The National Sea Grant Law Center

COVID-19 Resources


  • The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting our personal lives and businesses in unprecedented ways. The U.S. Congress responded by passing the CARES Act, a $2 trillion economic stabilization package, to provide relief to affected individuals and businesses.

    The National Sea Grant Law Center, in partnership with the Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Legal Program, created this webpage 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. This page is updated frequently as questions are received and resources come online.

    The SBA resumed accepting Paycheck Protection Program applications from participating lenders on Monday, April 27, 2020. The SBA resumed accepting applications for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)-COVID-19 related assistance program (including EIDL Advances) from all eligible small businesses on June 15. (See SBA’s Coronavirus page). Information about these programs is available below, and we will continue to update the resources regarding documentation and repayment/forgiveness.

    CARES Act Tip Sheet for Self-Employed Individuals


  • Assistance to Fishery Participants

  • All “Fishery Participants” affected by COVID-19 that suffered (1) a greater than 35% economic revenue loss as compared to prior 5-yr average revenue or (2) a negative impact to subsistence, cultural or ceremonial fisheries are eligible for this program. Fishery Participants are tribes, persons, fishing communities, and aquaculture businesses not eligible for the USDA Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (see more info below), processors or other fishery related businesses. NOAA will administer the $300 million of fund on a rolling basis and within fishing seasons to enable the rapid delivery of funds. The funds will remain available until Sept. 30, 2021.

    Stay tuned for more details for this program.

    Section 12005 of the CARES Act

    Fishery Participant Assistance Quick Take


  • USDA Food Purchases

  • On May 4, 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service announced plans to purchase $470 million of food for distribution to food banks, school lunch programs, and other organizations. $70 million is allocated for purchases of fish as follows: catfish ($30 million); Atlantic haddock, pollock, and redfish ($20 million); Alaska pollock ($20 million). Purchase are made through a standard RFP, or solicitation process, from USDA approved vendors.

    For more information on selling food to USDA: Selling Food to USDA

    Selling Seafood to USDA Quick Take


  • Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP)

  • In April 2020, the USDA launched the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), a direct aid program for farmers who have been economically impacted by COVID. In order to be eligible for CFAP, commodities had to have experienced a decline in price of 5% or more between January 15, 2020 and April 15, 2020. Additionally, aquaculture operations in particular must be privately owned and propagate their products in a controlled environment (e.g., pond, tank, or recirculating system) in order to be covered by the program. After considering data submitted by producers and industry in May and June 2020, the USDA announced in August 2020 that producers of the following types of aquaculture commodities may apply for CFAP assistance: catfish, hybrid striped bass, red drum, salmon, sturgeon, tilapia, trout, ornamental and tropical fish, recreational sportfish, crawfish, and largemouth bass and carp sold live as foodfish.

    The deadline for all CFAP applications has been extended from August 28, 2020 to September 11, 2020, and applications must be submitted to a local branch of the USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA), which is administering the program. The USDA has created a hotline to help CFAP-eligible producers—especially those who have not worked with FSA previously—begin the application process. The hotline’s phone number is (877) 508-8364.

    For more information on CFAP: CFAP Final Rule

    CFAP Quick Take – Eligible Aquaculture Commodities

    Notice of Funding Availability; CFAP Additional Commodities Request for Information

    Revised Notice of Funding Availability


  • Maintenance and Cure

  • Maritime law’s requirement that captains and vessel owners must provide medical care for crew members will apply to sickness caused by COVID-19. The principles for maintenance and cure apply to commercial fishermen, just as they do seafarers on cargo vessels and other commercial ships. A shipowner must pay maintenance and cure for any illness or injury which occurred, was aggravated, or manifested itself while the seaman was in the ship's service. (Stevens v. McGinnis, Inc., 82 F.3d 1353, 1357–58 (6th Cir. 1996)). If the afflicted crew member is unable to obtain the care they need aboard the ship, the operator of the vessel is responsible for the medical expenses incurred by the crew member on shore. (78A C.J.S. Seamen § 164).

    With respect to minimizing their liability for maintenance and cure arising from COVID-19, shipowners and captains may wish to consider performing a quick health check—for example, taking crew members’ temperatures—before allowing them to board any vessels. Additionally, shipowners should closely follow the guidance that was recently issued by the CDC and Coast Guard to ensure the safety and regulatory compliance of their operations for the duration of the pandemic.

COVID-19 Webinars

COVID-19 Webinar Series:
Relief Program Updates

Download COVID-19 Webinar Series: Relief Program Updates


COVID-19 Webinar Series:
Executive Orders and Other Updates

Download COVID-19 Webinar Series: Executive Orders and Other Updates


COVID-19 Webinar Series:
Hot Topics "Grab Bag"

Download COVID-19 Webinar Series: Hot Topics "Grab Bag" Presentation


COVID-19 Webinar Series:
Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness

Download COVID-19 Webinar Series: Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan Forgiveness Presentation


COVID-19 Webinar Series:
Workplace Safety

Download COVID-19 Webinar Series: Workplace Safety Presentation


CARES Act Updates and
COVID-19 Related Legal Issues

Download CARES Act Updates and COVID-19 Related Legal Issues Presentation


CARES Act 101 for Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Seafood Businesses: Part 1

Download CARES Act 101: Part 1 Presentation

Q&A from CARES Act 101: Part 1


CARES Act 101 for Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Seafood Businesses: Part 2

Download CARES Act 101: Part 2 Presentation

Q&A from CARES Act 101: Part 2


CARES Act 101 for Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Seafood Businesses: Part 3

Download CARES Act 101: Part 3 Presentation

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