New Bill Could Help Fishing Industry Recoup Post-Sandy

Additional funding would go toward recovery of fisheries disaster and plug shortfall in Sandy relief package.

Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr., of New Jersey, recently announced his plan to assist the fishing industry and coastal communities badly impacted as a result of Superstorm Sandy at the Belford Seafood Co-op. Pallone also spoke with commercial fishermen to discuss the damage they suffered.

“Unfortunately, fisheries science and research are already woefully underfunded even though the commercial and recreational fishing industries are critically important contributors to our economy, supporting 54,000 jobs before Sandy," said Pallone Jr. "This is why Congress should have moved forward with a greater amount of fisheries disaster relief funding, which I pushed for. It is greatly unfortunate that efforts to reduce fisheries disaster aid were successful and that now our coastal communities are left to suffer the burden, leaving our state’s economy even further under water."

Last month, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a report detailing the economic and socio-economic effects of Superstorm Sandy on the fishing industry and fishing-related businesses and infrastructure in New Jersey.

The report estimated total uninsured losses of $78 million to $121 million for New Jersey’s fishing industry and coastal communities due to Sandy. The impact on the commercial fishing industry, which contributed $2.4 billion to New Jersey’s gross state product in 2011, is estimated to be $14 million.

The funding package passed by Congress in the wake of Superstorm Sandy included only $5 million for fisheries disaster assistance, far below the initial $150 million passed by the U.S. Senate. Pallone’s bill appropriates $193 million to fully fund the estimated cost to recover storm affected fisheries.