Final Covid-19 relief fund for fishing industries distributed

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – A final COVID-19 relief fund of $1.2 million was distributed to eligible people in the fishing industries. This is the tail end of the COVID-19 relief fund after the 2 main payments that were distributed before to revitalize the fishing industry.

With restrictions, closures, and shifts in consumer behavior…the fishing industry faced major challenges over the past few years from the pandemic.

Clay Jackson, a retail manager at the Blue Ocean Market in Morehead City said, “It was kind of…what do we do now? We lost a lot of our restaurant business, our retail business, our wholesale business, and everybody went indoors.”

As with several other things, the CARES ACT has brought hope and stabilization to the devastated industry.

Because Jackson’s business as a seafood dealer/processor works with local fishermen, he has seen the direct impacts of these relief funds.

“It helped our fisherman get over that hump and through those times, which we are so thankful. That is generations of business and the fact that they were able to get help so that we can still work together, that helps everybody,” Jackson shared.

Tuesday, the $1.2 million relief fund went out to commercial fishermen, aquaculture operations, and seafood dealers/processors who had income losses of 35% or more in revenue from March to December of 2020, according to the NC Division of Marine Fisheries spokesperson Patricia Smith.

“The whole idea is trying to make the fishing industry as whole as it could, but of course, it was it was not to make it more than whole, so there were payments that could not be made if you did not meet the qualifications,” Smith explained.

No additional funding went out for for-hire operators, as they were fully compensated through past relief funds.

Over 200 commercial fisherman and marine aquaculture operations, and 35 seafood dealers/processors will benefit from the final funds.