The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) will soon begin accepting applications for $14.6 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, announced Tuesday in an LDWF release.
The funds are part of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Applications open at 8 a.m. Monday, September 14, and must be submitted online.
To access the application, please visit www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/cares-act-assistance. The application process will be open for a six-week period. The deadline to submit applications is 11:59 p.m. on October 26. Funding allocation is structured so that ALL applications submitted before the deadline will be considered.
“These federal funds are a great step toward helping our hardworking fishing community start to recover from the terrible financial losses the pandemic has caused their businesses and their families,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards. “We will continue working with our federal partners to bring more funding to our fishing community now going through two years of economic hardships.”
LDWF is aware that Hurricane Laura may have adversely impacted many individuals wishing to apply for this program. LDWF will continually assess the application process and make adjustments as necessary.
The funds will be distributed as direct aid payments by the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission to those applicants who qualify. 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.
“These funds will help to alleviate some of the financial impacts felt by so many in Louisiana’s fishing community as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said LDWF Secretary Jack Montoucet. “While the funds are not a cure-all, we are grateful for the relief they will provide.”
The CARES Act and NOAA Fisheries have established that to be eligible, participants:
- Must be a “Fishery Participant” – This includes tribes, 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 who have either entered or exited the fishery prior to or after COVID-19, while also taking into consideration the impacts of the 2019 flood disaster.
Payments will be issued in a two-phase process that will include an initial minimum payment followed by a second payment, the amount of which will be determined by the funds remaining after all applications have been processed. LDWF will withhold a percentage of funding from each sector to ensure funding is available for every eligible applicant.
Over the past several months, LDWF Fisheries staff gathered input from members of the fishing industry and worked with Louisiana Sea Grant (LSG) to develop criteria for the delivery of the CARES funds. The funds are part of a larger national federal funding package that included $300 million to assist all states’ fishing industries affected by the pandemic.
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries is charged with managing and protecting Louisiana’s abundant natural resources. LDWF receives no state general funding and depends on license sales as a major funding source. Help us protect your hunting and fishing heritage while preserving habitat, wildlife, and aquatic resources by purchasing your license at www.wlf.la.gov. To receive email or text alerts signup here.
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