Last week, in conjunction with requests from the Governors of Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross determined catastrophic fishery disasters occurred in these areas because of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. These hurricanes made landfall in August and September of 2017. Under the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Governors asked the Secretary of Commerce to determine whether a commercial fishery failure occurred due to a fishery resource disaster, in these cases caused by destructive hurricanes.
Through these fishery disaster declarations, participants in the fisheries are now eligible for Small Business Administration disaster loans. Additionally, because these fisheries are in areas declared a Presidential disaster, public fishery infrastructure-related losses are eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency Public Assistance.
Economic Development Administration grants and Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds are another potential source of assistance for fisheries pending allocations and grantee Action Plans. NOAA looks forward to working closely with Congress and Florida, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico to continue to support recovery efforts.