Albany, NY (November 16, 2012)
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today released the following statement on the U.S. Department of Commerce declaring a fishery resource disaster for New York as a result of the coastal devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. The declaration immediately authorizes the U.S. Small Business Administration to issue disaster loans to impacted fishing businesses and provides a basis for Congress to appropriate disaster funding assistance for coastal communities in the counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Orange and New York City.
“Hurricane Sandy caused widespread destruction to the fishing industry along New York’s heavily-impacted coastline," Governor Cuomo said. “This federal declaration will enable us to rebuild this vital industry which serves as the economic lifeblood to so many of our coastal communities."
The magnitude of the impacts to the fishing industry in New York has not yet been calculated. Preliminary information from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation indicates widespread damage to vessels, docks, dealerships, processing plants, and supporting businesses, as well as the closure of many shell fishing areas.
The federal Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act enables the U.S. Department of Commerce to determine that a commercial fishery failure has occurred and provide economic relief to the fishing industry under a disaster declaration. A failure means an occurrence when those engaged in the fishery suffer severe economic hardship due to a fishery resource disaster.
“Hurricane Sandy had a devastating effect on the infrastructure needed by the fishing industry," said DEC Commissioner Martens. “The long-term impacts will be vast and difficult for the industry to recover from without assistance. Declaring the disaster is the first step in helping to rebuild the vital docks, marinas and other infrastructure that supports the industry."
The fishing industry, including commercial and charter fishing fleets, distributors and processors, the shell fishing community, and fishing infrastructure will now be eligible for federal loans and compensation for damages that would otherwise not be covered by existing insurance policies. Impacts to municipal facilities such as boat ramps, docks, and fishing piers will also be eligible.
Details about the immediately-available Small Business Administration loan program are available at http://www.sba.gov/community/blogs/official-sba-news-and-views/open-business/hurricane-sandy-update-2-sba-standing-read.
The Department of Commerce will also use this declaration to petition the Congress to appropriate additional disaster funds to further aid the fishing community. As the devastation incurred by Hurricane Sandy impacted multiple states, Commerce may waive the twenty-five percent state cost share requirement.