Congressmen push for fishing industry disaster relief

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In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, the fishing resources of New Jersey and New York were declared to be disaster areas, but three New Jersey congressmen say that doesn’t go far enough to help local fishing businesses which were severely damaged or destroyed.

Congressman Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02), Congressman Jon Runyan (NJ-03), and Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-04) recently sent a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies to request funding specifically for fisheries to be included in the Hurricane Sandy supplemental appropriations bill. If these areas are not included, they would not be eligible for disaster relief.

“New Jersey’s fishing industry is one of the drivers of our regional economy and a staple in coastal communities,” the congressmen wrote. “The fishing industry impacts a wide swath of New Jersey’s economy and includes not only fishermen, but processors, boat builders, bait and tackle shops, marinas, distributors, and tourism thanks to New Jersey’s vast charter boat operations.”

In November, LoBiondo, Runyan and Smith sent a letter to President Barack Obama requesting the New Jersey fishing industry be declared a disaster area.

“We would also like to make you aware that the President did not include funding in his disaster supplemental request to Congress for fisheries disaster relief,” the congressmen wrote. “While this funding would be in addition to the President’s request, it is no less important to New Jersey’s recovery.”

The congressmen described a scene familiar to many along the Jersey shore, and especially in Brigantine: “…dozens of large boats piled up in what was left of mangled recreational marinas, causing tremendous damage to infrastructure.”

According to the letter, the state’s fishing industry included more than 40,000 jobs in 2011, brought in 175 million pounds of seafood, and generated more than $1.3 billion in revenue.

The letter requested relief funding for both the commercial and recreational fishing sectors.

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