NOAA Fisheries is sending this notification to clarify information about loan opportunities through the federal Fisheries Finance Program (FFP) for Gulf of Mexico IFQ participants.
The federal FFP is a direct government loan program that receives an annual loan authority from Congress to provide long-term loans to the commercial fishing and aqua/mariculture industries.
The FFP provides four different types of loans: fishing vessel loans, fisheries processing facilities loans, aquaculture and mariculture facility loans, and federal harvesting privileges loans.
Who is eligible for FFP federal loans?
- U.S. citizens or businesses that are at least 75% U.S.-owned with a good credit history.
What kinds of projects are eligible for FFP loans?
- Vessels, commercial fishing equipment, federal harvesting privileges (IFQ shares and federal fisheries permits), fisheries shore-side facilities, and aquaculture and mariculture operations. The program can also refinance existing debt that originated for the above projects.
Is there a minimum or maximum loan amount?
- No, but the amount of the loan cannot exceed 80% of the total cost of the project.
- Congress authorizes a maximum loan authority of 100 million dollars nationwide for the FFP on an annual basis.
What are the terms of FFP federal loans?
- Long-term, fixed rate loans with interest rates 2% above the U.S. Treasury rate for borrowing similar maturities. Visit the U.S. Department of the Treasury for the most recent rates, add 2% to the published rates or Call the Southeast Financial Services Branch for current rates (727) 824-5377.
- The term of the loan is not to exceed 25 years but is dependent on the applicant’s credit strength and their ability to repay the loan.
- Loans may be prepaid at any time without penalty. These terms are set by Congress.
What are some of the requirements for IFQ loan applicants?
- A 20% equity contribution will be required to be deposited to an escrow account at the time of loan closing, not at the time of application. However, the applicant must be able to demonstrate an ability to provide a 20% equity contribution to the total cost of the project at the time of application.
- The FFP will require all parties with significant ownership interests to personally guarantee loan repayment for any applicant that is a corporation, partnership, or other entity. Some projects may require additional collateral, as determined by the FFP.
- Some examples of acceptable collateral include, but are not limited to, IFQ harvesting privileges (shares), federal fishing permits, vessels, and real estate.
If I am interested in a loan, how do I apply to the program?
- Contact the Southeast Financial Services Branch at (727) 824-5377 to discuss your project. After discussion with Southeast Financial Services Branch, if your project is eligible, follow the guidance in the FFP Application Letter, which FFP will provide through email at the applicant’s request, and submit all forms required in the letter’s application checklist.
- There are no limits to the number of applications you can submit and you can have multiple loans open at the same time.
What are the general steps of the loan application process for IFQ loans?
- The applicant submits the FFP loan application and required supporting documentation to FFP for review.
- If the application is accepted, the loan investigation process will occur and arrive at a credit decision.
- Applicants are not required to have a purchase or sale agreement in place at the time of application, but must have one in place to close the loan. If the credit decision results in a loan approval, the approval is good for 5 years, allowing applicants ample time to find shares to purchase.
- If financing a share purchase, the shares will be held by the FFP administrative account in the Catch Shares online system. The allocation for each fishing year will be automatically transferred to the borrower’s account on January 1, each year. However, all financed shares will be applied towards the borrower’s share cap.
Whom can I contact for questions or help?
- NOAA Fisheries, Southeast Regional Financial Services Division
Maria Starr, Loan Specialist
David Moyer, Chief, Southeast Branch