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New Jersey says NOAA fisheries relief falls short

Despite a pool of more than $75 million in federal appropriations for fisheries disaster relief from Hurricane Sandy and other storm damage, New Jersey, at $1.5 million, has received a pittance compared with other regions, according to state legislators and anglers associations.

Marine industry losses in both commercial and recreational fishing because of Sandy have been estimated at $121 million in New Jersey and $77 million in New York, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The two states have been told to split $3 million allocated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service for the recovery, officials told the Inquirer. NOAA has not indicated how funding disbursements were determined.

But one of the six places NOAA is distributing money for declared disasters in 2012 and 2013, Alaska — removed by 4,600 miles from where Sandy made landfall in Brigantine, N.J., on Oct. 29, 2012 — will receive $21 million of the funds for issues with its salmon fisheries. States in New England directly affected by Sandy — Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island — will receive the largest share, $33 million, for depleted fish stocks.

In a joint statement released after NOAA made the announcement about the funding late last month, U.S. Sens. Robert Menendez and Cory Booker said they were “disappointed and dumbfounded” by NOAA’s decision.

“By NOAA’s own estimate, our state suffered more than $120 million in losses, and a $3 million allocation for New Jersey and New York is a slap in the face to thousands of hard-working families in our fishing industries working hard to rebuild and recover,” the statement said.

About 4,000 people are employed by New Jersey’s commercial fishing industry; 18,000 work in the recreational boating and fishing industry.