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Oregon congressional delegation members urge fishery disaster declaration

U.S. Capitol
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U.S. Capitol

WASHINGTON (KTVZ) -- Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., is leading members of the Oregon delegation, including Sen. Ron Wyden and Reps. Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader and Suzanne Bonamici, in urging the U.S. Department of Commerce to grant a catastrophic regional fishery disaster declaration for the State of Oregon, after three consecutive years of drought and changing ocean conditions have severely harmed salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest.

“The value of salmon to Oregon cannot be overstated. In addition to the economic activity generated by this 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,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “However, the challenging impacts of climate change, increased drought, and changing ocean conditions complicate the recovery of salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest.”

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 has dropped precipitously—down to $2.3 million in 2018, $2 million in 2019, and $1.4 million in 2020.

“Federal support for this industry is critical while local, state, and federal partners continue to work toward long-term solutions,” the delegation wrote.

Read the full letter here, or below.

The Honorable Gina M. Raimondo
Secretary of Commerce
United States Department of Commerce
U.S. Department of Commerce
1401 Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20230


Dear Madame Secretary:

We write to urge you to expeditiously approve Governor Brown’s request for a catastrophic regional fishery disaster declaration for the State of Oregon ocean commercial salmon fisheries for 2018, 2019, and 2020. The commercial salmon fishery is of critical importance to our state, generating income for commercial fishermen and economic activity for rural communities along Oregon’s coastline. Federal aid is urgently needed to mitigate the negative impacts of three consecutive years of steep declines in revenue generated by this fishery and provide support to these economically distressed communities.

In 2018, 2019, and 2020, the commercial ex-vessel value of Chinook was $2.3 million, $2.0 million, and $1.4 million respectively. This is a significant decrease from the average 2013-2017 value of $6.3 million. The value of salmon to Oregon cannot be overstated. In addition to the economic activity generated by this 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. However, the challenging impacts of climate change, increased drought, and changing ocean conditions complicate the recovery of salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest. Federal support for this industry is critical while local, state, and federal partners continue to work toward long-term solutions.

Thank you for your prompt attention to Governor Brown’s request for a fishery disaster declaration. We look forward to your response and our offices stand ready to assist in any way.

Sincerely,

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