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Program overview and eligibility

In August 2020, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) implemented the Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant Program to support Canada’s self-employed fish harvesters who are economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but who were not eligible for other existing federal measures.

Fish Harvester Benefit

The Fish Harvester Benefit offers income support to self-employed fish harvesters and sharepersons (those who receive a share of landed value, non-wage earning crew) who suffered self-employed fishing income loss in 2020 compare to 2018 or 2019, as reported to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

Payments are:

Fish Harvester Grant

The Fish Harvester Grant supports vessel operators/owners with business expenses during the 2020 fishing year. It provides a grant to self-employed fish harvesters with a history of catch (in 2018 or 2019) and a valid fishing licence for 2020.

Payments are:

Self-employed harvester historical income requirement

The benefit and grant payments are based on historical participation as a self-employed commercial fish harvester. The benefit and the grant are income-based, so previous income as a self-employed commercial fish harvester as reported to CRA is required to calculate payment amounts.

For the benefit, using historic self-employed fish harvester income allows for the calculation of income losses in 2020 compared to previous years.

For the grant, using historic income provided a means to issue grant money during the 2020 fishing season as opposed to waiting until 2021 when actual business costs were determined.

Eligibility

Benefit

Benefit

To receive the benefit, eligible fish harvesters and sharepersons must have:

  • experienced self-employed fishing income declines greater than 25% in 2020, compared with their best year of 2018 or 2019, as reported to the CRA
  • a minimum of $2,500 in reported self-employed fishing income to the CRA in either 2018 or 2019

Eligible applicants:

  • self-employed commercial fish harvesters. For example:
    • owner-operators
    • enterprise heads
    • inshore licence holders
  • those who held limited entry commercial licence eligibility (Pacific)
  • self-employed freshwater fish harvesters
  • Indigenous harvesters who were designated by their community under a communal commercial fishing licence
  • sharepersons crew
  • Indigenous harvesters who are crew members, who earn a share of the revenue

Ineligible applicants:

  • commercial fish harvesters in the offshore sector
  • recreational fish harvesters, including sports fishing enterprises
  • individuals and companies within the aquaculture sector
  • individuals and companies within the processing sector
  • wage-earning crew
  • anyone who applied for or received Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) to support their own wage
Grant

Grant

To receive the grant, eligible applicants must:

  • have had self-employed income from commercial fishing activity in 2018 or 2019 of at least $5,000
  • have had:
    • a valid DFO issued commercial fishing licence for 2020
    • a valid provincial or territorial issued commercial fishing licence for 2020
  • a Unique Identifier issued by DFO to vessel master identified by an Indigenous communal commercial fishing enterprise
  • have landings against this commercial fishing licence for 2018 or 2019

There was no requirement to engage in fishing activity in 2020 to receive the grant.

Eligible applicants:

  • self-employed commercial fish harvesters. For example:
    • owner-operators
    • enterprise heads
    • inshore licence holders
  • those who held limited entry commercial licence eligibility (Pacific)
  • freshwater fish harvesters (subject to provincial agreement to provide licensing information)
  • Indigenous harvesters who were designated as Vessel Masters by their community under a communal commercial fishing licence

Ineligible applicants:

  • crew (wage-earning and sharepersons)
  • commercial fish harvesters in the offshore sector
  • recreational fish harvesters, including sports fishing enterprises
  • individuals and companies within the aquaculture sector
  • individuals and companies within the processing sector
  • anyone who applied for or received the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) or equivalent measures
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