Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has issued a national disaster declaration for commercial fisheries in Texas affected by Hurricane Harvey, responding to a request made by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in February.

“The 2017 hurricane season was catastrophic for communities in Texas and for states along the Gulf of Mexico,” said Ross in a press release. "The Department of Commerce and the president are committed to working closely with Congress and the state of Texas to continue supporting recovery efforts for fishermen and local fishing businesses affected by the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey.”

The designation allows commercial fishermen in the state to receive federal funds and other diaster-related assistance, including FEMA assistance and Economic Development Administration grants. Congress has budgeted $200 million to help relieve 2017 fishery disasters in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.

NOAA and the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department conducted a series on in-person, online and phone surveys soon after Hurricane Harvey hit to appraise damages along the Gulf Coast of Texas.

According to the survey results, 53 percent of businesses reported damage, 23 percent of vessel owners had damage, and those damages were valued at more than $58 million. The hurricane caused an estimated 1,705 immediate job losses and a $36.2 million revenue loss.

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Samuel Hill is the former associate editor for National Fisherman. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine where he got his start in journalism at the campus’ newspaper, the Free Press. He has also written for the Bangor Daily News, the Outline, Motherboard and other publications about technology and culture.

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