Merkley, Wyden announce major investments for Oregon’s coastal communities

Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today
announce Senate passage of major investments for Oregon’s ports, waterways, and
coastal, fishing, and tribal communities included in Congress’s fiscal year
2023 omnibus appropriations package. The legislation passed in the Senate and
is expected to clear the House of Representatives this week before being signed
into law by President Biden.

“As I hold a town hall for 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
package I championed makes significant, targeted investments in small ports and
shipyards, boosts Pacific salmon and steelhead recovery, and supports our vital
fishing industry, all while taking on the harmful impacts climate chaos is
inflicting on our coastal communities. I am excited to see how these huge
investments will boost the Oregon Coast for years to come.”

“The past three years of financial challenges triggered
by fallout from the public health crisis, have revealed how crucial resilient,
year-round economies are to our coastal communities,” Wyden said. “I
am proud to support funding that will make significant investments in Oregon’s
small ports, our state’s historic fishing industry and the stabilization of the
iconic Pacific salmon and steelhead populations. Federal dollars are an
important first step toward healing marine ecosystems from the harm done by the
climate crisis, while also supporting our coastal communities getting a fair
shot to compete in the global economy.”

Merkley is the only Oregon member of Congress from either
chamber since Senator Mark Hatfield to serve on the Appropriations Committee,
which wrote the bill and is 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 and Wyden
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 $352 million for deep-draft
harbor and channel improvements, $36 million for inland waterways, $32 million
for navigation maintenance, and $65 million for small, remote, or subsistence

Small Shipyards: The bill provides $20 million for
assistance to small shipyards. This program supports small shipyards by
providing grants that can be used for maritime workforce development efforts,
to purchase equipment, or to improve shipyard infrastructure.  

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 $80 million, a $4 million
increase in support of the investment. 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 $300 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.

Offshore Wind Dialogues: The bill directs the Bureau of
Ocean Energy Management to ensure appropriate engagement occurs with local communities
and stakeholders in the Pacific Northwest as it considers floating offshore
wind off the West Coast.

Maritime Environmental and Technical Assistance Program: The
bill includes $6 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 $41 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.

Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP): The bill provides
a $1 million increase for the SIMP program. This program ensures illegal,
unreported, and unregulated-caught and/or misrepresented seafood does not enter
our marketplace.