In recent weeks Maine’s commercial fishing industry has experienced a sudden pause. Bustling fish piers with overflowing parking lots are empty. Fishing vessels waiting to be pulled for spring maintenance sit untouched at their moorings. Businesses along the coastline have ceased operations and closed their doors to protect the safety of their communities. Various organizations are being forced to postpone or cancel events for what was to be a vibrant and fun-filled summer. COVID-19 is leaving its mark on everyone, but here at Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries we remain committed to our mission through collaborative research, education, and management while helping our fishing communities.
The MCCF team is working to understand the many programs available to help fishermen and our coastal communities to make it through this situation. We want to be able to provide assistance to fishermen and industry-related small businesses that are seeking financial assistance to keep them and their families afloat during these challenging times. We’re also working with some area fishermen who volunteered to donate live lobsters for local schoolchildren with our “Lobsters for Lunch” program. A few of the area schools will benefit from this opportunity over the coming weeks.
Helpful Links and Resources
The resources below are to help guide fishermen, their crew, and industry-related businesses seeking financial relief and guidance for legally selling seafood directly to consumers. Please remember, this is a rapidly changing pandemic, so some content is subject to change in the coming days and weeks after being published. We understand the amount of information being shared online is overwhelming. For an in-depth understanding of the financial assistance opportunities available to you and your business, you can visit Congressman Jared Golden’s COVID-19 website. You can also contact Conressman Golden’s office Small Business Relief Team with any questions via email at SmallBizResponseTeam@mail.house.gov.
The CARES Act expands the time and level of compensation for unemployment. It also will allow self-employed, part time, gig workers, and independent contractors (1099 workers) to file for unemployment – a federal payment of $600 per person to supplement their state unemployment and expires with a July end date. You must be laid-off due to Coronavirus to collect.
Beginning April 6, those seeking to file an unemployment claim by dialing the Department of Labor at 800.593.7660 should call on the day of the week designated by the first letter of their last name.
- A-H on Mondays
- I-Q on Tuesdays
- R-Z on Wednesdays
- Thursdays and Fridays will be left unassigned for those who miss their alphabetical day or need to call at that time.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) is a program for self-employed individuals INCLUDING fishermen, harvesters, and aquaculture farmers. DOL will begin accepting applications beginning Friday, May 1. The photo (right) provides helpful tips and what type of documentation to have available when you the application process opens. For information about applying for PUA click here or visit the Maine Department of Labor website.
This helpful chart explains the different unemployment programs with benefits and dates.
Small Business Assistance
For immediate assistance, we recommend you contact your lender or local bank for guidance. Please note that the bank you chose to work with MUST be an SBA approved bank. To learn more about the options available to you, please visit the following links below.
Payroll Protection Program: Funds for the PPP will be made available, Monday, April 27 at 10:30 am (EST). The PPP provides small businesses with funds to pay up to 8 weeks of payroll costs including benefits. Funds can also be used to pay interest on mortgages, rent, and utilities. Fishermen will have access to these funds and are encouraged to apply as soon as funding becomes available – contact your bank/lender as soon as possible to apply.
Apply here for a state permit to sell directly to consumers.
Apply here for a federal permit to sell directly to consumers (applies to federally fished waters).
A helpful infographic for shellfish harvesters who want to learn more about direct sales.
Review state shellfish regulations here.
If you are unsure about a rule or regulation contact your local marine patrol.
Here are two resources to purchase fresh seafood from Maine fishermen. Don’t forget to check your favorite seafood restaurant for take-out options.
Together, we will get through this
The COVID-19 crisis is greatly affecting Maine’s commercial fishing industry. Together we can help to support this resilient industry. If you want to know more about MCCF and our work please visit our website and consider making a gift of support NOW to continue our mission and provide valuable resources to Maine’s fishing communities. You can support these important efforts by donating today.
If we can provide further guidance or assistance, we are ready to help and can be reached at 207.367.2708. Someone will direct you to the appropriate staff member to speak with about your concerns or any questions you may have. You can also connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the latest updates and other helpful resources as they become available. Please, do not hesitate to reach out. Our entire team is here to support you during these challenging times. Together we will get through this and continue our mission to fish forever.