06 Nov We applaud Gov. Cooper’s request for fishery aid
CCA NC applauds Gov. Roy Cooper’s request for federal aid to help fishermen, fisheries businesses and marinas hit by Hurricane Florence, said David Sneed, executive director of the conservation organization.
In a November 1 letter to U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Cooper called Florence “the storm of a lifetime” that created significant economic damage to the state’s fisheries and the coastal communities that depend on them. “While state appropriations will begin to afford some limited initial relief, much more is needed,” he wrote.
Citing the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation Act, the governor asked Secretary Ross to declare a federal fishery resources disaster that would provide funds for “a longer-term recovery that North Carolina fishermen so desperately need.”
Cooper estimated there are about 6,000 commercial fishermen and over one million recreational anglers who depend on the state’s marine resources. The legislature has given the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries $1.6 Million to compensate commercial fishermen and shellfish harvesters to compensate them for equipment and income loss.
“We are excited to hear that Gov. Cooper has not forgotten about the important economic role our state’s fisheries play in North Carolina,” Sneed said. “Governor Cooper came into office with a very powerful marine fisheries policy commitment to conservation, but we have not heard much since his election.”
Marine fisheries contribute heavily to the economies of coastal communities, he continued. Recreational fishing generates $1.6 Billion of economic impact to North Carolina while commercial fishing comes in at $400 Million. The newest Marine Recreational Information Program data increases recreational impact by about three times, making it worth $5 billion, Sneed added.
CCA NC thanks the governor for valuing all of the stakeholders in our state’s fisheries. “We hope this request includes some help for our coastal restaurants, motels, tackle shops, marinas and fishing guides, as well as commercial fishermen,” Sneed said.
Capt. Jake Jordan of Jake Jordan’s Fishing Adventures in Havelock said, “The sport fishing industry is one of the hardest hit, in that not only did we have losses from the hurricane and flood, along with the many days lost to bad weather, but many of our clients inland from the coast were flooded and are also trying to recover and cannot afford to come to the coast to fish with the guides. Many of these captains, guides and mates depend on this fall season for a big portion of their annual income,” Jordan said.
“It’s important that the governor has recognized the devastating impact these storms have had on our fishing communities,” said Bert Owens, CCA NC president, “but we do not need to lose sight of the real opportunity we have to grow our total fishing economy by improving management.” CCA NC supported the NC Sound Economy economic study that showed reversing the declining trends in our state managed fish stocks would provide an even greater economic impact to the state’s coastal economy.
If all eight of the species looked at in the study are managed for conservation, the state could gain a 30-year economic benefit of $829.7 Million dollars on $4.2 Billion in total sales that create 1,493 additional jobs worth $1.6 Billion in labor income. This is in addition to the current level of fisheries related economic benefits.
“This effort by Gov. Cooper to bring to the forefront the important role our fishing economy plays in North Carolina is a big opportunity to focus some much-needed attention on an industry that has been ignored in the past,” Owens continued. North Carolina has an incredible opportunity to restore its status as a premier fishing destination. In addition to benefitting the recreational fishing economy, the struggling commercial sector can be a premier local and sustainable seafood producer.