Fishermen will be able to count their crew as part of the payroll of their employees eligible for paycheck protection program loans under a change of federal rule published Thursday which was hotly sought after by fishermen struggling to survive the industry downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fishermen have been affected by poor markets for their products as restaurants, a key outlet for seafood, have been closed or reduced in service. But when the federal stimulus package was first unveiled, many boat captains found they couldn’t include crew members, who are typically paid in catch shares, as part of their costs. eligible salaries.
These PPP loans can be canceled if certain conditions are met, including spending a large portion of the money to retain employees.
“We believe the purpose and intention of the Paycheque Protection Program is to help protect small businesses, including commercial fishing businesses. But as it stands, this is not true and fishing companies and crew members are not able to effectively access the full benefits of PPP, ”wrote Robert Dooley, President of Seafood Harvesters of America, and Leigh Habegger, executive director of the organization, in a letter of May 7 to two US senators to ask for their support for the rule change.
Habegger, in a statement released Thursday, said the PPP was a “vital lifeline”. She hopes eligible fishermen will take advantage of the program before the June 30 deadline for applications.