The Christie Administration requested a federal disaster declaration for New Jersey’s fishing industry, which sustained significant revenue losses and damages to its fleet and infrastructure as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Governor Chris Christie made the request to Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank.
“New Jersey’s commercial and recreational fishing industries are essential to our coastal economy, generating some $2.7 billion in combined economic activity,” said Governor Christie. “The storm resulted in significant losses for the industry, damaging or destroying vessels, ports, facilities, and equipment. It also left coastal areas that the industry needs severely damaged or inaccessible. This declaration will help the fishing industry obtain immediate disaster relief assistance and help it cope during this time of great economic loss and hardship.”
In 2011, New Jersey’s commercial fishing industry landed roughly 175 million pounds of seafood, generating over $1.3 billion in economic activity. Even more impartant, the economic impact of recreational fishing supports approximately 8,500 jobs and $1.4 billion in annual sales.
Governor Christie has seen many of these storm-damaged facilities during his post-storm tours of the coast, including warehouses, vessels, offices, aquaculture facilities and equipment.
“The fishing industry has been hard hit and needs our help,” Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said. “This federal disaster declaration will be the first step in the road to recovery for these industries that are so important to the identity and economy of the Shore.”
A federal fishery disaster declaration would trigger a federal economic transition program to provide immediate disaster relief for impacted aspects of the industry, including commercial fishing operations, charter fishing operators, processors and owners of related fishery infrastructure affected by the disaster. The U.S. Department of Commerce is expected to begin a review of the request, while the Department of Environmental Protection works with the National Marine Fisheries Service to determine impacts and assess damages.