Salmon spawning in the US Northwest - a weakened phenomenon.
"It's a credit to the Central Coast fishing industry that it voluntarily supported the season's closure. The salmon collapse is another sign that we desperately need to reform our ocean management policies and allow regional experts to put their knowledge to use."
Disaster relief aid of USD 100 million is available to fishermen affected by this year's closure of the West Coast salmon season, announced the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Fisheries Service.
"The salmon fishery has been a mainstay of the West Coast's ocean fishing revenues for many years," said US Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. "This year's closure left thousands of fishermen and dependent businesses struggling to make ends meet. This disaster aid package of USD 100 million will help them get back on their feet."
The Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) will distribute the grant money to fishermen and businesses in the West Coast states of California, Oregon, and Washington.
The collapse of the fall chinook population in the Sacramento River and the poor state of coho salmon stocks in Oregon and Washington led to the closure of the fisheries.
Following the closure, the governors of all three affected states requested disaster declarations from the federal government.
In July, Congress appropriated USD 170 million for a disaster relief package; USD 100 million is to be distributed now, and the remaining USD 70 million will be made available later in the year.
The Bush administration diverted the USD 70 million to help pay for the 2010 census, an act that has attracted some criticism, reports The Times-Standard. The administration says the money will only be delayed until October.
California will get the largest portion of aid money, USD 62 million. Within the state, the Commission expects to send checks to 1,301 salmon trollers, 135 charter fishermen, 186 processors and 575 Sacramento River guides.
Commercial fishermen with permits will receive aid applications this week by mail. Licenced businesses can download an application from the Commission's website.
The first checks will go out on 1 October, said Randy Fisher, executive director of the Commission.
"These relief funds offer a small reprieve to the devastation that our fishermen and coastal businesses have experienced," said California Congressman Sam Farr.
USD 100 mln in disaster aid released to West Coast salmon fishers
Friday, September 19, 2008, 17:30 (GMT + 9)
By E. Fiske
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