Now that the U.S. Secretary of Commerce approved Gov. Roy Cooper’s request for a disaster declaration helping North Carolina’s fishing industry, officials will be surveying local fishers about damages from Hurricane Florence.
Before Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross makes a specific funding request to Congress, state and federal authorities must evaluate damage to fishing gears, vessels and loss of fishing income that occurred as a result of the September storm. NOAA Fisheries representatives will be reaching out to approximately 1500 fishers, for-hire boat captains and others associated with the fishing industry by phone to ask about damages. Patricia Smith, Public Information Officer with the Division of Marine Fisheries said they will assist with the surveys.
“What they’re looking to do is find what they call a representative sample of these folks so they can do a statistical report based on this information that the Secretary of Commerce can then make the recommendation to Congress for funding.”
The last federal fishing disaster determination to be approved for North Carolina was in 1999 when hurricanes Dennis and Floyd caused $19 million in damages to the coastal areas. Congress appropriated nearly $6 million to compensate North Carolina fishers for losses and damaged equipment.