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Maine is in line to get $20 million to help its fishermen weather the COVID-19 storm, the fifth-highest amount of money out of the 31 states to receive fishing-industry bailout funding.
The award, announced Thursday by Maine’s federal delegates, comes out of the $300 million in federal funding included in the CARES Act to help the U.S. fishing industry survive the economic losses associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
The industry has been reeling because nearly 70 percent of all seafood eaten in the U.S. is consumed in a restaurant, most of which have been forced to close by government-mandated quarantines. At the same time, international sales have dried up overnight as trade and transportation channels have been shut down.
The $20 million is the 5th largest amount given to the 31 states whose fishing industries qualified for aid, according to a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine.
Maine’s most valuable fishery, lobster, isn’t usually hauling during the late winter and early spring, but those who do usually earn the highest prices for their catch during the months of the COVID-19 restaurant shutdowns, according to Maine state data.
The Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association, a Brunswick-based nonprofit that has been helping Maine’s fishermen seek financial relief during the pandemic, has warned that the seafood bailout is unlikely to solve all the challenges facing Maine’s fishing fleet.
According to language in the CARES Act, industry participants can qualify for bailout funding if they can show a 35 percent revenue loss from their five-year average. But questions remain about how current revenue is calculated, especially for those who don’t usually fish in winter.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will be releasing guidelines on the bailout shortly, including more information on eligibility and how funding will be distributed, according to a joint statement from Collins; U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine; and U.S. Reps. Jared Golden and Chellie Pingree, both D-Maine.
Watch: Janet Mills outlines her plan to reopen