November 16, 2012

Schumer, Gillibrand, Bishop Announce Federal Disaster Declaration for New York’s Fishing Industry

Lawmakers Vow to Push for Federal Emergency Financial Relief to Help Long Island Fishermen Rebuild

New York – U.S. Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Tim Bishop today announced a federal disaster declaration for New York’s fishing industry in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The declaration allows Congress to appropriate federal relief funds to help fishermen hit hardest by the storm and authorizes the Small Business Administration to issue disaster loans.

“The economic impact of Superstorm Sandy on Long Island’s fishing industry is severe with the storm destroying many of New York’s coastal communities,” said Senator Schumer. “This declaration is a good step down the road to recovery for commercial and recreational fishermen in the aftermath of the storm.”

“New York’s coastal communities were ravaged by the storm, which destroyed the fishing industry’s infrastructure and resources and left many Long Island fishermen in dire straits,” said Senator Gillibrand. “This declaration is a first step towards helping our local fishermen and their families recover and rebuild.”

“Long Island's fishing industry was struggling even before Hurricane Sandy dealt a devastating blow to the Montauk and Shinnecock fleets,” said Congressman Tim Bishop. "With the way clear for direct aid as a result of this fishery resource disaster, I will lead the fight in the House of Representatives for funding sufficient to ensure the recovery of the Long Island fishery and the families that rely on it.”

If money is appropriated, Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will work closely with members of Congress and the governors of impacted states to develop financial assistance plans to help coastal communities and the fishing industry.

Although the extent of the damage to local commercial and recreational fisheries and coastal infrastructure is not yet known, the cascading economic and social impacts of a storm of this magnitude will likely be extensive. In 2010 alone, New Jersey and New York commercial fisheries landed almost 190 million pounds of fish, valued at more than $210 million dollars. In the same year, New Jersey and New York recreational fishermen took more than 10 million trips and caught a total of nearly five million fish.

In September, lawmakers urged Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank to issue a federal groundfish fishery disaster for New York’s fishing communities. The lawmakers requested emergency relief after a recent preliminary report projected significant cuts—up to 70 percent— in catch limits for New England groundfish stocks in 2013. These cuts to multispecies fishery, such as cod and yellowtail flounder, would harm Long Island’s businesses and fishermen, who are already struggling and being squeezed by catch limits and tighter regulations.