• Long Beach Breeze

CARES Act includes fishery business assistance

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council met virtually June 15 - 18. During the meeting, the Department of Commerce provided an update on the Federal Fisheries Assistance Package, which is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Funding for Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas will be administered through the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, while funding for Florida will be administered through the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. Commercial, recreational, and for-hire fishery businesses are eligible for assistance if they experienced at least a 35% loss in revenue. Each state is responsible for determining the amount of revenue loss for businesses and for determining spending plans.

The Council heard a summary of comments detailing how COVID-19 has impacted fishing around the Gulf of Mexico. NOAA Fisheries presented the Council with landings data showing a slight decrease in the commercial landings and the price of red snapper, gag, and red grouper since the pandemic started. The decrease in commercial harvest and price are not significantly different from trends from previous years.

Recreational data collection programs were interrupted by the pandemic in mid-March, April and May in most of the Gulf states; thus, landings estimates are not yet available. The Council decided to wait until its next meeting before providing recommendations on whether to modify management to mitigate impacts from COVID-19.

Also during the meeting, the Council decided to allow a temporary exception to the Council Chairman and Vice Chairman's two-year term limit for the upcoming year, allowing them to serve a third term. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Council business has not been conducted in its normal manner or at its usual pace. The Council said that it would be difficult for a new Chairman and Vice Chairman to take those positions during these irregular circumstances and decided to allow the temporary exception. Election of Council Chairman and Vice Chairman will occur at the August meeting.

The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council is one of eight regional Fishery Management Councils established by the Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. The Council prepares fishery management plans, which are designed to manage fishery resources within the 200-mile limit of the Gulf of Mexico.

For more information about the Council, its programs and the relief efforts, visit www.GulfCouncil.org.

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