Merkley: Disaster Designation Will Help Provide Help to Oregon Fishermen and Coastal Economies

Washington, DC – Department
of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke officially declared the 2009 salmon
season a fishery failure in Oregon and California.  This step will make
the states eligible for $53 million in unspent disaster funds from 2008. 
Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following statement on the

“For the second year in a
row, salmon harvests have been shut down in Oregon.  This is a disaster
for our coastal communities and the families that depend on fishing
for their livelihoods.  Secretary Locke is doing the right thing in officially
designating the season a failure in order to provide emergency assistance
to the affected communities.  But that doesn’t change the deep disappointment
we in Oregon feel knowing that the season is shutdown once again.”

Earlier this month, Senator
Merkley joined Senator Wyden and Representatives DeFazio, Blumenauer,
Wu and Schrader in asking Locke to declare the 2009 season a disaster
so that the Department of Commerce could take immediate steps in helping
fishers and local communities.  They further urged that the Department
not base funding allocation on last year’s request but on the current
need so that all communities that rely on the salmon season receive
some disaster assistance.