Rep. Pallone Urges the Department of Commerce to Declare a Federal Fishery Resource Disaster in New Jersey

Nov 13, 2012 Issues: Fisheries, Hurricane Sandy

WASHINGTON DC – Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) today sent a letter to Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank urging that the Department declare a federal fishery resource disaster in New Jersey so local fishermen and businesses may receive much-needed federal assistance. Hurricane Sandy devastated much of coastal New Jersey and severely impacted the state’s fishing industry and the infrastructure that supports it.

New Jersey’s commercial and recreational fishing industries are vitally important to the state’s economy. According to the Department of Commerce’s National Marine Fishery Service, the New Jersey seafood industry supported almost $6 million in sales and approximately 38,000 jobs in 2009, and the recreational fishing sector supported $1.4 million in sales and more than 8,500 jobs. The fishing industry also helps grow the state’s largest industry—tourism.

“Hurricane Sandy’s impact on my district and much of New Jersey has been catastrophic,” said Pallone. “Our recreational and commercial fishing industries are feeling the blow, and federal assistance will go a long way to ensuring our fishing industry withstands this momentary setback and remains an economic driver for our state as we recover from Hurricane Sandy.”

In addition to the physical destruction to boats and fishing infrastructure caused by the storm, water quality has been compromised, shellfish harvesting has been suspended and marine debris has increased. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie also submitted a request to the Department of Commerce for such a disaster declaration.

“I join Governor Christie in asking the Department of Commerce to declare a federal fishery resource disaster in New Jersey so we may start the rebuilding process with the necessary resources for New Jersey’s fishing industry to quickly recover and thrive,” added Pallone.

The full text of the letter is below:

 

November 13, 2012

 

The Honorable Rebecca Blank
Acting Secretary of Commerce and Deputy Secretary of Commerce
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20230

Dear Acting Secretary Blank:

            I write to urge that you declare a federal fishery resource disaster for New Jersey.  Governor Christie has submitted a request to the Department of Commerce for such a disaster declaration and I strenuously support his request.  The impact of Hurricane Sandy on New Jersey has been devastating and many families and businesses are struggling to get back on their feet.  Now is the time for the federal government to step in and do all that it can to provide assistance to the fishing industry in New Jersey.

            The importance of New Jersey’s commercial and recreational fishing industries to the state’s economy cannot be over emphasized.  According to the Department of Commerce’s National Marine Fishery Service, the New Jersey seafood industry supported almost $6 million in sales and approximately 38,000 jobs in 2009.  At the same time, the recreational sector supported $1.4 million in sales and more than 8,500 jobs.  The commercial and recreational fishing industries are critical aspects of the state’s economy.  Whether it is the recreational angler, commercial fisherman, fish processor, charter boat captain or local bait and tackle shop they are all contributing to our state’s economic vitality.

In New Jersey, the commercial and recreational fishing industries not only support sales and jobs, but also help grow our state’s largest industry—tourism.  People come from all over the nation to view our marine resources, throw a fishing line in from the surf or join a party boat or charter boat to get out on the ocean to fish.  Yet, the scale of damage created by Hurricane Sandy has had a severe impact on the fishing industry and the infrastructure which supports it.  Furthermore, water quality has been compromised, shellfish harvesting has been suspended and marine debris has increased.

I invite you to visit New Jersey to personally view the damage that Hurricane Sandy has caused for the coastal communities.  As I have traveled the towns along the coast I have seen boats strewn across streets and backyards, bulkheads with severe degradation and offices and warehouses left either destroyed or unfit for operation.  I believe that your experiencing the damage will help you to understand the extent of the immediate need for disaster assistance and further inform your work to help with the recovery.

New Jersey fishermen and those in the related industries have worked hard to support our access to healthy seafood, recreational activity and contributed to many fond memories for people across the country.  It is time for the federal government to do its part and support these men and women following this disaster.  

Therefore, I urge you act to facilitate Governor Christie’s request and declare a federal fishery resource disaster under all applicable authorities.  Please contact me or my staff if there is anything I can do to help facilitate any type of assistance to New Jersey as we work to recover.

Thank you for your consideration of my request.

 

                                                Sincerely,

                                                FRANK PALLONE, JR.

                                                Member of Congress