June 15, 2006
Wyden gets disaster declaration forsalmon fishermen into Magnuson-Stevens
Senator removes hold on the major fisheries bill Washington, DC U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today removed his hold on the major piece of fisheries management legislation before the Congress (the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2005) after his amendment making salmon fishermen eligible for disaster assistance was added to the bill; the legislation is expected to pass the U.S. Senate tonight or early tomorrow.After waiting months for a disaster declaration from the Secretary of Commerce, our salmon fishermen can now finally see some movement to help address their immediate financial needs, Wyden said.Concerned that Oregon salmon fishermen and their communities were unnecessarily suffering under a steeply curtailed salmon fishing season, Wyden on June 6 blocked (held) the major piece of fisheries management legislation moving through the Congress until the Senate considered steps to help salmon fishermen survive this disastrous fishing season. His action followed two town hall meetings on the Oregon coast where he heard from fishermen concerned about the salmon season.Wyden and his colleagues will now seek Congressional appropriations to fund the disaster assistance. The disaster declaration is the crucial first step that authorizes funding to be spent on direct assistance to the fishermen and their communities; it also enables the Department of Commerce to reprogram excess funding in the current budget into disaster assistance.This declaration is an important first step in getting relief for our salmon fishermen and coastal communities, but its not the last step. Well keep at it, Wyden said.The Magnuson-Stevens bill now also includes language providing for a long-term solution to the problem of dwindling fish populations by authorizing a coordinated, comprehensive research and recovery plan for Klamath River salmon. That language, inserted by U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer, is taken from a bill she and Wyden introduced in April. The final bill also includes language by U.S. Senator Gordon Smith that limits to four percent the amount of disaster assistance the Secretary of Commerce may use to cover administrative costs.Im thankful to my colleagues, particularly Senators Smith and Boxer, for their contribution to these efforts and their commitment to the folks who rely on salmon for their livelihood, Wyden said. Their efforts will allow us to begin to address the long-term health of Klamath River salmon populations and to keep the administrative costs down as we get relief to fishing families.The full text of Wydens statement removing his hold today follows:Statement for the RecordSenator Ron WydenJune 15, 2006M. President, I wish to thank Senators Stevens and Inouye, the Chair and ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, for their efforts in incorporating my amendment into the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2005, S. 2012. My amendment makes Oregons salmon fishermen eligible for disaster assistance. Their willingness to accommodate my concerns and help Oregons salmon fishers means that I can withdraw the objection I issued two weeks ago to any Unanimous Consent request for the Senate to act on the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation Act. I also wish to thank Senator Smith and Senator Boxer for their important contributions and assistance. I look forward to swift passage of the legislation, as amended.The inclusion of the disaster declaration in the Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization is an important first step in getting relief for our salmon fishers and coastal communities that depend on salmon for their livelihoods. After waiting months for a disaster declaration from the Administration, our salmon fishers now finally have some movement to help address their immediate financial needs.Even with this important language the fight to help Oregons salmon fishermen is far from over, and I will continue to press for Congressional appropriations to fund the disaster assistance fishing families and the coastal fishing communities need.I ask unanimous consent that my statement be printed in the record.