April 27, 2006

Wyden, Smith Prepare $81 Million Support Packagefor Salmon Fisherman

Washington, DC U.S. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) have introduced legislation that would provide $81 million in emergency disaster assistance for Oregon and California fishermen impacted by restrictions placed on salmon fishing."Fishermen on Oregons coast are facing a bleak salmon season this year, and thats on top of a bad season last year. Doing nothing just isnt an option, Wyden said. This emergency assistance will address the immediate financial needs of our coastal fishing communities that depend on salmon for their livelihoods.Salmon fishermen are part of the backbone of the Oregon economy, Smith said. Supporting the fishermen impacted by the restricted salmon season will help sustain the coastal economy and ensure a paycheck is available to put food on the table. It will be an uphill battle to pass the legislation into law, but Senator Wyden and I are going to do everything we can to support the fishermen.Under Smith and Wydens legislation, $81 million would be provided to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission to be distributed to those in coastal communities that have been declared to be in a state of emergency as a result of the limited salmon fishing season. The assistance would be available tax free to fishermen, fish processors and businesses (such as cold storage facilities, ice houses, and docks) supporting the fishing industry. Cities or town that experiences a loss in fish landing fees or revenue related to the fishing industry are also eligible.The number of naturally spawning Chinook salmon in the Klamath River is expected to fall short of the set goal of 35,000 for the third straight year. Earlier this year, federal fish managers recommended closing down a 700 mile stretch of coastline to salmon fishing. The U.S. Department of Commerce is expected to announce soon on what areas will be closed to salmon fishing this summer.Senators Smith and Wyden have been working with fishermen and coastal officials to draft the assistance package. They are going to work to secure assistance as soon as possible.