After Hurricane Idalia swept across Florida, it severely impacted the state’s fisheries. As a major contributor to the economy, the State of Florida requested that the U.S. Department of Commerce declare a “federal fishery resource disaster” to help fishery businesses after the major storm. Moreover, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and his colleagues sent a letter to Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo hoping she would support Florida’s request.
“We respectfully urge you to expeditiously approve the disbursal of disaster assistance to fishing and seafood businesses that have been disrupted and/or destroyed by the storm,” wrote Sen. Rubio and the other Florida lawmakers.
They would also mention, “As noted in the initial request, Florida’s recreational saltwater fishing industry has a $9.2 billion annual economic impact, and commercial fisheries total $244 million in dockside value. Florida’s Big Bend region, which was most severely impacted by Hurricane Idalia, is home to more than 600 commercial fishermen, 160 fishery wholesalers and retailers, 240 aquaculture shellfish farmers, and 450 for-hire charter captains. These small businesses need the federal government’s expeditious assistance to recover from this Major Hurricane.”
The letter included the notion that the Sunshine State still is awaiting two determinations two from previous federal fishery resource disasters – Hurricane Sally and Ian – which occurred in December 2020 and October 2022, respectively.
The legislators finished their letter by stating that “it is required to help these communities recover.”
“Florida’s iconic fisheries are foundational to the economy and way of life in many of the communities that have been devastated by Hurricane Idalia. A timely and robust response by the Department of Commerce, through the declaration of a fishery disaster in support of Florida’s fishing industries, is required to help these communities recover. We urge you to approve these declarations without delay,” the letter concluded.
Governor Ron DeSantis’ request included a deadline for an interim response of 20 days and a complete review of the request within 120 days. Further, the Department of Commerce must provide an issuance of determination within 14 days of completion of the review consistent with the requirements of the Fishery Resource Disasters Improvement Act.
Joining Rubio were Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) and Representatives Daniel Webster (R-FL), Kat Cammack (R-FL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Anna Paulina Luna (R-FL), Brian Mast (R-FL), Mike Waltz (R-FL), and Vern Buchanan (R-FL).