KETCHIKAN (KDN) — A fix in the federal CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program rules for commercial fishing businesses was announced earlier this week, but interested fishermen must apply for PPP funds next Tuesday, according to Alaska’s congressional delegation.

The rule change announced earlier this week by the U.S. Department of Treasury and Small Business Administration allows commercial fishing businesses to account for crew member payroll when applying for PPP loans.

“Fishing crew members are generally considered self-employed independent contractors by the Internal Revenue Service,” according to a delegation announcement. “Even though these crew members are functionally employees, the previous rules did not allow commercial fishing businesses to account for their employee’s wages when calculating payroll costs when applying for a PPP loan. This led to reduced loan amounts.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski said in a prepared statement that she thanks the Treasury Department for working with the delegation to ensure that fishermen now have the same opportunity as many other American businesses to participate in the Paycheck Protection Program.

“Enabling fishermen to secure the resources they need through PPP is not only fair, it means that these businesses so critical to Alaska have a fighting chance to stay afloat,” Murkowski said.

Alaska Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, said his office will continue to work with lenders and the delegation toward extending the June 30 application deadline for fishing businesses that just became eligible to participate under the new rule.

“Many folks are currently out on the fishing grounds and will not be able to apply for this relief,” Stedman said in a prepared statement. “My office will work with the congressional delegation to seek an extension.”

Further information about applying for PPP loans is available on the Small Business Administration website.