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CARES Act: Marine and Coastal Fisheries Assistance from COVID-19 Effects

(Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security)





NH Fish and Game Marine Division Contacts:

Cheri Patterson, Chief Marine Fisheries Division - 603-868-1095,
Renee Zobel, Marine Biologist - 603-868-1095,


Overview of CARES Act:

On May 7, 2020, the Secretary of Commerce announced the allocation of $300 million in coastal and marine fisheries assistance funding through Sec. 12005 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, CARES Act, to states, territories, and tribes with fishery participants who have been negatively affected by COVID–19.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries determined the revenue impacts relating to COVID-19 on the fishing communities and allocations to partners—the interstate marine fisheries commissions, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands—to fairly disburse funds to address direct or indirect fishery-related losses as well as subsistence, cultural, or ceremonial impacts. The table below is a summary of allocations to the Atlantic coast states. The NOAA CARES Act Funding webpage shows the full list of state, territory, and tribal distributions – NOAA – CARES Act (COVID-19). See additional information pdf on the fishing sector-based proportion of revenues for each state that contributed to the total U.S. revenues used in the allocation of the $300M of CARES Act funds from NOAA Fisheries. New Hampshire has been allocated $2,710,668 from this CARES Act package.

General Process:

Each state along the East Coast, will develop spend plans based on the CARES Act criteria and NOAA’s guidance. Fishery participants eligible for funding include tribes, commercial fishing businesses, for-hire fishing businesses, aquaculture businesses, seafood processors and dealers, and other fishery-related businesses. All spend plans must describe how the funding, including direct payments, fishery-related infrastructure, and fishery-related education, will address direct and indirect COVID-19 impacts to the commercial harvesters, for-hire fishing businesses, aquaculture businesses, subsistence/tribal users, processors and dealers, and other fishery-related businesses. Once a state’s spend plan has been approved by NOAA, the states will work with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) to process payments to eligible fishery participants on behalf of the states.


Also of note, for the purposes of Sec. 12005 funding, businesses farther down the supply chain—including vessel repair businesses, restaurants, or seafood retailers—are not considered "fishery-related businesses."

General CARES Act Eligibility:


  • Resident or business in New Hampshire
  • Eligible:
    • Only marine commercial fishing businesses, marine charter/for-hire fishing businesses, marine aquaculture businesses, seafood wholesale dealers and processors, and tribes. All must be a resident of New Hampshire (no minors).
    • Only businesses that have suffered >35% loss caused by COVID-19 relative to previous 5-year average.


New Hampshire Status (NOTE: This section will be frequently updated with the latest status reports.)


The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Marine Division (NHFG) will be working through the ASMFC to finalize the New Hampshire (NH) CARES Act fisheries/seafood relief spend plan to be submitted to NOAA Fisheries. The New Hampshire Spend Plan will be developed through a public process with industry participation:


  1. Starting with small Sector workgroups (aquaculture, for-hire, commercial saltwater and lobster, and seafood processors/dealers) to develop a strawman spending plan for each Sector.
  2. NHFG will send the workgroup’s strawman spending plan to the 2020 licensed industry in a survey platform for the industry, as a whole, to comment.
  3. NHFG assembles the individual Sectors spending plans into one NH Spend Plan.
  4. The Advisory Workgroup reviews the NH Spend Plan and works with NHFG through the approval and remaining industry’s qualification and appeal processes.
  5. NH’s Spend Plan will be sent to ASFMC and approved by NOAA Fisheries.
  6. The NHFG will work with ASMFC and the qualified seafood industry to get the funding out as soon as possible.


The NHFG started the process of developing a NH Spend Plan by coordinating with selected members of the industry in small workgroups from the seafood dealers/processors, commercial harvesters, for-hire recreational, and marine aquaculture sectors to develop strawman spend plans for each sector. NHFG will have a draft spend plan to present to NOAA Fisheries by mid-August.


The five small workgroups met in June for their first meetings and drafted survey questions for the rest of the industries to have input into the spend plans. The second set of meetings; Aquaculture workgroup met in July, and the other four workgroups in August, allowed the workgroups to refine the spend plan based on survey results. Surveys were either emailed or mailed to the licensed industry members of the drafted strawman spend plans for public comment.


Seafood Sectors Workgroup Meetings – only 4-5 members/Workgroup:


  • 1st Workgroup meeting, June 2
  • 2nd Workgroup meeting, July 16


  • 1st Workgroup meeting, June 5
  • 2nd Workgroup meeting, August 6


  • 1st Commercial Saltwater and Lobster Workgroup meetings, June 9 and 11
  • 2nd Commercial Saltwater and Lobster Workgroup meetings, August 3 and 4

Dealers and Processers

  • 1st Workgroup meeting, June 16th
  • 2nd Workgroup meeting, August 5


  • 1st Workgroup meeting, August 12


Seafood Sector Workgroup's presentations, survey results, and membership:



Frequently Asked Questions:


  • What are Spend Plans?
    • A Spend Plan outlines how New Hampshire will strategically plan, qualify, and fairly disperse the grant funds to the affected industries under the criteria and guidance from the CARES Act and NOAA Fisheries.
  • How will New Hampshire receive the allocation of funds ($2,710,668)?
    • NOAA Fisheries will pass the allocated Atlantic Coast funds to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. New Hampshire will first work with the affected fishing industries, create a spend plan, then submit a qualified list of businesses and amount to be distributed to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission for payment.  All funds must be dispersed by September 2021.
  • Does every eligible business qualify for CARES Act relief funds?
    • No. Only businesses that suffered greater than a 35% loss caused by COVID-19 relative to previous five years will qualify for these funds.
  • When can businesses apply?
    • Once NOAA Fisheries approves the New Hampshire spending plan, this site will be updated with full application instructions and eligibility criteria. Currently, New Hampshire is drafting the spend plan and is not yet ready to accept applications.
  • Who can I contact with further questions?
    • For more specific questions please email We will respond to all inquiries as soon as possible. Please keep in mind we are still in the early draft stage and will not have specifics on the spend plan until early to mid-July.
  • How can I be sure to be notified by email of draft spend plan surveys?
    • If you are an eligible person or business that is licensed in New Hampshire, please email to make sure your email is in our licensing database; we will respond as soon as possible.
  • What if I am a resident of New Hampshire but conduct my seafood business in another state?
    • As the CARES Act indicates, your state of residency is one of the eligible criteria to receive funds. If you are a resident of New Hampshire and feel you qualify for CARES Act funds, please contact the Region 3 Office, or call 603-868-1095, so we can work with you to determine further eligibility. If you reside in another state but conduct your seafood business in New Hampshire you must contact your state of residence. Here is a link to the ASMFC website that identifies an email and/or contact information for all the Atlantic coast states working with the ASMFC.