N.J. to provide $11M in pandemic relief to struggling fishing industry

Eligible businesses include commercial and recreational fisheries, aquaculture businesses, processors, dealers, and bait and tackle shops.

Ann Kathryn sails into the Manasquan Inlet

In this Sept. 11, 2019 photo, the commercial fishing boat Ann Kathryn sails into the Manasquan Inlet in Manasquan, N.J. (Wayne Parry/AP Photo)

Commercial and recreational fishing businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in New Jersey may be eligible for financial assistance.

State officials say a pool of $11.2 million is available to certain businesses that document a 35% loss in revenue as a result of the pandemic.

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

The funding stems from a $300 million allocation for fishing industries in coastal states provided by the federal CARES Act.

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The New Jersey Division of Fish and Wildlife’s Marine Fisheries Administration will review applications for financial assistance.

“Fishing is an integral part of New Jersey’s identity and a critical component of our economy,” Gov. Phil Murphy said in a statement. “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 state estimates the economic value of commercial and recreational fishing at some $2.5 billion annually.

Last week, Murphy announced another $100 million in coronavirus aid to help New Jersey residents and business owners.

The fishing relief funds will be distributed through several existing programs:

  • $70 million for the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s Small Business Emergency Assistance Grant Program
    • Half of the funding will be targeted toward food service industry firms, while $15 million will be set aside to help microbusinesses with five or fewer employees.
  • $10 million for the EDA’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Access Program
  • $15 million for the state’s ongoing rental assistance program
  • $5 million in aid for “food banks, soup kitchens and other hunger relief”

WHY’s Joe Hernandez contributed to this report. 

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