Cantwell Announces $50 Million in Economic Relief for Washington State Fishermen

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announced today that Washington state will receive $50 million in funding for economic relief for fishermen impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s announcement comes after Cantwell helped secure the funding in negotiations for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  

“Thousands of fishermen around the Pacific Northwest are feeling the impacts of restaurant, fishing, and tourism season closures due to COVID-19 and the loss of seafood sales. Due to the unique nature of fishing businesses, many have been left without federal assistance until now,” Cantwell said. “Having $50 million coming to Washington state fishermen in grants and other direct assistance will provide much-needed money to fishing businesses to keep them a part of our maritime economy.”

Fishermen and fishery-related businesses throughout Washington state have been hit hard by the crisis. Those eligible to receive grants and other forms of direct assistance include commercial fishing businesses, charter/for-hire fishing businesses, shellfish aquaculture operations, processors, other fishery-related businesses, and Tribes that have suffered losses as a result of COVID-19. Washington state and Alaska are the largest recipients of the funding – each will receive $50 million of a total $300 million available, almost twice as much as any other state. Tribes in Washington state will also be eligible to receive funding from the more than $5 million allocated for federally-recognized Tribes on the West Coast.

A full list of recipients is available HERE.

As the top Democrat on the Commerce Committee, which oversees NOAA and marine fisheries in federal waters of the United States, Cantwell has been a leading advocate for fishing communities and sustainable fisheries management. In addition to her work to include funding for fishermen in the CARES Act, Cantwell also recently made sure long-awaited fishery disaster funds were released to Washington state communities and Tribes. Throughout her time in the Senate, Cantwell has helped secure funding for impacted fishing communities and advocated for changes to the disaster declaration process to ensure more Washington state fishermen will be covered in the future. Cantwell has also led the fight to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay, one of the largest salmon fisheries in the world.