Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $6.7 million in relief aid is being distributed starting today to New York’s seafood, marine commercial, and for-hire fishing industries after excessive business losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. New York State will distribute an additional $5.7 million in the coming months, for a total of $12.4 million, through the Marine Fisheries Relief Program, which administers federal funding provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
“From seafood markets to commercial harvesters and charter boat captains, New York’s marine fishing industries experienced severe losses during the pandemic and continue to endure longstanding impacts today,” Governor Cuomo said. “These awards will provide necessary relief to an industry that adjusted drastically to maintain safe and viable seafood distribution throughout New York while continuing to support local businesses and sustain jobs in our coastal communities.”
The New York State Marine Fisheries Relief Program assists marine fishing industries and provides critical support for COVID-19 economic recovery. Eligible New York State applicants from seafood, commercial fishing, and marine recreational for-hire fishing businesses have been awarded relief based on reported economic loss experienced in 2020 compared to the previous five years. The state’s allocation was determined by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries based on the total average annual revenues from New York’s fishery-related businesses. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation worked cooperatively with NOAA Fisheries and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to receive approval for a New York Fisheries Relief Program Spend Plan that establishes the framework for determining eligibility and distributing this funding.
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “New York’s marine fishing and seafood industries are not only vital to the state’s economic health, they are a major asset and catalysts for tourism, recreation, and maritime opportunities. DEC remains steadfast in our commitment to supporting these industries and this relief aid is just one of the many steps ahead in our efforts to come back stronger than ever in our recovery from COVID-19.”
In November 2020, Governor Cuomo announced the availability of funding and DEC received nearly 300 applications from New York individuals and businesses during the Dec. 1 to Dec. 31, 2020, application period. More than half of the applications received were from commercial harvesters that experienced losses up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Seafood shipping businesses and the aquaculture industry represented a smaller portion of applications, but in some circumstances their losses exceeded multiple millions of dollars. Additionally, New York’s for-hire fishing industry experienced significant economic losses ranging from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Award recipients will receive a letter accompanied by a check via mail to the address provided on their application.
NOAA Fisheries recently announced an additional $255 million in fisheries assistance funding provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. New York will receive $5.7 million to support activities previously authorized under the CARES Act, as well as additional funding to provide relief to Great Lakes Fisheries. DEC will work cooperatively with NOAA Fisheries and ASMFC to develop a second New York Spend Plan over the next 90 days that establishes the framework for determining eligibility and distribution of this additional funding.
New York’s Marine Fisheries Relief Program and Spend Plan were developed in consultation with an advisory group comprised of various New York fishery industry stakeholders. The State recognizes and applauds the valuable input and essential review provided by the advisory group in order to implement a comprehensive program to ensure New York’s diverse seafood and fishing industries receive fair and equitable funding support. Members of the advisory group are:
- Robert Danielson, Marine Resources Advisory Council Member and Recreational Fishing Stakeholder;
- Melissa Dearborn, Marine Resources Advisory Council Member and Marine Trade Industry Representative;
- Neil Delanoy, For-Hire Fishing Industry Representative;
- Anthony DiLernia, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council New York Representative and For-Hire Fishing Industry Representative;
- Daniel Farnham, Jr., Commercial Fishing Industry Representative;
- Emerson Hasbrouck, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County;
- Thomas Jordan, Marine Resources Advisory Council Member and Commercial Fishing Industry Representative;
- Paul McCormick, Aquaculture Industry Representative;
- Christopher Quartuccio, Aquaculture Industry Representative;
- Gregg Rivera, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County; and
- August Ruckdeschel, Suffolk County Department of Economic Development and Planning.
New York’s marine resources are critical to the State’s economy, supporting nearly 350,000 jobs and generating billions of dollars through tourism, fishing, and other industries. New York’s efforts to secure and distribute this funding for the fishing industry is just one of several steps taken by Governor Cuomo to help these industries, enhance critical marine habitat, and sustain fisheries. New York continues to challenge the unlawful and unfair quota allocated to the State in the commercial fluke fishery by pursuing a lawsuit against the U.S. Commerce Department.
The State is embarking on its fourth year of the historic expansion of artificial reefs off the shores of Long Island to boost New York’s recreational and sport fishing and diving industries. Coupled with the nation’s largest offshore wind agreement, record investments in the Environmental Protection Fund and Clean Water Infrastructure Act, a ban on offshore drilling, the passage of the ‘bunker bill’ to prohibit the taking of menhaden with the use of purse seines to protect this keystone species, continued progress on the Long Island Shellfish Restoration initiative, and other programs to protect and improve water quality, the Governor’s efforts are realizing a cleaner and healthier marine environment for all New Yorkers.