A Message from Commissioner Keliher Regarding USDA's Announcement of Trade Relief Program for US Fishermen Impacted by Retaliatory Tariffs

NOTE: Goosefish was left off the list of eligible species when this notice was originally published on September 11th, but it has been added below.

(September 11, 2020) Dear DMR License Holder:

Earlier this week, I learned that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency is soon launching a program to provide approximately $530 million to support the U.S. seafood industry and fishermen impacted by retaliatory tariffs from foreign governments.

I've been in contact with USDAs Farm Service Agency in Maine and have committed to helping to communicate this important opportunity to all potentially eligible Maine fishermen.

The application period opens on Monday, September 14th, so this information is provided to aid you in getting your application in as quickly as possible. This is a nationwide program, with many eligible species. Payments are based on an individuals 2019 landings of eligible species, multiplied by the value that has been assigned to each eligible species. The value for each eligible species landed in Maine is as follows:

Flounder - 15 cents/lb.

Goosefish- 10 cents/lb.

Herring 4 cents/lb.

Lobster 50 cents/lb.

Pollock 1 cent/lb.

Sole 15 cents/lb.

Squid - 20 cents/lb.

Tuna 13 cents/lb.

Salmon (aquaculture) 16 cents/lb.

To be eligible to apply, you must have a valid federal or state license or permit to catch one or more of these species, and that catch must be sold through a legally permitted or licensed seafood dealer. Our current understanding is that product that is not sold through a dealer is not eligible for submission.

To apply, you will need to self-certify your 2019 landings information on the application. Due to the confidentiality laws, DMR cannot provide personal information over the phone as we have no way to verify who is making the request. These requests would need to be made in writing and verified by a notary. I understand that calls have already been made to the landings program, but it is not feasible for us to deal with hundreds of these requests. If you do not have your 2019 landings the quickest way to get this information is to contact your dealer(s).

Payments will not need to be repaid and there is no cost to apply however the payment will be considered taxable income. There is a payment limitation of $250,000 per person or entity for all seafood combined.

Again, the application period will open on Monday, September 14 and remain open until December 14, 2020.

Additional information on the program as well as the application form is available at www.farmers.gov/seafood. For assistance, contact your local USDA FSA Service Center. Location information for Maine FSAs is attached to this notice. If you need in-person assistance, please call the Center nearest you to make arrangements for an appointment. They cannot accept walk in visits at this time.

I know this has been a stressful summer, so I am glad to be able to share some potentially good news for many members of the Maine fishing community.

As always, stay safe