Federal Funding: Coastal Communities in line for ‘critical investments’

Oregon’s ports,
waterways, and coastal, fishing, and tribal communities could receive millions
of dollars in federal funding under U.S. Senate Appropriations bills, according
to Oregon U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley.

Merkley said the
funding bills make significant, targeted investments in small ports and
shipyards, boost Pacific salmon and steelhead recovery, and support Oregon’s
vital fishing industry.

“All, while taking
on the harmful impacts climate chaos is inflicting on our fragile, complex
marine ecosystems,” he said. 

Key funding elements
for the Oregon Coast include:

Small Ports and Army Corps Navigation: The program, which is vital source of
funding to help Oregon ports pay for dredging and other necessary
infrastructure projects, received over $355 million for deep-draft harbor and
channel improvements, $15 million for inland waterways, $25 million for navigation
maintenance, and $65 million for small, remote, or subsistence navigation.

Small Shipyards: The bill provides $25 million for assistance to small shipyards.
This program supports small shipyards by providing grants that can be used to
purchase equipment or train employees.

Salmon Recovery: The bill preserves $65 million for the Pacific Coastal Salmon
Recovery Fund. Created in 2000, this fund is a competitive grant program
designed to address declining Pacific salmon and steelhead populations by
supporting conservation efforts in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and
Alaska. The program is essential to preventing the extinction of the 28 listed
salmon and steelhead species on the West Coast.

Sea Grant Program: The program received a $14 million increase after Merkley led a
bipartisan resolution in support of the investment. Funded at $90 million, the
program, a priority for Oregon State University, uses targeted local
investments to create economic growth, sustainable fisheries, and resilient
coastal communities.

Ocean and Coastal Management and Services: The bill provides a total of $308
million for Ocean and Coastal Management and Services within the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This funding will fund critical
coastal services and programs such as: Coastal Zone Management Grants, National
Oceans and Coastal Security Fund, the Coral Reef Program, the National
Estuarine Research Reserve System, and Sanctuaries and Marine Protected

Pacific Shellfish: The bill includes $2.5 million in federal funding for cutting-edge
research to improve the productivity, sustainability, and resiliency of the
Pacific shellfish agricultural system. This research is critical to efforts to
mitigate the impacts of climate chaos on the health and economies of Oregon’s
coastal communities.

Maritime Environmental and Technical Assistance Program: The bill includes $10 million to
promote the research, demonstration, and development of emerging technologies,
practices, and processes that improve maritime industrial environmental

Pacific Salmon Treaty: The bill includes $43 million for the Pacific States, Tribal
Communities, and NOAA to continue activities in support of the obligations set
forth in the renegotiated annex of the Pacific Salmon Treaty. The bill also
provides $23 million for the operation and maintenance of Mitchell Act
hatcheries, which are meant to produce salmon and steelhead in the Columbia
River Basin for harvest and conservation purposes.

Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP): The bill provides a $4 million increase
for the SIMP program. This program ensures illegal, unreported, and
unregulated-caught and/or misrepresented seafood does not enter our

The next step for
the bill is merging with a counterpart bill from the U.S. House of
Representatives in order to be passed by both chambers and signed into law.