Press Release of U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer

For Immediate Release:
September 2, 2010  
Washington D.C. Office (202) 224-3553

Boxer, Feinstein Praise Move to Extend Disaster Assistance to Salmon Fishermen  

Disaster Declaration by Commerce Department a Crucial Step Toward Providing Relief to Fishermen

Los Angeles, CA – U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein (both D-CA) today welcomed the announcement by Commerce Secretary Gary Locke of an extension of the disaster declaration for California’s salmon fishermen, who are suffering after three consecutive years of devastating fishery closures. The extension will make fishermen and small businesses in affected coastal communities eligible to receive disaster assistance.

Senator Boxer said, “This declaration will make it possible to provide critical help to thousands of fishermen and small businesses in California that have been devastated by three straight years of fishery closures. Now it’s up to Congress to fund this vital assistance to help our coastal communities through this difficult crisis.”

Senator Feinstein said, “For the third year in a row we have a fishery failure in California and salmon fishermen are without an income. Secretary Locke’s declaration means that it is now up to the Congress to provide relief to help these fishermen get through the year. We will look for a way to be able to provide some funds. It is a difficult time and nothing is assured, but we will do our level best.”

This request comes in response to projections that adult Sacramento River Fall Chinook salmon will have very small returns this year, which prompted the Pacific Fishery Management Council to cancel all but a few days of the Chinook salmon fishing season off the coast of California. This year’s partial salmon closure comes after two previous years of complete or near-complete salmon closures in 2008 and 2009, which led to the loss of thousands of jobs. Commercial salmon fishery revenues this year are projected to be 81 percent lower than average revenues from 2003 through 2005, the period before the decline.

In June, Senators Boxer and Feinstein wrote a letter to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke supporting Governor Schwarzenegger’s request to continue the declaration of commercial fishery failure. They will be sending a letter asking Congressional appropriators for their assistance in securing disaster relief funds for affected salmon fishing communities.

Senators Boxer and Feinstein have previously worked with other colleagues in the West Coast Delegation to secure $60.4 million for the 2006 closure of the Klamath River salmon fishery and $170 million for the 2008 through 2009 closure of the Sacramento River salmon fishery.