More than $160,000 in aid has been issued to commercial fishermen in Southeastern North Carolina who were impacted by Hurricane Florence.
The total is part of $11.6 million in relief being distributed by the N.C. Division of Marine Fisheries, according to officials with the agency.
Marine Fisheries mailed out the first round of checks Friday under the Hurricane Florence Commercial Fishing Assistance Program, according to a news release from Gov. Roy Cooper's office.
Hurricane Florence in mid-September severely disrupted the state’s commercial fishing industry throughout the fall. The storm destroyed boats, gear and buildings critical to fishing businesses, officials said in the release.
The program is designed to help the state’s nearly billion-dollar commercial fishing industry due to the storm, officials said in the release.
“Hurricane Florence dealt a serious blow to North Carolina’s fishing industry last fall, disrupting fishing and destroying boats and gear for fishermen all along our coast,” Cooper said in the release. “Getting these funds directly into the hands of commercial fisherman will be a big help as they and their families and communities work to recover.”
The state cut 664 checks totaling more than $3.2 million to help compensate commercial fishermen for income losses from September harvest reductions due to Hurricane Florence as documented by state harvest records, officials said.
"The state collects records of all marine fish and shellfish sold at North Carolina docks," officials said in the release.
More than 100 checks were cut for those in New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick counties. New Hanover's checks total nearly $65,000; Brunswick County's were just over $63,000; and in Pender County, fishermen are set to receive more than $32,200 in aid.
“A handful of checks for September losses are still being processed due to missing information. These checks will be mailed as soon as possible,” officials stated in the release.
The $11.6 million program is part of a package of Hurricane Florence relief efforts Cooper signed into law on Dec. 3.
Distribution of the money is based on reported commercial fishing landings in September, October and November as compared to the same months in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
Numbers courtesy of the Division of Marine Fisheries.