Gov. Roy Cooper has secured $7.7 million in federal fisheries disaster assistance, part of a $65 million appropriation by Congress for fishery disasters nationwide in 2019, his office announced Friday afternoon.
State fisheries experts will work with federal fisheries authorities to create a spending plan for the $7.7 million once more details on the timing of the grant funds is finalized by the federal government.
When Hurricane Florence hit in September 2018, the storm poured 3 feet of rain on Eastern North Carolina over a four-day period, causing widespread flooding that disrupted fishing and destroyed boats, gear, and buildings critical to fishing businesses.
The 2019 Hurricane Florence Fisheries Damage Assessment report states that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries estimated $38 million in damages to vessels and business and $56.5 million in lost revenues.
“Protecting our fisheries is a priority for North Carolina, and these funds will help the industry recover from increasingly devastating storms,” said Cooper. “We know we must rebuild smarter and stronger and these funds will help our fisheries do that.”
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.
When his administration sought and won a federal disaster declaration for the state’s marine fishing industry in December 2018, that began the process for the federal disaster assistance announced Friday. The declaration of disaster was a necessary step for Congress to appropriate the fishery disaster assistance.