Today at the Belford Seafood Co-op, Congressman Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) announced his plan to introduce the first Superstorm Sandy supplemental emergency aid bill that will assist the fishing industry and coastal communities badly impacted by the storm. Pallone's legislation provides $193 million to fully fund the estimated cost to recover storm affected fisheries.
The funding would support both commercial and recreational fishing industries. Recreational fishing infrastructure such as marinas, tackle and bait stores and public access points for fishing that were impacted by Sandy will be eligible for funds under the bill. Pallone spoke today with commercial fishermen to discuss the damage they suffered and what assistance is needed for a full recovery.
"Fishing is a strong contributor to the economy, providing our nation with fresh seafood and recreational opportunities," said Pallone. "Now, it is our turn to support our fishermen by making a commitment of fisheries disaster assistance that really takes into account the amount of damage they suffered."
The bill is already gaining traction throughout Congress, with fellow New Jersey Congressman John Runyan (NJ-03) and Long Island Congressman Tim Bishop (NY-01), whose districts were also badly damaged by Sandy, joining Pallone as original co-sponsors of the legislation.
"Eastern Long Island's fishing industry was struggling even before Sandy dealt a devastating blow to the Montauk and Shinnecock fleets," said Congressman Tim Bishop. "We know the scope of the fishery resource disaster in the Northeast, and now Congress needs to step up to with funding sufficient to ensure the recovery of the Long Island fishery and the families that rely on it."
"I am pleased to support this legislation which will bring much needed aid to New Jersey fishermen," said Congressman Runyan. "I am disappointed that NOAAs late release of the estimates precluded us from working to include this funding in the sandy package. However, I will continue to fight on behalf of New Jersey fishing communities to ensure they get the disaster aid they need to recover."
Last month, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a report detailing the economic and socio-economic effects of Superstorm Sandy on the fishing industry and fishing-related businesses and infrastructure in New Jersey. The report estimated total uninsured losses of $78 million to $121 million for New Jersey's fishing industry and coastal communities due to Sandy. The impact on the commercial fishing industry, which contributed $2.4 billion to New Jersey's gross state product in 2011, is estimated to be $14 million.
The funding package passed by Congress in the wake of Superstorm Sandy included only $5 million for fisheries disaster assistance, far below the initial $150 million passed by the U.S. Senate.
"The shore is my home, and I know what fishing means to life here. That's why I am introducing this bill as soon as I get back to Washington," added Pallone.