Wyden, Merkley Announce Investment in Conservation Program to Protect Whales Off Oregon Coast

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today announced a $26,205 federal grant awarded to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for its program to improve environmental conditions for whales off the Oregon Coast by reducing the risk of whales entangled in fishing gear.

“Oregon has a proud history of conservation, and fishing is the lifeblood of our coastal communities economies,” Wyden said. “This important investment is a win-win on both fronts, protecting threatened whales and ensuring Oregon’s fisheries continue to thrive.”

“Oregon’s breathtaking coast makes countless contributions to the spirit our state and the vitality of our local economies,” said Merkley. “This funding is critical to maintaining the health of our waters, while ensuring that Oregon’s fishing industry can support families in coastal communities for generations to come.”

Two years ago, Oregon Sea Grant convened a multi-stakeholder working group at the request of Oregon fishermen to reduce the risk of whale entanglements in Dungeness crab and other fixed gear in Oregon and along the entire West Coast. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration grant will continue these efforts by gathering valuable spatial data on both whale migration and fishing patterns to minimize interactions between the two, information that can be used by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to guide future management decisions to protect threatened whales and ensure the continued stability of Oregon’s coastal fishing industries.

A web version of this bill is available here.