U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Secures Win for Fisheries, Great Lakes in Coronavirus Relief Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, Ranking Member of the Commerce Subcommittee on Science, Oceans, Fisheries and Weather, successfully secured $300 million in Fisheries Disaster Assistance to fishermen affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, including $15 million that will go directly to Great Lakes fisheries. The funding was included in the government funding legislation that passed Congress and was signed into law by the president.

In March 2020, the CARES Act provided $300 million to the Department of Commerce to aid Tribal, subsistence, commercial, and charter fishery participants affected by the pandemic, but unfortunately, the U.S. Commerce Department implemented the law in a way that disqualified Great Lakes fisheries from any of the CARES Act fishery assistance funding. Baldwin worked to ensure that Great Lakes fisheries and fisherman will be eligible for this new round of funding, with $15 million set aside specifically for fishery participants in states bordering the Great Lakes and $30 million for Tribal fisheries of federally recognized Tribes and Alaska Native groups.

“Fisheries are a major economic driver in many communities, and it’s critical that we take action to support our Great Lakes fisheries who have been hit hard by this pandemic,” said Senator Baldwin. “Investments in the Great Lakes are an investment in the future of Wisconsin’s economy, and I’m proud to have secured this important funding to ensure our fisherman can keep working to move our economy forward.”

Tribes, fishermen, fishing communities, aquaculture businesses, and other fishery-related businesses are eligible for assistance if they have incurred as a direct or indirect result of the COVID-19 pandemic: 

  1. Economic revenue losses greater than 35 percent as compared to the prior 5-year average; or
  1. Any negative impacts to subsistence, cultural, or ceremonial fisheries.

These funds may be awarded on a rolling basis, and within a fishing season, to ensure rapid delivery of funds during the pandemic.