Second round of Florence checks sent to commercial fishermen

Published 6:27 am Thursday, April 11, 2019

More financial relief is on the way to North Carolina commercial fishermen hit hard by Hurricane Florence, Gov. Roy Cooper announced April 5.

The checks are part of $11.6 million being distributed by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s Division of Marine Fisheries under the Hurricane Florence Commercial Fishing Assistance Program.

For this round, 1,002 checks totaling $7,231,500 are going to fishermen to help compensate for October and November harvest reductions due to Hurricane Florence.

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“When the storm hit, coastal communities suffered tremendous damage to homes, businesses, schools and their entire economy,” Governor Cooper said. “Helping the commercial fishing industry recover is critical for the people and places who rely on it for their livelihood, and these funds are an important boost.”

The program is designed to help make up for losses to the state’s nearly billion-dollar commercial fishing industry due to the storm and is part of a package of Hurricane Florence relief efforts Cooper signed into law on December 3, 2018.

The first round of checks to fisherman went out in February and included 678 checks totaling more than $3.2 million to help compensate fishermen for reductions in the September harvest.

Distribution of the money is based on reported commercial fishing landings in September, October, and November 2018 as compared to the same months in 2015, 2016, 2017. The state collects records of all marine fish and shellfish sold at North Carolina docks.

Hurricane Florence severely disrupted North Carolina’s commercial fishing industry throughout the fall of 2018. The storm’s historic rainfall and powerful winds destroyed boats, gear and buildings critical to fishing businesses.

As a result of the storm, a federal disaster declaration for the state’s marine fisheries industry was awarded. That designation can assist with additional relief for commercial fishing families struggling to make a living while repairing their businesses.

According to the state Division of Marine Fisheries, the North Carolina commercial fishing industry generated more than $96 million in revenue in 2017.

The total number of checks and amount in four northeastern counties for both rounds of payments are:

Currituck: February: 20, $87,871.99, April: 20 $100,744.51

Dare: February: 82, $567,234.40, April: 135, $1,446,779.01

Hyde: February: 36, $443,151.22, April: 62, $819,276.07

Tyrrell: February: 16, $68,727.85, April: 6, $11,121.27