State urges fishing industry to apply for $24M in virus aid

July 21, 2021 GMT

BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts’ fishing industry is being urged to apply for nearly $24 million in federal coronavirus relief funds.

Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration said Tuesday that commercial fishermen, shellfish farmers and seafood processors, and for-hire recreational vessel owners are eligible for the aid through $2.2 trillion stimulus bill passed by Congress last year.

Baker said the funds are meant to mitigate losses incurred last year when demand for seafood and for-hire fishing services declined.

“The fishing industry was particularly hard hit during the pandemic, with very limited exports of seafood and a big downturn in restaurant sales,” said Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said in a statement. “The distribution of an additional $23.8 million will give needed relief to fishermen and fishing related businesses who have been severely impacted by the pandemic.”

Baker said the state Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Marine Fisheries is sending applications to eligible businesses this week and must be completed and returned to the agency by Aug. 28. The payments are expected to be completed by the end of September.

Massachusetts received one of the highest allocations in the second round of COVID-19 fisheries relief funding, Baker’s office said.