Washington, D.C.- Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA), Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Don Young (R-AK) led a group of 24 bipartisan lawmakers in urging Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to quickly provide robust allocations for Pacific coast fishery disasters declared in 2017.
The bipartisan budget deal, that passed Congress in February, provided $200 million in long overdue fishery disaster relief for struggling fishing communities. This funding will be divided between several fishery disasters nationwide.
“These disasters have been impacting West Coast fishing communities for years, and the aid this appropriation represents is desperately needed. We ask that sufficient financial support is provided to Alaska, California, and Washington for the nine fishery disasters experienced in our respective states,” wrote the lawmakers in the letter.
“The urgency of these situations requires your expedited attention, and we are grateful for the resources you have and will be dedicating to the issue,” continued the lawmakers.
The following Pacific Coast fishery disasters, that spanned between 2014-2016, were declared in 2017:
• California Dungeness and rock crab fishery (2015-2016)
• Yurok Tribe Klamath River Chinook salmon fishery (2016)
• Gulf of Alaska pink salmon fisheries (2016)
• Fraser River Makah Tribe and Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe sockeye salmon fisheries (2014)
• Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay non-treaty coho salmon fishery (2015)
• Nisqually Indian Tribe, Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, and Squaxin Island Tribe South Puget Sound salmon fisheries (2015)
• Quinault Indian Nation Grays Harbor and Queets River coho salmon fishery (2015)
• Quileute Tribe Dungeness crab fishery (2015-2016)
• Ocean salmon troll fishery (2016)
In addition to Reps. Speier, Huffman and Young, the letter was also signed by: Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Reps. Grace F. Napolitano (D-CA), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Mark Takano (D-CA), Doris Matsui (D-CA), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), Peter A. DeFazio (D-OR), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Denny Heck (D-WA), Kurt Schrader (D-OR), Rick Larsen (D-WA), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Dave G. Reichert (R-WA), and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR).
The full text of the letter can be found below:
The Honorable Wilbur Ross
Department of Commerce
Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Secretary Ross,
We write to request robust allocations for Pacific coast fishery disasters declared on January 18, 2017 that are now eligible to receive the disaster appropriations provided under the Bipartisan Budget Act, PL 115-123. We were pleased that the budget deal passed on February 9 included an appropriation of $200 million to provide aid for commercial fisheries disasters. We look forward to working with you to ensure that fishery disaster funds are allocated fairly, equitably, and comprehensively among our constituents.
These disasters have been impacting West Coast fishing communities for years, and the aid this appropriation represents is desperately needed. We ask that sufficient financial support is provided to Alaska, California, and Washington for the nine fishery disasters experienced in our respective states.
As you know, the significant closures and restrictions in these fisheries disasters led to significant financial and personal hardship in Pacific Coast fishing communities from California to Alaska. Unfortunately, the conditions of these fisheries have not improved since these disasters, and recovery will not be easy. Many of our constituents have continued to suffer from closures and environmental perturbations in other sectors, including salmon, sardine, sea urchin, Pacific cod, and crab fisheries. Several of these additional fisheries are or will soon be the subject of disaster declaration requests sent to you by the governors of our respective states. The urgency of these situations requires your expedited attention, and we are grateful for the resources you have and will be dedicating to the issue.
We appreciate that, in 2017, the Department of Commerce declared these seasons to be commercial fishery failures, making them eligible for disaster relief. Now we ask that you provide this critically needed relief to Pacific coast fisherman and communities as authorized by Congress. Our constituents and fishing communities are suffering and we request your assistance with this urgent matter.
Thank you for your consideration.