at ADF&G. Once written, that draft plan must be approved by NOAA Fisheries before an application process is created.

“We are hoping to get the application process going by this fall,” Winkel said. “The funds have to be distributed by Sept. 20, 2021.”

The funds are intended to help, although they won’t make anyone severely impacted economically by the pandemic whole, and yes, those checks are considered taxable income.

Under a plan announced in May by the U.S. Department of Commerce $50 million of the $300 million under the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security) Act is earmarked for fisheries assistance to all coastal states and territories. Those funds are to be distributed.

Participation is open to commercial fishermen, charter businesses, aquaculture businesses, processors, subsistence harvesters, tribes and other fishery related businesses impacted by the pandemic. Nonresident commercial fishermen and at-sea processors must apply in their home state, but nonresident charter businesses, processors and aquaculture businesses may apply in Alaska.

Alaska and Washington state got the largest allocation of the funds for coastal states, a total of $50 million each. Reimbursement of funds will not be required to pay back, as long as they meet all requirements.

ADF&G anticipates that most applications will come from the commercial and charter sector.

Meanwhile, the agency is trying to get an idea of how other states who received an allocation plan to distribute those funds, “so we can account for those who cross state lines, so they can’t apply to more than other states for the same relief,” Winkel said.

Comments and questions regarding these funds may be sent to Winkel at dfg.com.caresact@alaska.gov

For updates on the CARES Act process and opportunities to participate sign up for updates at