Wyden, Merkley Seek Federal Disaster Help for Coastal Fisheries

Wyden, Merkley Seek Federal Disaster Help for Coastal Fisheries

Senators’ letter comes after nine months of inaction by Trump administration

Washington, D.C. – Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today urged Trump administration officials to take action on their nine-month-old request seeking disaster aid for West Coast fisheries.

The Oregon senators wrote Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that the Trump administration has failed to answer their June 2017 letter following up on a May 2017 request by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and California Gov. Jerry Brown for fishery disaster declarations to help coastal communities. At the urging of Senator Merkley, who sits on the Appropriations Committee, and Senator Wyden, the government spending bill approved last week by Congress contained $20 million for fisheries disasters nationwide. These disaster funds will help Oregon communities recover, but not until the Trump administration responds to last year’s request for a disaster declaration.

“The bottom line is that fisheries are bringing home less money on the Oregon coast, which is hurting these communities,” they wrote Ross. “Congress has acted to provide $20 million to mitigate the effects of commercial fishery failures and fishery resource disasters, but our Oregon communities need your agency to finalize the disaster declarations before they can begin to recover.”

According to the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the 2017 value of the Oregon commercial salmon troll harvest was 51 percent below the previous year’s level. Albacore catch was down 50 percent in 2017 – with total landings the lowest in at least 20 years. The Dungeness crab season opened late the past three years, limiting fishing opportunities up to a month and a half in a single season.

The entire letter is here