New report on Sandy devastation to NJ fishing-related businesses

Posted on Posted in Small Business

A new report published this month by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Marine Fisheries Service shows the devastating impact of Sandy on New Jersey’s fishing-related businesses.

I’ve been speaking and writing about the accounting aspects of this topic for almost three years now based on feedback from my fishing industry contacts and clients so it is good to see some third party verification of the trend.

Some highlights of the report:
– New Jersey fishing-related businesses suffered nearly $300 million in estimated damages and lost earnings
– Bait shops and marinas had, on average, one fewer employee after Sandy.
– Commercial fishing boat crews were cut in half.
– Some fishermen and business owners will never return to their previous occupations while many others are still picking up the pieces.

Our businesses in Money Island NJ are certainly still reeling from the impact. We are on par with others in the region struggling to survive on about 40% paid occupancy and probably less than 25% pre-storm foot traffic.

Still, in this most difficult economic environment, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection stepped up measures to increase enforcement of waterfront development tidelands lease issues that pre-dated Sandy by decades. In the spring of 2013, at the height of the Sandy crisis, the NJDEP issued liens against most of our properties at Money Island NJ.

Likewise, the Cumberland County Department of Health issued notices of violation against us for septic systems that, according to locally conducted tests and long term state water tests, have never been a problem.

The NJ Department of Community Affairs assessed over $1,100 in late fees for fire safety inspections while the seasonal business was closed for Sandy repairs!

The local building office denied all permits for post-Sandy citing a pre-existing zoning issue and issued a $2,000 fine  for repairs made without a permit.

In 2014 Downe Township sent a letter that it intends to foreclose on the tax lien it holds on our properties and in the meanwhile continues to accrue interest at a rate of 18%.

Our businesses in Money Island NJ are certainly still reeling from the impact. We are on par with others in the region struggling to survive on about 40% paid occupancy and probably less than 25% pre-storm foot traffic. While Sandy was the devastating trigger of this economic stress, it appears that government and not nature are delivering the most hurtful blows.

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