Tri-county crab fishermen impacted by the four-month fishery closure can apply for low-interest federal disaster loans, the U.S. Small Business Administration announced on Feb. 12.
The SBA is offering working capital loans of up to $2 million with a 4 percent interest rate for small businesses and 2.625 percent for nonprofits with terms up to 30 years.
“SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact,” said Tanya Garfield, director of SBA’s Disaster Field Operations Center – West. “These loans can provide vital economic assistance to fishing and fishing-dependent businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing.”
Gov. Jerry Brown asked the federal government to give financial aid to those impacted by the fishery closure in a letter issued on Feb. 5. Officials have found high levels of domoic acid in crab found off of the California, Oregon and Washington coasts. The neurotoxin stems from an algal bloom spawned in warmer waters.
Rock and Dungeness crab seasons have been closed since Nov. 6, 2015. Rock crab season is year-round while Dungeness was supposed to open on Nov. 15.
The California Department of Public Health partially lifted the ban on Dec. 31, saying that all crab caught on the mainland south of Piedras Blancas Light Station in northern San Luis Obispo County was safe to eat.
But most of Santa Barbara County’s around $2 million rock crab industry comes from shellfish harvested around the San Miguel, Santa Rosa and Santa Cruz islands, which remain closed.
• Contact Alex Kacik at [email protected]