Baton Rouge, LA. – The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will soon begin accepting applications for $12.4 million in financial assistance that will be available to Louisiana fishermen and others in the industry who have been financially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications for these funds will open at 8 a.m. August 9.
Applications can only be submitted online. To access the application, visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/cares-act-assistance.
The application process will be open for a three-week period, according to LDWF. Funding allocation has been structured so that all applications submitted before the deadline will be considered. The funds, part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CARES 2.0), will be distributed as direct aid payments by the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission to those applicants who qualify.
“These federal funds are another step in alleviating some of the financial impacts of the pandemic on our state,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “While we know these funds are not a cure-all, we are grateful for the relief they will provide for our hardworking fishing community.”
LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet agreed with Edwards. “This is more crucial aid for our fishing community. While it will not totally bail out all of those hard workers, it does provide much-needed financial help to them.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently approved the department’s spending plan for the federal funding dedicated to the state’s fishing industry.
CARES 2.0 and NOAA Fisheries have established that to be eligible, participants:
- Must be a “Fishery Participant” – This includes persons, fishing communities, aquaculture businesses, processors, or other fisheries-related businesses. (NOTE: Gear and vessel suppliers, repair facilities, retailers, restaurants, and bait and tackle operations are not viewed as fisheries-related businesses. In addition, freshwater fisheries, including wild crawfish, are ineligible.)
- Must have incurred economic revenue losses greater than 35% as compared to the prior 5-year average revenue. (NOTE: New businesses and entrants in 2020 with no prior revenue history are ineligible.)
- Must reside in the state that is providing funding.
The qualifying criteria are intended to include individuals directly affected by COVID-19 and not those that have either exited or entered the fishery prior to or after COVID-19, while also taking into consideration the impacts of the 2019 flood disaster.
Individuals who applied for the first round of CARES Act payments will be required to apply again but will not need to submit 2015-2019 tax information or the certified fishermen’s form if those documents were submitted and accepted during the first round.
Payments will be issued following the close of the application period. The amount of each payment will be determined by the number of eligible applications received.