Even with 437 applicants already, the Office of Grants Management is still looking for more fishermen to apply for financial aid provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security Act for commercial fishermen and subsistence fishermen in the CNMI.
In an interview with OGA administrator Epiphanio Cabrera Jr., he said he wants all fishermen to apply. “We see a lot of fishermen over the weekend that are still [fishing], who have probably fished in the past, and they probably qualify but we only received about 437 applications, and the deadline for applications is March 1,” said Cabrera.
It was learned that fishermen can receive between $50 to $1,500 per applicant, depending on the allocation of the funding resource. The minimum requirement is for a fisherman to submit the application and sign the affidavit stating that their fishing livelihood has been adversely affected by COVID-19. Both commercial and recreational fishermen are allowed to apply. The fisherman has to be 18 years or older to apply for the grant.
“If you have a fishing rod or you did fish during that time or you use talaya or go diving for fishing and is affected, and you were affected during the pandemic, you can qualify,” said Cabrera. Talaya is a traditional Chamorro fishing method that involves a casting net for fishing.
Cabrera said they are looking to help at least 2,000 fishermen in all but currently only have 437 applicants.
Cabrera assured that even foreign workers—worker under the CNMI-Only Transitional Workers program—can apply for the grant. To qualify, CW workers must be in the fishing industry and are here legally or have a current approved immigration status.
The CNMI was allocated $980,000 for this program.