Photo courtesy At Altitude Gallery Cape Charles, Onancock
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced $4,520,475 in federal funding from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to support coastal and marine fishery participants who have been negatively affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. The federal funding was made possible by Section 12005 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act supported by Sens. Warner and Kaine.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every sector of our economy including fisheries and our seafood industry, which is already particularly susceptible to the forces of nature that determine when produce is ready for harvest,” said the Senators. “We’re glad to know that these funds will help provide some needed relief to help Virginia’s seafood industry withstand this crisis.”
Section 12005 of the CARES Act authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to provide $300 million in appropriated funds to assist fishery participants affected by the COVID-19. Specifically, these funds will help address direct or indirect fishery-related losses as well as subsistence, cultural, or ceremonial impacts related to COVID-19.
Fishery participants eligible for funding – including tribes, commercial fishing businesses, charter/for-hire fishing businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, processors, and other fishery-related businesses – will be able to work with their state marine fisheries management agencies, territories, or tribes to apply for these funds.
Sens. Warner and Kaine have long advocated for Virginia’s seafood industry – a community largely made up of rural, family-owned operations. Earlier this week, the Senators joined their colleagues in sending a letter to Senate leaders asking them to make sure urgently needed federal assistance is delivered to America’s fishermen and seafood processors who have been affected by this crisis. Additionally, in February, the Senators urged the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to release additional H-2B visas needed to support local seafood businesses in Virginia and states like Alaska, Maryland, and North Carolina.