Oregon Legislators Approve Package of Salmon Fishing Aid

June 26, 2006

Oregon will provide as much as $3.2 million to help the state’s fishermen hurt by federal restrictions on commercial salmon fishing, legislators decided.

The Legislative Emergency Board voted to set aside $2.2 million from lottery proceeds for projects such as ocean research and habitat restoration that could provide temporary jobs for out-of-work fishermen and their immediate families.

The board also approved a plan to use $500,000 from a reserve fund to help fishermen meet mortgage or insurance payments, or get safety equipment for boats. The plan calls for an additional $500,000 to be set aside for possible release in September.

In April, the Bush administration decided to limit the ocean salmon season to protect runs of chinook salmon returning to the Klamath River.

An analysis by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife estimated that the total potential loss to the Oregon fishing industry and communities at $32.2 million and about 700 full-time jobs.

“This is a huge issue for my district. This is our spotted owl,” said Rep. Deborah Boone, D-Cannon Beach. She referred to restrictions on logging on federal lands to protect habitat for another species.

Other legislators said communities that depend on logging have suffered economic losses brought on by the enforcement of federal environmental laws.

“My heart goes out to the folks on the coast,” said Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner. “I know what it means to have an industry taken out from under you.”

But, Smith said, the proposal is “politics over policy” and the state is “going to be broke” if it jumps in to help every industry that suffers a significant financial downturn.

Topics Oregon

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