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Input Sought on CARES Act Fisheries Plan

MOREHEAD CITY – The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries is seeking input from the public on a draft spending plan for $5.4 million in federal coronavirus fisheries assistance.

The spending plan must be approved by National Marine Fisheries Service for the state to receive the funding provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act.

The draft spending plan proposes an approach for disbursement of the funding through direct payments to eligible commercial fishermen, charter businesses, seafood dealers and processors, and qualified aquaculture operations who can document a greater than 35% revenue loss compared to the previous five-year average due to COVID-19.

The draft spending plan and other information pertaining to the draft can be found online on the CARES Act Fishery Assistance Information page. Written comments on the plan may be submitted through an online form that can be accessed via the website or by mail to: Draft CARES Act Fisheries Assistance Spending Plan Comments, P.O. Box 769, Morehead City, N.C. 28557.

Comments should be posted online or postmarked by 5 p.m. June 19. The division will not accept comments submitted by email.

The CARES Act authorized $300 million for economic assistance to affected fishery participants due to COVID-19.

Officials said the number of fishing industry participants that may be eligible for assistance likely will exceed the $5.4 million provided.

The money will be disbursed through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to the state once the spending plan is developed and approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service.

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.