By Sean Murphy, SeafoodSource online editor
Published on 06 November, 2012
As various businesses and companies along the East Coast struggle to get back up and running after Hurricane Sandy, a leading seafood industry group in New Jersey is turning to the federal government for help.
The Garden State Seafood Association, which represents about 200 boat owners and operators, restaurants and other seafood industry-related companies, has applied for federal disaster aid, according to Greg DiDomenico, the association’s executive director.
DiDomenico said the state’s ports took a huge hit when Sandy, dubbed a “Superstorm” by meteorologists, struck last week. Ports in the northern part of the state, such as Belford, had the most severe damage. Some of them, he said, are still without power, it’s impossible to know how bad the damage is.
“These guys are waiting for power to come on to see if everything’s working,” he said.
DiDomenico said the association is not specifying a dollar amount, but are asking for aid through the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act, two federal laws that allow a state’s governor to seek assistance in the event of a natural disaster. The association, in a release, said it was seeking Gov. Chris Christie’s help in asking for federal aid.
Amy Cradik, a policy advisor with Christie’s office, said the governor’s staff is working with a number of federal agencies, including the National Marine Fisheries Service, to help get the association the aid it needs.
“We are actively working with the Garden State Seafood Association,” she said. “We want to support the industry in every way we can.”
DiDomenico said the association is looking for aid to help with repairing the ports, but Sandy’s cost, in the end, could be much greater for the industry. Right now, he said, N.J. consumers are too busy recovering to buy much seafood, even if the industry was functioning normally.
“I’m sure demand’s going to take a hit for a while,” he said.
Even New Jersey companies that export nationally or worldwide, DiDomenico said, often shipped through New York City. Major shipping ports and lanes through the city were knocked out from the storm as well, so international exporters have lost money, too.
“We don’t really know how much of an impact there will be yet,” he said.