The CNMI CARES-Act Fisheries Working Group, composed of members from the Division of Fish & Wildlife, the Department of Lands and Natural Resources (DLNR), and the Office of Grants Management & State Clearinghouse (OGM-SC) under the Office of the Governor, is pleased to announce that a second round of relief assistance will be made available to the general fishing communities of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. A total of $411,002 was awarded to the CNMI from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The funding will support activities previously authorized under Sec. 12005 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). This funding was allocated to states and territories with coastal and marine fishery participants who have been negatively affected by COVID-19.
Governor Ralph DLG. Torres expressed his appreciation to the DFW, DLNR, and OGM-SC staff for putting together the Fisheries Relief Spend Plan Round 2. OGM-SC will implement the administrative handling, compilation, and review of the documents that will be sent to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) in Portland, Oregon.
Governor Torres added, “I understand that OGM-SC is extremely busy, especially with the handling of rental assistance and numerous federal projects, but they are very familiar with the fisheries process, and this is why I asked them to come on board again. I do not envision returning federal funds especially when our fishing community needs this money.”
Administrator for the Office of Grants Management & State Clearinghouse, Epiphanio E. Cabrera, Jr. stated, “I received notice from PSMFC a few days ago approving the CNMI’s Fisheries Relief Spend Plan-Round 2 and as a result, we had our staff work on the revisions of the applications and needed forms to comply with the approved dates.”
OGM-SC began making copies of the application last Friday, which are individually serialized and not intended for reduplication, and should be ready for disbursement by May 18, 2022 at 9 a.m. at the Chalan Kanoa Office.
According to Administrator Cabrera, “OGM-SC has taken the necessary steps to reduce errors confronted with Round 1 applications so that the process in Round 2 will become more seamless and smoother for the commission to process payment.”
DLNR Secretary Anthony T. Benavente is pleased that there is a second round of relief assistance, especially as businesses involved in the fishing industry have been impacted with COVID-19 in the past years.
“Last October 2021, about 1150 individuals and businesses collectively, received financial assistance from the CARES Act Fisheries Round 1 funding. This time around, although the funding available is significantly lower, it is still notable assistance to those fishermen or business entities impacted by COVID-19,” Secretary Benavente added.
Applications will be made available beginning May 18, 2022 at the Office of Grants Management & State Clearinghouse (Commonwealth COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance) office located in Chalan Kanoa, Saipan and at the Tinian and Rota Mayor Offices. The deadline for application submission is on June 16, 2022 at 4:30 p.m. Saipan applications will only be accepted at the Office of Grants Management & State Clearinghouse (Commonwealth COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance) located at the former PENA House Boutique or Bank of Saipan Building in Chalan Kanoa. OGM-SC’s phone number is (670) 235-4211. The Tinian Mayor’s Office will accept completed applications on Tinian, while DLNR-Rota will receive completed applications on Rota.
Lastly, according to OGM-SC Administrator Cabrera, “the Spend Plan for Round 2 proposes checks to be issued from the Commission in Oregon 90 days after the submission of CNMI participant documents. So, please be patient and submit your applications completely and legibly.”