Agriculture Dept. extends deadline for fish farmers to apply for economic aid
The Puerto Rico Agriculture Department has extended the deadline for thousands of fishermen to complete the online application and benefit from incentives approved by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for recovery funds as a result of the pandemic, agency Secretary-designate Ramón González said.
“Understanding the problems that fishermen have had to access the online application for recovery funds, we’ve decided to extend the deadline until Jan. 19 and allow more time for them to provide all the documentation requested by the federal agency,” González said.
“No duly certified fisherman should be excluded from applying, it’s an aid that’s aimed at the sector, and can somehow compensate for the economic situations they have faced in the past months,” said González.
González also said that each director of the agency’s Regional Agricultural Offices will delegate to their field agronomists the job of identifying and contacting all the island’s fishing villages to provide assistance to fishermen, providing the application and affidavit in printed form for those who do not have computers or access to the internet.
The representatives may also visit the villages to provide in-person assistance, he said.
“I’ve held several meetings with the Department’s staff to implement a work plan to streamline the process, since one of the sectors most affected during the COVID-19 pandemic has been precisely the fishermen, who have been unable to sell their products, which has resulted in a significant negative economic impact,” González said.
The agency’s staff will visit the fishing villages and meet with the heads of the Fishermen’s Federation and the Puerto Rico Fishermen’s Congress.
Fisheries participants who may be eligible for the financial incentive include certified fishermen, commercial fishing businesses, charter fishing businesses, qualified aquaculture operations, processors, and other fisheries-related businesses, such as sea bait and marine equipment providers.