Update: Oregon Delegation Announces Over $7 Million for Federal Fishery Disaster Declaration  

The federal funding will help ocean commercial fishermen in Oregon recover from significant economic losses in 2018, 2019, and 2020 from declining salmon populations. 

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, with U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and U.S. Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Val Hoyle (OR-04), Andrea Salinas (OR-06), and Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR-05), announced today the U.S. Department of Commerce is sending Oregon a total of $7,050,722 for the fishery disaster declared for 2018, 2019, and 2020 Oregon Chinook salmon ocean commercial fisheries in the state. The Oregon delegation first announced the determination in October 2023, and the federal funding distribution was announced this week to support the state’s fisheries, industries, subsistence users, and fishing communities. 

The determination, championed by the Oregon delegation, makes local fishermen eligible to apply for reimbursement from the over $7 million in disaster assistance funding available from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This will help the state’s coastal economies recover from years of drought, changing ocean conditions, and critical habitat loss that have severely harmed salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest. 

“Oregon’s fishing industry is essential to our state’s economy and creates good-paying jobs our communities rely on,” Merkley said. “The Oregon delegation pushed for this federal disaster declaration to help our fishermen who are recovering from the significant economic toll of declining salmon populations. This $7 million in federal funding now available for our fishermen further cements our commitment to investing in the long-term recovery of Oregon’s coastal communities.”  

“In my open-to-all town halls, I hear from Oregonians living and working on the coast who are directly impacted by the ebbs and flows of the fishing industry,” Wyden said. “Communities all along the Oregon Coast know firsthand how crucial the fishing industry is to their job growth and economic vitality. I’m gratified the federal Commerce Department agreed to the Governor’s and the delegation’s request to support this iconic and productive Oregon industry and look forward to celebrating this news with fisherfolk at my town halls in Lincoln, Tillamook and Clatsop Counties next week.”

“It is impossible to overstate the value of salmon to Oregon. This federal disaster declaration will be a lifeline for Oregon’s fishing communities. As we continue to push to restore healthy and abundant salmon populations, it is also an important step forward for the federal government to honor its treaty obligations with Pacific Northwest tribes,” said Blumenauer.

“This declaration will benefit the Pacific NW’s fishing industry, workers, and economy,” said Bonamici. “Oregon’s fisheries have worked hard to overcome numerous challenges in recent years, including decline in the salmon population, and this determination will provide support so they can sustain the industry and grow into the future.” 

“The Secretary of Commerce has allocated $7 million to support Oregon’s Chinook salmon fisheries that were affected by disasters in 2018, 2019, and 2020,” said Hoyle. “Our fishermen need support to get through the bad years for the Chinook fishing season. This funding is much-needed relief to support sustainable fisheries and resilient communities while we work to improve salmon runs and ocean conditions long-term. I’m committed to supporting healthy salmon populations and making sure we can sustain good paying jobs for our coastal communities.”

“Salmon are critically important to our culture, identity, and economy here in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, climate change, drought, and a whole host of other factors are causing the salmon population to decrease every year,” said Salinas. “I am proud to announce that Oregon’s salmon fisheries will be receiving $7 million in federal assistance to help make up for lost revenue, which will be beneficial as we work to find long-term solutions that will address the dwindling salmon population.”

“I’m glad much-needed federal assistance will be coming to local fisheries,” Chavez-DeRemer said. “This critical industry has suffered a number of setbacks in recent years, and I’ll continue working with the Oregon delegation to ensure fishermen are able to recover and succeed.” 

In addition to the economic activity generated by Oregon’s commercial fishing industry, salmon are an important part of the cultural heritage of Pacific Northwest Tribes, generate recreational activity, and are a treasured natural resource across the state. As a result, declining salmon populations hurt the state and the region on many levels.  

From 2013 to 2017, the commercial value of Chinook salmon was around $6.3 million annually for Oregon fisheries. But with the impacts of climate chaos impacting salmon populations, the economic value of Chinook fell sharply to $2.3 million in 2018, $2 million in 2019, and $1.4 million in 2020.  

In response, Senator Merkley led the delegation in a series of letters to U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, including one in 2021, detailing the critical need for federal support for this industry while local, state, and federal partners continue to work toward long-term solutions. 

Additional efforts from the Oregon delegation seeking the U.S. Department of Commerce to determine a fishery disaster in the state for years following 2020 are ongoing. This includes the latest letter in April led by Senator Wyden in support of Governor Tina Kotek’s request for a federal fishery resource disaster declaration. 

Click HERE for the full list of fishery disasters receiving a total $42 million that were announced by the U.S. Secretary of Commence this week.