WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) announced that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will be allocating $15 million in relief for eligible Great Lakes fisheries that experienced economic losses related to COVID-19. This funding was provided by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which Joyce voted for last December.
Ohio will receive a total of $2,601,275, which will be distributed to eligible fisheries with the help of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission. The Commission will work with each state to develop their spend plans to be consistent with the Consolidated Appropriations Act, the CARES Act and NOAA’s guidance. Once a state spend plan has been approved by NOAA, applications for assistance will be reviewed by the state. The Great Lakes Fishery Commission will then process payments to eligible fishery participants on behalf of the states, though states will have the option to process payments themselves. Once Ohio’s spend plan has been approved, OH-14 fishery participants should work with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Division to understand their eligibility and the application process for these funds.
“COVID-19 inflicted significant economic damage across a number of different industries, including fisheries in the Great Lakes region,” said Joyce, a Co-Chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force. “Great Lakes fisheries are collectively valued at more than $7 billion annually and support more than 75,000 jobs. It’s critical that they receive the assistance they need to recover from the pandemic so that they can continue to be economic drivers in our communities and support the national treasure that is the Great Lakes system. I applaud NOAA for awarding this much-needed funding and look forward to continuing to support their efforts to help our nation’s fisheries, tribes, and commercial and recreational fishing industries.”
In March of 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which appropriated $300 million to aid tribal, subsistence, commercial, and charter fishery participants affected by COVID-19. However, the Great Lakes fisheries were conspicuously left out of allocations once CARES became law. In response, Joyce joined a number of Representatives and Senators from the Great Lakes region in writing to both the Administration as well as Congressional leadership requesting that Great Lakes fisheries be made eligible for any future assistance Congress provides for fisheries in response to the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read those letters here and here.