Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley announced he secured major investments for Oregon’s ports, waterways, and coastal, fishing, and tribal communities through FY23 Senate Appropriations bills.
“As I hold a town hall in each of Oregon’s 36 counties every year, I hear from folks in every corner of the state about what matters most to them, including strengthening the sustainability, resiliency, and economy of our coastal communities,” Merkley said. “The funding bills I championed make significant, targeted investments in small ports and shipyards, boost Pacific salmon and steelhead recovery, and support our vital fishing industry, all while taking on the harmful impacts climate chaos is inflicting on our fragile, complex marine ecosystems. I will keep pushing to get this critical legislation across the finish line to benefit the health and economies of Oregon’s coastal communities.”
Merkley is the only Oregon member of Congress from either chamber since Senator Mark Hatfield to serve on the Appropriations Committee, considered to be one of the most powerful on Capitol Hill. He joined the committee in 2013 so that Oregon would have a strong voice in decisions about the investments our nation should be making.
Key elements for the Oregon Coast that Merkley fought for in the funding bills 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 Areas.
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 sustainability.
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 marketplace.
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.