Wyden, Merkley Urge Funding for Salmon Disaster Relief
Oregon Senators Seek $9.8 million in Disaster Funding to Aid Salmon Fishing Communities
Washington, D.C. - Working to save Oregon's salmon industry and the coastal communities that rely on it, U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D- Ore.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) asked the Senate Appropriations Committee today for an additional $9.8 million in federal disaster assistance.
"This is the third year out of the last four years that commercial salmon fishing has been virtually eliminated along the Oregon coastline due to low salmon return numbers from one of the major salmon runs," Wyden and Merkley said in a letter to Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye and Ranking Member Thad Cochran. "The impact to our coastal communities has been devastating, and our fishermen and supporting businesses continue to struggle after the repeated fishery failures of recent years."
Wyden and Merkley are seeking the additional disaster relief funding as part of the emergency supplemental appropriations bill being considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee. On April 30, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke extended the 2008 salmon disaster declaration for California and Oregon, which gave West Coast salmon fishermen access to $53 million in unspent relief funds from 2008, including $6.7 million for Oregon. However, the Governor's office has estimated that an additional $9.8 million is needed to further ease the impact of low salmon returns.
The letter is attached below:
United States Senate
May 12, 2009
The Honorable Daniel K. Inouye The Honorable Thad Cochran
Chairman Ranking Member
Committee on Appropriations Committee on Appropriations
United States Senate United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Inouye and Ranking Member Cochran:
We understand that the Senate Appropriations Committee is in the process of preparing an emergency supplemental appropriations bill. We urge you to include $9.8 million in disaster assistance for Oregon salmon fishermen in the spending package.
On April 30, 2009, Secretary Locke extended the 2008 West Coast salmon disaster declaration for California and Oregon in response to expected poor salmon returns to the Sacramento River. This is the third year out of the last four years that commercial salmon fishing has been virtually eliminated along the Oregon coastline due to low salmon return numbers from one of the major salmon runs. The impact to our coastal communities has been devastating, and our fishermen and supporting businesses continue to struggle after the repeated fishery failures of recent years.
As a result of the continuation of last year's disaster declaration, our fishermen will be able to access $6.7 million of remaining disaster assistance funds appropriated for Oregon and Washington last year. However, the Governor's office estimates this will leave a shortfall in Oregon's disaster needs of $9.8 million. It is critical to include this funding at this time so that funds can be distributed as quickly as possible to commercial fisherman and dependent businesses. Such timely assistance is essential to keep our coastal communities afloat, helping prevent credit problems and dangerous delays in the upkeep and maintenance of fishing vessels. Appropriating these disaster funds is an urgent priority for our constituents. For this reason, we urge you to include these funds in the emergency supplemental appropriations bill. We continue to remain steadfastly committed to working toward a long-term solution to ensure that our fishermen, farmers, and tribes do not have to continue to suffer similar disasters again.
We appreciate your attention to this issue and look forward to working with you to appropriate these funds as quickly as possible.
Ron Wyden Jeff Merkley
United States Senator United States Senator