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Commerce Secretary Rules V.I., P.R. and Florida Fisheries Suffered ‘Catastrophic’ Damage and Fishermen Can Get Grants, Loans

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WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross ruled the U.S. Virgin Islands, Florida and Puerto Rico all suffered catastrophic fishery disasters after Hurricanes Irma and Maria swept through the region last fall.

Ross’ formal designation gives participants in the fisheries to be eligibility for U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster loans and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) public assistance.

“The Department of Commerce and NOAA support the rebuilding efforts of communities across the Gulf which were devastated by hurricanes in the past year,” Ross said. “This declaration provides a path forward to helping fishermen and businesses recover and grow.”

Under the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the governors of Florida, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico asked the Secretary of Commerce to determine whether a commercial fishery failure occurred due to a fishery resource disaster.

Thanks to the new ruling, participants in the fisheries are also eligible for Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Caribbean region since 1989. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

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