Hurricane Irma Cost Florida Fishing Industries Almost $200 Million

Aug 24, 2018

Hurricane Irma cost Florida's fishing industries almost $200 million, according to a damage assessment released by the state and federal governments.

The storm crossed the Florida Keys as a Category 4 hurricane last Sept. 10, then traveled to Southwest Florida and up the state.

The Keys are Florida's most valuable commercial fishery, ranked 12th in the nation by value of landings. The area is also home to a thriving recreational fishing industry, both in offshore fishing in the Atlantic and the flats of Florida Bay and the Lower Keys backcountry.

According to the damage assessment, Florida's seafood industry is worth $5.9 billion a year, while the recreational fishery is worth $7 billion.

Irma wrecked plenty of boats, but that wasn't its only impact. It also damaged fish houses, bait-and-tackle shops, marinas and hotels booked by charter boat clients.

"Some for-hire operations in the Keys reported losing all their pre-booked charters through the middle of January 2018," the report states.