After Florence, North Carolina fisheries begin recovery effort

Published on
September 21, 2018

As Hurricane Florence pounded the North Carolina coast, representatives from Endurance Seafood used social media to give a first-hand account of the situation.

“We are all safe,” the company announced on a 14 September Facebook post. “The dock and coolers, not so good.”

Company video shows a storm surge pushing into the Oriental, North Carolina community. It was powerful enough to take the down the dock, damage equipment and flood the area. Five days later, Endurance owner Keith Bruno showed UNC Public Media the extent of the damage. The fishing equipment was safe, he said. However, the land operations, where Endurance buys and markets seafood, has been destroyed.

Bruno told UNC’s My Home, NC that the company will live up to its name.

"You've got to move forward, you've got to keep going...because that's what we do,” he said. “We every once in a while have to pay a price to live so close to beauty." 

What price that will be for Hurricane Florence remains to be seen, but AccuWeather Founder and President Joel Myers predicted the storm will cause up to USD 60 billion (EUR 51.1 billion) in damage, and that includes the losses from the ongoing flooding wreaking havoc in the Carolinas.

A substantial portion of those losses will be incurred by the seafood industry, and once the weather subsides, officials want to be ready so they can expedite the recovery process.

“If you are a commercial fisherman, dealer and/or processor and have lost any gear, boats, etc., and are able to email, please send us a list of your losses,” Aundrea O’Neal posted on the North Carolina Fisheries Association’s Facebook page. “We are hoping to contact our legislators in Raleigh to see about getting some assistance for our industry, but we need figures to take to them.”

Business owners whose facilities and equipment sustained damages due to Florence and its aftermath should visit DisasterAssistance.gov to determine their eligibility for relief. The site can also connect them with other local and voluntary resources that can help them.

The North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries announced on its website that the agency’s headquarters won’t reopen until Thursday, 27 September, while the Central District Office in Morehead City will reopen on Monday, 24 September.

Last week, prior to Florence’s arrival, Erin Weeks, a division spokeswoman, told SeafoodSource the agency expected the high amounts of rainfall to affect the state’s white shrimp and blue crab fisheries. She noted though the extent of the damage wouldn’t be available until state biologists were able to assess the waters until it was safe.

Elsewhere, industry leaders expect Florence will have an impact on Atlantic fishing beyond the Carolinas, where it hit. Fortune Fish and Gourmet posted on its website that many vessels up and down the coast stayed docked due to the rough conditions. That could affect the price and supply of lobster and other shellfish products.

“Fresh water is the enemy of shellfish and many companies pulled up their gear ahead of the storm to mitigate damage,” the company said. “It will take a few days for supply to get up and running and for water quality to return to acceptable levels. The species affected include oysters, clams, and mussels.”

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