NEW YORK (WWTI) — Federal funding has been made available for fisheries on the Great Lakes that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was announced by New York Governor Hochul on February 28, confirming the availability of $2 million through the New York Great lakes Fisheries Relief Program, which is provided through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

According to Governor Hochul, this funding will assist New York’s Great lakes fishing industry following economic losses during the pandemic. Eligible businesses can begin applying for funding on March 1.

“The COVID-19 pandemic impacted industries and businesses across the State, including New York’s Great Lakes fisheries,” Governor Hochul said in a press release. “Great Lakes fisheries are vital economic drivers in hundreds of communities across Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. The critical funding announced today will help sustain this industry and this fishery for generations to come and will provide the necessary support allowing it to thrive.”

Eligible fishery sectors include commercial harvesters and for-hire fishing operations based in the New York waters of Lake Erie or Lake Ontario, including the Upper and Lower Niagara River and the St. Lawrence River. Eligible New Yorkers must have participated in these fishing industries in 2020, and the previous five years.

Ineligible businesses include fish processors and dealers, bait and tackle shops, vessel repair businesses, boatyards, restaurants and seafood retailers. However, appeals will be considered by the DEC.

Applicants for the funding must demonstrate a greater than 35% revenue loss from fishery-related revenue from March 1 through December 31, 2020, or January 1 through December 31, 2021. If losses are claimed for both 2020 and 2021, applicants will be required to file two applicants.

Applications will be accepted from March 1 through April 15, 2022, on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s website.

Aid will be made available to participants following approval of their application. Funds will be released to participants by August 2023.