Gov. Cooper secures $7.7 million in federal disaster relief funds for fishing industry

Commercial fishing provides a $25 million annual economic benefit in Dare County. [Coastal Review Online photo]

Governor Roy Cooper has secured $7.7 million in federal fisheries disaster assistance for North Carolina part of a $65 million appropriation by Congress for fishery disasters nationwide in 2019.

Hurricane Florence blew into coastal North Carolina in September 2018, dropping nearly three feet of rain over a four-day period and causing widespread flooding that disrupted fishing and destroyed boats, gear, and buildings critical to fishing businesses.

“Protecting our fisheries is a priority for North Carolina, and these funds will help the industry recover from increasingly devastating storms,” said Governor Cooper. “We know we must rebuild smarter and stronger and these funds will help our fisheries do that.”

In a 2019 Hurricane Florence Fisheries Damage Assessment report, NOAA Fisheries estimated $38 million in damages to vessels and business and $56.5 million in lost revenues. State fisheries experts will be working with federal fisheries authorities to develop a spending plan for the award once more details on the timing of the grant funds is finalized by the federal government.

In response to the storm the state appropriated $11.6 million to the Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Marine Fisheries that was distributed to commercial fishermen and shellfish harvesters to help compensate for income losses from harvest reductions.

Gov. Cooper also sought and won a federal disaster declaration for the state’s marine fishing industry, which began the process for this federal disaster assistance.

This story originally appeared on Read More local stories here.

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