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Great Lakes Fisheries Relief Program

COVID-19 Relief for New York State's Great Lakes For-Hire and Commercial Fishing Industries

The Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 116-260) was signed into law on December 27, 2020, to "prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally." Division M of the Consolidated Appropriations Act (Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021) authorized $300 million in fisheries assistance funding, which supports activities previously supported under Section 12005 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

On June 19, 2021, NOAA Fisheries announced the allocation of an additional $15 million in fisheries assistance funding to Great Lakes states with coastal fisheries participants. The New York Great Lakes Fisheries Relief Program Spend Plan (PDF) establishes a framework for distributing $1.97 million in federal Consolidated Appropriations Act (CARES Act II) fisheries aid to for-hire (charter) and commercial fishing businesses in operation on New York's Great Lakes waters. DEC will work cooperatively with NOAA Fisheries and the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission (GLFC) to distribute this funding once applications for direct payments are received and approved.


To be eligible for relief funding, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • A resident of New York State
  • 18 years or older at time of application (awards may not be made to minors)
  • An active participant in one of the following fishery related sectors in 2020 and/or 2021 and previous years with documented fishing history as required under the Spend Plan:
    • A licensed commercial fisherman operating in the New York waters of Lake Erie or Lake Ontario, including the Upper and Lower Niagara River and the St. Lawrence River, OR
    • A for-hire (charter) fishing business in operation in the New York waters of Lake Erie or Lake Ontario, including the Upper and Lower Niagara River and the St. Lawrence River.
    • Businesses ineligible for CARES Act II fisheries relief funding include fish processors/dealers, bait and tackle shops, vessel repair businesses, boat yards, restaurants, and seafood retailers.
  • Demonstrate a loss in revenue greater than 35% from commercial or for-hire fishing operations caused directly or indirectly by the COVID-19 pandemic, during the period 1 March - 31 December 2020 and/or 1 January - 31 December 2021, for at least 30 consecutive days, relative to the average income generated over the same time period for the previous five years (2015-2019).
    • Businesses must have been in operation for two of the three years immediately prior to 2020 (2017-2019) to be eligible to apply.
    • Businesses operating for the first time in 2019 will not qualify.
  • Only one period of revenue loss of a minimum of 30 consecutive days may be claimed per year.
  • If the applicant suffered losses in both 2020 and 2021, application must be submitted twice, once for each year.
  • As required by NOAA fisheries, all funds allocated to New York State may be the subject of a federal audit and are taxable.

How To Apply

  1. Review all eligibility criteria above and in the Spend Plan (PDF).
  2. Complete the Application (PDF). Document may be signed electronically.
    Note: The application period runs from March 1 through April 15, 2022 -- more details on the application and review periods can be found in the timeline below.
  3. Submit the completed and signed application in one of two ways:
    • By email to:, OR
    • By mail to:
      NYSDEC Great Lakes Section
      Fisheries Relief Program
      PO Box 292
      Cape Vincent, NY 13618


  • March 1, 2022 - Application period opens for 45 days. NYSDEC will mail application materials to eligible commercial fishing permit holders and post a digital application online (see above) for eligible for-hire fishing businesses. Interested parties may review the materials and submit the application and supporting materials as specified above in the eligibility criteria section. Incomplete applications will be returned with identification of missing information and will be permitted to be resubmitted for review for up to five days after the closure of the application period. No resubmitted applications will be accepted after this five day grace period.
  • April 15, 2022 - Application period closes. Applications received after this published, 45-day period will not be reviewed or considered.
  • April 18, 2022 - Application review begins.
  • May 18, 2022 - Application review ends. NYSDEC will notify applicants of review results within two weeks.
  • June 1, 2022 - Appeal period begins. Applicants that disagree with a determination may appeal the process up to 15 calendar days after the date the preliminary review period closes. Appeals postmarked or time stamped after this deadline will not be considered. NYSDEC will respond to appeals within 15 calendar days after the appeal is received.
  • August 1, 2022 - NYSDEC will send the list of applicants eligible for relief funds, payment schedule, and related information to the GLFC.
  • August 16, 2022 - After approximately 15 days from receipt of the payment schedule and related information, the GLFC will complete direct payments to qualifying applicants.

Applicants must attest that they have supporting documentation qualifying them for the program and retain that documentation for no less than three years after the close of the primary grant award for future auditing purposes.

Contact Information

For more information or assistance with the application process, email or call (315) 654-2147.

  • PDF Help
  • For help with PDFs on this page, please call 315-654-2147.
  • Contact for this Page
  • Division of Fish and Wildlife
    Lake Ontario Fisheries Unit
    541 East Broadway
    P.O. Box 292
    Cape Vincent, NY 13618
    Send us an email
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