Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank said the storm wrecked the fishing resources of the communities in both states, "which depend on a robust fishing industry to support their families and local economies."
Blank's declaration of a fishery resource disaster and a catastrophic regional fishery disaster allows Congress to appropriate federal relief funds for a natural disaster, according to a news release from the agency.
If money is appropriated, Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will work closely with members of Congress and the governors of affected states to develop financial assistance plans to help coastal communities and the fishing industry.
"This disaster declaration is part of a coordinated federal effort to help the region rebuild," Blank said.
In 2010, New Jersey and New York commercial fisheries landed almost 190 million pounds of fish, valued at more than $210 million, the agency said. Recreational fishermen in the two states in 2010 took more than 10 million trips and caught a total of nearly 5 million fish.