Originally published on blogs.ifas.ufl.edu. Last modified: October 10, 2022
Hurricane Ian caused significant damage to large parts of Florida and the state’s fisheries and aquaculture industries were particularly hard hit. Several sources are available for industry members needing assistance. This webpage will be updated when additional information is provided.
Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) are open across the Hurricane Ian impact area. Information regarding many of the disaster assistance programs and services described below will be available at the DRCs. A breakdown of emergency loans available from the state and federal agencies can be accessed at this link.
The federal government has already set up a page specifically for those impacted by Hurricane Ian. The website provides links to see if you qualify and how to apply for direct disaster assistance and disaster unemployment assistance.
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides low-interest loans to help businesses and homeowners recover from disasters.
The Florida Small Business Development Center (SBDC) has a network of offices around the state willing to help those impacted by Hurricane Ian. The SBDC can help small business owners locate and apply for disaster loan assistance and develop and implement recovery strategies designed to keep your business afloat. The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Florida Small Business Emergency Loan Program provides short-term, zero-interest working capital loans to bridge the gap between the time a disaster impacts a business and when a business has secured longer term recovery funding such as federally or commercially available loans, insurance claims or other resources. The maximum loan amount is $50,000 with a term of one year. The loans are currently available to businesses established before September 24, 2022, located in Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Flagler, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Monroe, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk, Putnam, Sarasota, Seminole, St. Johns, and Volusia counties. Click here for more information and to start an application.
Aquaculture producers participating in either the USDA Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) or the USDA Noninsured Crop Disaster Assitance Program (NAP) may be eligible for relief. Both programs are managed by the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) and growers should reach out to their local FSA office for information on making a claim. Aquaculture operations with ELAP coverage must file a notice of loss within 30 days and those with NAP coverage must file a notice of loss within 15 days.
Several sources are available for industry members needing assistance:
Given the damage caused by Hurricane Ian to parts of Florida’s fishery and aquaculture industries, it is likely that the state of Florida will request the U.S. Department of Commerce to declare a federal fishery resource disaster in the coming days. The link below provides an outline for the steps involved in a fishery disaster declaration including how a determination is made and information on assistance following the appropriation of funds if a disaster is determined to have taken place.
While each disaster and associated assistance funding program is different, the disaster relief program implemented after Hurricane Michael included funding in the form of direct payments to impacted charter/for-hire operators, aquaculture farmers, commercial fishermen, and commercial wholesale dealers and reimbursements for improvement of uninsured repair to wholesale facilities and marina facilities. It is important to note that the fishery disaster declaration and relief assistance program process involves multiple steps and does not provide short-term relief (payouts usually occur several years after the disaster). Industry members in need of immediate funding should look to other programs:
- U.S. Small Business Administration
- Florida Small Business Development Center Network
Andrew Ropicki, Marine Resource Economics Specialist, UF/IFAS Extension Florida Sea Grant
Scott Jackson, Regional Specialized Agent, UF/IFAS Extension Bay County, Florida Sea Grant