Fishermen urged to avail of federal COVID relief

(Photo courtesy National Park Service)

Registered fishermen can still apply for the Department of Agriculture’s COVID relief disaster program until March 31st.

The Department of Agriculture offered the first part of the Federal Disaster Relief program for fishers earlier last year.

The first part of the program focused on registering local fishers under the Guam Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources to qualify for the program.

These past months, DAWR has been pushing for registered fishers to submit the three forms of applications provided by the Pacific States Marines Fisheries commission to receive compensation.

Over 800 local fishers registered during March and July of last year. However, only an estimated 200 fishers have submitted applications this year.

Registered fishers who do not wish to submit an application are highly encouraged to contact DOAG’S office, as this will help to move the process forward.

Although registration has already closed, DAWR continues to accept applications of registered fishers until March 31st. Application packets are available at the DAWR office and on the DOAG website.

Applications will also be made available at popular fishing sites during weekly outreach, thanks to Veronica Salas, a program coordinator for DAWR.

In an interview with K57’s Tony Lamorena, DOAG Biologist and Project Manager Frank Roberto explained how the registration process helped categorize how fishers will be compensated.

“So that’s what the registration process was for. It was for us to categorize the fishermen as commercial tier 1, tier 2, or subsistence fishermen. Commercial fishers are going to be compensated in full, and the commercial fishermen we distributed the rest of the funds for them. And since subsistence fishermen take up a large chunk of the money, that’s the reason why we distributed the remaining for them,” Roberto said.

A timeline to distribute payment has yet to be established for registered fishers who have submitted complete and correct applications. However, Roberto says that he is actively urging the commission to pay out those who have submitted complete and accurate applications.