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New Jersey’s Fishing Industry Struggling To Recover From Sandy

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By Robin Rieger

CAPE MAY, N.J. (CBS) – New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin signed an order Wednesday afternoon opening up, as of sunrise Thursday morning, the shellfish beds in coastal waters and estuaries from Little Egg Inlet to Cape May Point.

Crews unloaded about a quarter of a million clams from the commercial clamming vessel The John N that pulled into Atlantic City’s Gardner’s Basin Wednesday morning following 36 hours out on the ocean.

“Oh yeah, we had a good trip,” said captain Steve Novack.

They could clam out in the ocean but, according to the Department of Environmental Protection, they were not able to enter the Atlantic Bays following Hurricane Sandy.

A few sewer plants overflowed into coastal waters and shellfish beds were closed as a precaution. The storm also damaged some fleets and infrastructure.

“The water was like chest high. We were shut down; a week to ten days, no work. No boats could go out or in,” said dock worker Joe DeJames.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie is requesting a federal disaster declaration for the states commercial and recreational fishing industries that support over 14,000 jobs and generate, according to Christie, about $2.7 billion in economic activity.

“There was 42 inches of water in Mike’s Seafood,” said owner Mike Monichetti. He says he has insurance but not enough to cover the losses at his seafood restaurant and retail store in Sea Isle City.

“Took out cooking equipment, took out showcases, walk in coolers and freezers,” he said. Monichetti is determined to be up and running in the spring.

“We are doing some cleanup, we’ll be back,” said John Kunicki.

He’s the chef at the flooded Scales Grill and Deck Bar in Gardner’s Basin.

We asked him if consumers would see higher local seafood prices because of Sandy.

“In the Long term no, short term maybe,” said Kunicki. He said the demand now in the off season is lower. Had Sandy hit closer to the end of summer there would have been a bigger impact on prices.

The Department of Environmental Protection commissioner is working to help Delaware Bay oyster men whose shellfish beds opened Monday.

He may extend their season for two weeks to make up for time lost as a result of Hurricane Sandy.

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