Vessel Upgrade Grant


VUG Robert Mayer COMPThe Vessel Upgrade Grant Program provides financial assistance to BBEDC CDQ and Bristol Bay Watershed resident fishers for repairs and improvements to fishing vessels and setnet fishing equipment to improve fish quality and harvesting efficiency.  Grants of up to $17,500 for set gillnet operations and up to $35,000 for drifts boat operations can be used for deck and fish hold upgrades, engines and engine repairs, RSW systems, electronics and other gear and improvements that improve fish quality and fishing efficiency.  Grants can also be combined with certain commercial fishing loans and include an In-Season Emergency Provision. Promoting chilling at the point of harvest by insulating fish holds and other modifications to enhance chilling and seafood quality, is a priority of this program.

Vessel Upgrade Grant Applications are accepted until April 7, 2023.  Upgrade work must be completed before December 31 of the year the Vessel Upgrade Grant is awarded.

Items eligible under the program follow the guidelines recognized by the Alaska Division of Economic Development Commercial Fishing Loan Program, which allow for the purchase, installation and repairs of items that are permanently attached to a boat or setnet equipment.  Brailers are included by definition.  Other specifically eligible items include hull and deck repairs and maintenance, insulation, engine replacements and repairs, refrigeration systems, deck gear such as reels, rollers and anchor winches, hydraulics and steering systems, electronics, pumps, bow thrusters, top houses and galley stoves.

Past recipients who previously received a Vessel Upgrade Grant valued at less than the maximum dollar amount currently allowed under the program may apply for the difference between what they received and the maximum allowable grant award to help pay for the cost of future improvements. Past recipients who have not received a Vessel Upgrade Grant in the previous three (3) years, can apply for a new full grant award.

This program is to benefit watershed residents who have a history and commitment to participation in Bristol Bay's salmon fishery and who intend to remain residents of the region. To qualify, Vessel Upgrade Grant applicants must have a current BBEDC Affidavit of Residency on file and proof of active participation in the Bristol Bay salmon fishery for the three previous consecutive salmon seasons.  Following receipt of a 2023 Vessel Upgrade Grant, the applicant must remain a resident of a BBEDC CDQ or watershed community and remain an active participant in the Bristol Bay salmon fishery for the subsequent three consecutive years of 2024, 2025, & 2026 while using the same vessel or setnet equipment contracted through the program, except it may be the subsequent two years if the vessel or setnet equipment is transferred to a watershed resident to actively participate in the commercial salmon fishery.


If you received a Vessel Upgrade Grant or RSW system through the RSW Purchase Program during the years of 2020 – 2022, you must supply the following to the Regional Fisheries Department:

  • Proof of actively participating in the Bristol Bay salmon fishery for the following three consecutive years while using the same vessel or vehicle that received the upgrades.
  • Proof that you have maintained residency within the region each year by completing our Affidavit of Residency.

Failure to supply these documents by October 15th each year may result in an obligation to repay the grant funds received. If you have already submitted the information for the current year, thank you!


Leveraging Vessel Upgrade Grants with State Commercial Fishing Loans

BBEDC Vessel Upgrade Grants may also be used together with certain commercial fishing loans to finance upgrades costing more than the maximum available under the Vessel Upgrade Grant Program.  For more information contact BBEDC.

2023 Vessel Upgrade Grant Application

The In-Season Emergency Provision provides financial assistance to be used for equipment and repairs that are drive train specific and catastrophic in nature to their operation.  Allowing access to the Bristol Bay salmon fishery by servicing an unpredicted, in-season, catastrophic drive train failure is a priority of this provision.  For the purposes of the provision, "in-season" will be defined as May 15-September 30.  The drive train failure must have occurred during this date range to qualify. Failures from previous seasons are not eligible under the policies of this provision. Applicants that have utilized the full amount of the Vessel Upgrade Grants are not eligible for the In-Season Emergency Provision unless they have not received a Vessel Upgrade Grant in the previous three (3) years.  To apply for the provision fill out the application posted below.

2023 In-Season Emergency Provision Application

For complete information on the Vessel Upgrade Grant Program contact the Regional Fisheries Development Office at 907-842-4370 or 1-800-478-4370.