North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper is seeking additional funding to help coastal communities deal with the damages weathered by the state’s fisheries following Hurricane Florence.

In a letter to Secretary Wilbur Ross, Cooper has asked the U.S. Department of Commerce to declare a federal fishery resources disaster.

“This was the storm of a lifetime for many coastal communities. The damaging economic impact to the state’s fisheries was, and continues to be, significant. While state appropriations will begin to afford some limited initial relief, much more is needed,” Cooper wrote in the letter.

According to the state Division of Marine Fisheries, the North Carolina commercial fishing industry generated more than $96 million in revenue in 2017. Declaring a federal fishery resource disaster can assist with long-term relief for commercial fishing families struggling to make a living while repairing their businesses. Hurricane Florence’s historic rainfall and powerful winds destroyed boats, gear and buildings critical to fishing businesses.

“Federal fisheries disaster assistance can provide the means to a longer-term recovery that North Carolinian fishermen so desperately need,” wrote Cooper.

Last month, Cooper recommended that state legislators appropriate $12 million to help state fisheries with disaster recovery. The legislature funded $1.6 million of that request to the Division of Marine Fisheries, which will compensate commercial fishermen and shellfish harvesters for equipment and income loss. By comparison, the Legislature committed $2 million to mosquito abatement and $50 million for agricultural recovery.

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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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