Gov. Chris Christie and his administration are requesting a federal disaster declaration for New Jersey’s fishing industry after Hurricane Sandy caused major revenue losses and damage to the fleet and infrastructure.

The commercial industry, which includes some of the largest ports on the East Coast and the country, and the recreational fishing industry combined bring in $2.7 billion in economic activity, Christie said in a news release.

“The storm resulted in significant losses for the industry, damaging or destroying vessels, ports, facilities, and equipment. It also left coastal areas that the industry needs severely damaged or inaccessible. This declaration will help the fishing industry obtain immediate disaster relief assistance and help it cope during this time of great economic loss and hardship,” Christie stated.

In a letter sent Tuesday to acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank, Christie said he personally has seen the damage and destruction to the infrastructure, including damage to offices, warehouses, boats, aquaculture facilities and equipment. Christie also said that water-quality issues caused the closure of state shellfish beds for weeks.

On Nov. 11, beds in the Delaware Bay between Cape May Point and Alloways Creek reopened. On Wednesday, the Department of Environmental Protection reopened the Atlantic coast shellfish beds between Cape May Point and Little Egg Inlet.

Christie is seeking a “federal catastrophic regional fishery disaster declaration” and financial assistance through the regional economic transition program. The declaration would give those in the fishing industry access to financial assistance.

New Jersey's commercial fishing industry in 2011 generated more than $1.3 billion in economic activity, through 175 million pounds of seafood, and the recreational industry generated about 8,500 jobs and $1.4 billion in annual sales.

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