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Secretary of Commerce Announces Allocation of an Additional $255 Million in CARES Act Funding to States and Territories

March 29, 2021

Congress also designates new funding specifically for Tribes and Great Lakes.

Portland fishing harbor at sunset

NOAA Fisheries announced the allocation of an additional $255 million in fisheries assistance funding provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The funding will support activities previously authorized under Sec. 12005 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). It will be allocated to states and territories with coastal and marine fishery participants who have been negatively affected by COVID-19. 

“Our priority is to award these funds as quickly as possible using existing processes established under the CARES Act,” said Paul Doremus, Acting Assistant Administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “As a next step, we will use these allocations to provide additional funds to our partners—the interstate marine fisheries commissions, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands—to disburse funds to address direct or indirect fishery-related losses as well as subsistence, cultural, or ceremonial impacts related to COVID-19.”

The commissions then will work with each state and territory to revise their prior spend plans to be consistent with the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the CARES Act, and NOAA’s guidance. Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will submit spend plans to the agency directly. All spend plans must describe the main categories for funding, including direct payments, fishery-related infrastructure, and fishery-related education. The funding will address direct and indirect COVID-19 impacts to eligible fishery participants, including:

  • Commercial fishermen
  • Charter businesses
  • Qualified aquaculture operations
  • Subsistence, cultural, and ceremonial users
  • Processors
  • Other fishery-related businesses 

Congress also designated $30 million for all federally recognized Tribes in coastal states and the Great Lakes and $15 million for Great Lakes states. We will work with our state partners and Tribes to determine the approach we will use to allocate this funding to eligible fishery participants as quickly as possible. 

Similar to the first round of CARES Act funding, once a spend plan has been approved by NOAA, the agency anticipates that the three commissions will review applications. They will then process payments to eligible fishery participants on behalf of the states and territories, though states will have the option to process payments themselves.

Eligible fishery participants should work with their state or territory’s marine fisheries management agencies to understand the process for applying for these funds.

For the purposes of this funding, businesses farther down the supply chain—including vessel repair businesses, restaurants, or seafood retailers—are not considered “fishery-related businesses.”

In addition to these funds, fishery participants may also be eligible for assistance from Small Business Administration or U.S. Department of Agriculture COVID programs.

Summary of Allocations*: 

State or Territory

Allocation of Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 Funding

















New Jersey




New York


North Carolina










Rhode Island


New Hampshire


American Samoa








South Carolina




Puerto Rico










* Final award amounts will be different due to Hollings and other assessments.


Last updated by Office of Sustainable Fisheries on May 11, 2021