April 29, 2020

Senators Warren and Markey, and Reps. Moulton and Keating Demand Immediate Guidance for Fisheries Disaster Assistance Funding During Coronavirus Emergency

CARES Act passed more than a month ago, and lack of guidance has caused confusion, extensive delay in distribution of financial assistance

 Text of Letter (PDF)


Washington, DC  – Today, Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), and Representatives William Keating (MA-09) and Seth Moulton (MA-06) called for the Department of Commerce to immediately issue guidance for how the fishing and seafood industries can access the designated $300 million in relief funds included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. In their letter to the Commerce Department, the Massachusetts lawmakers report that it appears that a lack of coordination by the Trump administration is behind the lack of timely guidance and ask how the Commerce Department will provide guidance, as well as when assistance will be distributed.


The CARES Act was signed into law more than a month ago, and while other programs have already released funding to provide economic relief to various communities and industries, the Commerce Department has yet even to release guidelines for how disaster assistance can be accessed by struggling fishing and seafood businesses.  


“This silence and delay poses a particular problem because fishery participants do not know how to determine whether they will be eligible for the CARES Act assistance,” wrote the lawmakers in their letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “The Commerce Department needs to issue guidance as soon as possible so that fisheries aid can reach those who desperately need it.”


Earlier this month, Senators Warren and Markey urged the Commerce Department and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to provide a swift, equitable, and transparent process in distributing the $300 million in fisheries disaster relief funds included in the CARES Act. Last month Senator Warren joined Senators Markey, Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) in calling on Senate leadership to support the fishing industry in the Phase 3 coronavirus economic relief package.