A rising tide of federal dollars aims to lift a few boats, bait shops and seafood markets in the Garden State.
New Jersey is expected to receive an additional $ 9.5 million in COVID-19 relief funds for the state’s fishing industry, U.S. Representative Frank Pallone, D-6th said on Tuesday.
“New Jersey’s fishing communities have been deeply affected by the coronavirus pandemic, which is why I fought so hard to include strong funding for them in Congress,” Pallone said in a statement. “I want the hard working men and women who make our fishing industry so strong to know that they have my support. I’m glad we were able to ensure the New Jersey fishing community receives help weathering this ongoing economic storm.
Commercial and recreational fishing is a multi-billion dollar industry in New Jersey, supporting tens of thousands of jobs. But the sector has been hit hard by the pandemic. Fish prices fell as restaurant demand evaporated. The chartered boats spent weeks docked after COVID-19 safety measures were put in place.
The influx of money comes from the $ 900 billion relief plan passed by Congress and signed by former President Donald Trump in December. The money will be returned to New Jersey by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, after the state’s Department of Environmental Protection approves a spending plan for the money. The DEP plans to submit its plan in the coming days.
“Our fishing communities are a vital part of New Jersey’s culture and economy, and their recovery is helping drive our state’s economic recovery,” DEP Acting Commissioner Shawn LaTourette said in a statement.
Last year, the federal government sent $ 11 million to the New Jersey fishing industry under the CARES Act. This money was distributed in March, with $ 6.1 million allocated to the state’s commercial and aquaculture sector, $ 3.8 million to seafood traders and processors, and $ 1.1 million to the seafood sector. recreational fishing. The funds were distributed in the form of grants to 89 companies.
Between the two packages, nearly $ 20 million in federal aid went to state fishing companies – a figure that does not include other relief funds like the wage protection program or loans. small businesses in the event of a disaster.
The US $ 1.9 trillion bailout bill signed by President Joe Biden in March does not include more relief for the fishing industry.
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Michael Sol Warren can be reached at [email protected].