The state of New Jersey is making $11.2 million in financial aid available to commercial and recreational fishing businesses that have seen their income plummet during the covid-19 public health emergency, Gov. Phil Murphy and state environmental commissioner Catherine R. McCabe announced Thursday.

The funding is available as grants to eligible businesses that document a 35 percent loss in revenues as a result of the pandemic. As the Garden State’s share, the funding is from a $300 million allocation for fishing industries in coastal states provided by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“Fishing is an integral part of New Jersey’s identity and a critical component of our economy,” Murphy said in announcing the grants. “This grant program will help these businesses recover losses they have incurred during very difficult times. And we can all play a role in supporting New Jersey’s fishing industry by buying from local seafood suppliers and enjoying fishing through charter boat operations and bait and tackle shops.”

The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Marine Fisheries Administration will review applications and administer financial assistance to eligible business. An online application process will start Monday, October 19, 2020, through DEP’s electronic grants management system, NJDEP SAGE at https://njdepsage.intelligrants.com

Details on the specific information that fishermen and business operators must provide for their grant applications are available at the Marine Fisheries Administration’s CARES website, at www.njfishandwildlife.com/cares_info.htm. Applications will be posted there, as well as further updates to the program.

Questions may be submitted by email to [email protected] Applicants will have 30 days from the date of the posting of the online application to request funding.

The amount of individual payments to applicants will be based on the number of total eligible applicants and the allocation of funds across three different sectors:

• Commercial and aquaculture businesses,

• Processors and dealers and

• Recreational fisheries

Eligible fisheries-related businesses include commercial fisheries, aquaculture businesses, processors, dealers, and recreational fishery businesses, including for-hire businesses as well as bait and tackle shops.

The program requirements stipulate that some businesses in the sector, including vessel repair shops, seafood retail locations, and restaurants, are not eligible to receive assistance under this program.

To be eligible:

• Applicants must have experienced a greater than 35 percent loss in fishery related revenues between March 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020, as compared to their 5-year average revenue for the same time period.

• Individual applicants must be New Jersey residents and business applicants must be located in New Jersey.

• Applicants must have been in business for at least one year prior to 2020.

• Applicants will be required to provide a total estimate of revenue for the full year of 2020 and provide information on all Covid-19 related financial assistance that they are receiving.

• Applicants must meet all mandatory licensing and permitting requirements in their sector for 2020.

For more CARES Act information and resources from the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, visit www.asmfc.org/home/cares-act-resources

Associate Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been a field editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for almost 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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