Florida’s Governor Ron DeSantis has asked for federal aid in the form of a disaster declaration for Florida’s fishing industry, which was badly impacted by Hurricane Ian. Sports fishing is a major tourist draw in Florida, with the saltwater fishing sector worth an estimated $9bn a year to the state.
DeSantis said on Saturday October 15th at a marina in Punta Gorda that “today, I officially requested the federal government to declare a fisheries disaster to provide access to funding to support our fisherman in their recovery. While we await the federal government’s decision, I will continue to make zero interest loans available to help our captains and fishermen rebuild.”
An estimated 5,000 boats were damaged by the hurricane in southwest Florida, as well as road access, docks, boatyards, and the lodging and amenities needed for tourism.
Private boats and debris remain littered along the waterfront in the Fort Myers region. The removal of damaged vessels and restoring the area into an attractive tourist destination would take time and money.
The disaster declaration would also help commercial fishermen in southwest Florida, who have also hit problems. In some areas they lack a wholesale buyer to whom they can sell their catch.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Chairman Rodney Barreto told a press conference on October 15th that “they need an avenue to sell their product, and we are going to have to find out how, because it doesn’t exist right now”.