Governor Ron DeSantis requested assistance for North Central Florida’s fishing industry to repair damage from Hurricane Idalia.
He wrote a letter on Wednesday to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce to issue a federal fisheries declaration providing federal funding for offshore, nearshore and inshore fisheries to rebuild.
In DeSantis’ letter, he explains the assistance would provide “much-needed” relief to the Big Bend region.
The region includes over 600 commercial fishermen, 160 fishery wholesalers and retailers and over 120 marinas. The industry is important not only to the region, but to the state’s economy.
“The fishing industry is an economic driver for this part of Florida,” said Secretary of Commerce J. Alex Kelly in a press release. “ 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.”
Saltwater recreational fishing brings in $9.2 billion into Florida’s economy, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
Idalia made landfall as a Category 3 storm causing major flooding and damage to coastal communities such as Steinhatchee, Cedar Key and Horseshoe Beach.
“One of the most important keys to recovery is getting people back to work,” DeSantis said. “I am calling on the federal government to help Floridians who depend on these fisheries get back on their feet.”
On Aug. 31, President Joe Biden ordered Federal aid to supplement state, tribal and local recovery efforts in the hurricane affected areas in Florida.
Federal assistance ranges from grants for temporary housing to low-cost loans for residents and business owners in Hamilton, Lafayette, Suwannee, Taylor, Dixie, Citrus and Levy county.
During Hurricane Ian last year, DeSantis made a similar aid request for fishing industries in Southwest Florida.
But according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, that request is still pending.