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COVID-19 Resources for Seafood Producers and Small Businesses

Originally published March 31 2020. Last updated September 18 2020.

Wow, there is a lot of information out there right now. Daily emails to share the ever-evolving list of news, opportunities and assistance programs can be overwhelming, so I created this list of links that may be relevant to marine stakeholders throughout the coming months. This page will be updated regularly as new information is received.

Update 9/18/20: USDA Programs have expanded to provide additional assistance to seafood producers impacted by the pandemic.

Update 8/6/20: FWC has released a draft CARES Act spending plan that will be going to NOAA for review. If you would like more information visit the FWC CARES Act website. *The 30-day application period is planned to open Oct. 2020. If you think you might be eligible for these funds, review the draft spending plan and begin preparing the documentation that will be required.*

Support your local seafood providers

Florida Farm To You: The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services continues to update their list of Florida producers so consumers can get their agricultural products, including seafood, straight from the source! Producers: Let FDACS know what you have available to be included in this list.  Click here.

Buy Local Fish: Just because you can’t eat out, doesn’t mean you can’t eat trout (or grouper, or snapper, or clams…) National Fisherman allows you to support seafood businesses that are modifying the way they get seafood to you! Producers, if your name is not on this list, you can click here to sign-up.

Eat Seafood America! The Seafood Nutrition Partnership has launched this initiative to support the US Seafood industry. Support our fishing communities by eating seafood and enjoy all of the nutritious and delicious perks of seafood consumption! For a list of Florida seafood retail markets, click here.

Various initiatives have been launched in Florida to help sellers and buyers connect. For additional resources for finding local products, click here.

Grants and assistance programs

*Note: the National Sea Grant Law Center provides a clearinghouse of reliable information on SBA, PPP and other CARES Act programs associated with COVID-19 for the fishing, aquaculture, and seafood industries. Check out this site if you need help navigating the assistance programs available.

CARES Act Disaster Relief for Fisheries and Aquaculture: Each state will develop plans consistent with the CARES Act and NOAA’s guidance. In Florida, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will work with Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to distribute allocations to impacted industry members on both the east and west coasts. For specific questions, check out any of these links or email CaresAct2020@myfwc.com 

USDA Coronavirus Food Assistance Program: Farmers directly impacted by COVID-19 may apply soon for direct relief. The  process currently does not include molluscan shellfish or open-systems aquaculture, but you can submit your formal comment to request consideration of additional commodities here. Submit comments before June 22, 2020.

Update September 18, 2020:

U.S. Small Business Association Low-Interest Loan Program: Small business owners in all U.S. states and territories are currently eligible to apply for an SBA low-interest loan to alleviate immediate impacts due to COVID-19. There are multiple programs available through the SBA right now including SBA Disaster Relief and the Paycheck Protection Program. For an overview of the Paycheck Protection Program, click here.

On June 15, SBA began accepting new Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance applications from qualified small businesses and U.S. agricultural businesses. EIDL Advance is designed to provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.

The U.S. Department of Labor has additional resources online to help workers and employers impacted by COVID-19.

Florida Small Business Emergency Bridge Loan Program: This program can provide up to $50,000 in bridge financing with a one year term with 0% interest (note that the rate jumps to 12% on any unpaid balance once the year is up). This website will walk you through the application process and also has additional links to other programs available (SBA disaster loans).

Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Reemployment Assistance Program: This is for individuals and employers who are dealing with lost jobs due to COVID-19.

Online Resource Compilations for Information

National Sea Grant Seafood Information and Resources: The purpose of this page is to provide pertinent and timely information and resources to the US seafood industry – both wild harvest and aquaculture.  This page includes many of the same links that are listed here, but is another good resource for our US Seafood industry.

National Sea Grant Law Center: The National Sea Grant Law Center created this site to serve as a clearinghouse of reliable information on CARES Act programs and other issues associated with COVID-19 for the fishing, aquaculture, and seafood industries.

Resources for Shellfish Growers: The UF/IFAS Online Resource Guide for Florida Shellfish Growers has published these resources to help the shellfish aquaculture industry and others during COVID-19.

Guidance on alternative markets for cultured oysters and clams. There are alternative markets that can be explored by shellfish growers during periods of reduced restaurant capacity.

Florida Sea Grant Overview of Selected Disaster Assistance Programs: This page provides an overview of Selected COVID-19 Disaster Assistance Programs Benefiting Florida Small Businesses including Agriculture, Aquaculture, and Fisheries.

US Aquaculture Industry COVID-19 Resources: The United States Aquaculture Society has compiled a list to help aquaculture businesses find resources related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

National Sea Grant Fisheries Extension Network: This page is dedicated to providing resources to help our fisheries and seafood communities during the COVID-19 event.

Evaluating impact of COVID-19

UF/IFAS Food and Resource Economics Department has developed multiple surveys to evaluate the economic impact of COVID-19 on Florida’s agricultural and marine sectors. Click here for background and links to surveys. Update: Summary of initial survey findings.

Florida Business Damage Assessment Survey: This survey will be used to inform future assistance opportunities and represents a way for businesses to report losses to the state. It also links to the state’s small business emergency bridge loan program information page. This survey gives business owners an opportunity to let the state know how they have been impacted.

Aquaculture Survey: A 15-minute survey developed by Virginia Tech and The Ohio State universities to assess the direct and indirect effects of COVID-19 on US aquaculture gathered input regarding impacts of COVID-19 on US Aquaculture. The results will be shared nationally to assist farms, allied businesses and trade associations in communicating the impacts of COVID-19 to public and private decision makers. Update: Results from Quarter 1 assessment published in May.

Update July 2, 2020: The 2nd Quarter COVID-19 impact survey for aquaculture is now open. Click here to participate.

Relevant news stories

June 2020: COVID-19 will have long term impacts on Florida Farmers.

May 12 2020: Update to CARES Act Fisheries and Aquaculture Assistance Funding, including a summary of allocations by state (Florida to receive $23,636,600) and answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.

May 8 2020: Commerce Secretary announces update on CARES Act Stimulus bill to provide assistance to fisheries:  Interstate marine fisheries commissions, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Virgin Islands will disburse funds to address coronavirus-related losses. Story here.

May 7 2020: Executive Order on promoting American Seafood and Economic Growth.

April 2 2020: NMFS wants fishermen to report how COVID-19 is impacting them. Stakeholders interested in sharing information on the effects of COVID-19 on their businesses can email NMFS.COVID-19@noaa.gov. Story here.

March 26 2020: Congress passes Stimulus bill that includes $300 million for fisheries and aquaculture: Story here.

March 19 2020: Homeland Security recognizes agriculture, including fisheries and aquaculture, as critical industry: Story here.

General COVID-19 Updates and Information

Florida Department of Health: What you need to know about Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Florida

Florida Department of Health COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard: Includes number of cases by county

Center for Disease Control: Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) overview and recommendations for how to protect yourself and others.

Originally published March 31 2020. Updates on April 7, April 16, May 8, June 16, July 2, August 6 and Sept 18 2020.