JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The federal government has approved Alaska’s plan to give the state’s fishing industry almost $50 million in pandemic relief.
The decision came after two major revisions to the plan and more than 200 public comments from every industry sector, CoastAlaska reported Friday.
“It really was a balance between getting the funds out quickly and developing a spending plan with the input of affected fishery participants,” said Alaska Department of Fish and Game Deputy Commissioner Rachel Baker.
The final details of the plan were published on Thursday.
Commercial applicants will be required to provide evidence that the coronavirus pandemic caused them to lose at least 35% of revenue in 2020.
Applications will be accepted from March until May and payments could begin as early as June, CoastAlaska reported.
Baker said the final plan excludes commercial permit holders who fish in Alaska but live in other states that received coronavirus relief.
“Non-Alaska resident commercial harvesters who fish up here but live in a state that received a CARES Act allocation must apply to their state of residence,” Baker said. “They’re not eligible to apply to the state of Alaska for a funds.”
Non-resident charter guides are eligible if they have an Alaska business license, CoastAlaska reported.
The money will come from the first federal coronavirus relief bill Congress passed in 2020. More than $17 million will be earmarked for commercial fishermen. Roughly $13 million will go to sport and charter guides and about $500,000 will go to the state’s aquaculture businesses.
About $2 million will go to rural households that had pandemic-induced problems accessing subsistence fisheries, with extra funds also available for households below the federal poverty line.