Governor Ron DeSantis requested the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo issue a federal fisheries disaster declaration to help the fishing industry in the Big Bend area rebuild. This disaster declaration would provide access to federal funding, subject to appropriation, that would allow offshore, nearshore, and inshore fisheries to rebuild.
Governor DeSantis requested a similar federal fisheries disaster declaration following Hurricane Ian. The U.S. Secretary of Commerce has not approved the Governor’s request despite the nearly one year that has passed since Hurricane Ian. The Governor will continue to fight for Florida’s fishing industry and urges the federal government to approve the fisheries disaster declarations for both Hurricane Ian and Hurricane Idalia.
“The Big Bend’s fishing industry took a direct hit from Hurricane Idalia, and as a result, so did the many residents who make their livings on the water here,” said Governor Ron DeSantis. “One of the most important keys to recovery is getting people back to work. I am calling on the federal government to help Floridians who depend on these fisheries get back on their feet.”
Hurricane Idalia heavily impacted the fishing industry in the Big Bend area through loss of boat facilities, halting commercial and charter fishing and loss of product due to power outages. Additionally, tourism for fishing in the area will be impacted while the community rebuilds.
“The fishing industry is an economic driver for this part of Florida and it is important that the people who are dependent on the success of the fisheries are able to access federal funding to keep their businesses going,” said Secretary of Commerce J. Alex Kelly. “Providing people the resources they need to get back on their feet and back to work is the best way to support long-term recovery in the Big Bend region following Hurricane Idalia.”
Florida leads the nation in the number of saltwater fishing anglers, generating a $9.2 billion impact on the State of Florida’s economy. Additionally, the dockside value of commercial fisheries is estimated at $244 million. The financial assistance from this disaster declaration would help replace fishermen’s lost income and rebuild their businesses and infrastructure.
Governor DeSantis’ letter requesting the declaration can be found here:
Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott along with congressional Republicans also support issuing a federal fishery disaster declaration.