RALEIGH – U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on Friday granted Gov. Roy Cooper’s request for a disaster declaration related to damage from Hurricane Florence to North Carolina’s fishing industry.
The storm destroyed boats, gear and buildings critical to fishing businesses.
Cooper requested the declaration in a letter dated Nov. 1, saying federal fisheries disaster assistance was needed for long-term recovery after initial relief from state appropriations. The declaration is a critical step for Congress to appropriate fishery disaster assistance, the governor’s office noted Friday.
“Recreational and commercial fishing are important economic drivers for our state and families along North Carolina’s coast. I appreciate Secretary Ross’s recognition of the damage to these vital industries caused by Hurricane Florence. We must rebuild smarter and stronger than ever and I will continue to work with our federal, state and local partners to bring recovery funds to those who need them,” Cooper said in a statement.
In November, the governor requested an additional $6.3 billion in federal aid, including the declaration of disaster for North Carolina’s fisheries and $20 million for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Disaster Assistance. The state’s total federal request is $8.8 billion.
The governor’s office cited state Division of Marine Fisheries figures showing that North Carolina’s commercial fishing industry generated more than $96 million in revenue in 2017.