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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. (Photo: Stockk File)

Commercial disasters declared for nine West Coast fisheries

Monday, March 20, 2017, 23:50 (GMT + 9)

The Commerce Secretariat determined that nine salmon and crab fisheries in Alaska, California and Washington experienced commercial failures, which will enable fishing communities to seek disaster relief assistance from Congress, NOAA Fisheries Division reported.

The decision was taken by US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker due to the fact that in recent years, each of these fisheries experienced sudden and unexpected large decreases in fish stock biomass due to unusual ocean and climate conditions.

The fisheries deemed to have experienced commercial failures are the following:

  • Gulf of Alaska pink salmon fisheries (Alaska/2016)
  • California Dungeness and rock crab fishery (California/2015-2016);
  • Yurok Tribe Klamath River Chinook salmon fishery (California/2016);
  • Fraser River Makah Tribe and Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe sockeye salmon fisheries (Washington/2014);
  • Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay non-treaty coho salmon fishery (Washington/2015);
  • Nisqually Indian Tribe, Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, and Squaxin Island Tribe South Puget Sound salmon fisheries (Washington/2015);
  • Quinault Indian Nation Grays Harbor and Queets River coho salmon fishery (Washington/2015);
  • Quileute Tribe Dungeness crab fishery (Washington/2015-2016);
  • Ocean salmon troll fishery (Washington/2016).

“The Commerce Department and NOAA stand with America's fishing communities. We are proud of the contributions they make to the nation's economy, and we recognize the sacrifices they are forced to take in times of environmental hardship," said Samuel D. Rauch III, deputy assistant administrator for regulatory programs, NOAA Fisheries.

Rauch stressed their commitment to helping these communities recover and achieve success in the future.

Under the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Commerce Secretary can determine a commercial fishery failure due to a fishery resource disaster, which then provides a basis for Congress to appropriate disaster relief funding to provide economic assistance to affected fishing communities, including salmon and crab fishermen, affected by the disaster.

NOAA stated that if Congress appropriates funds to address these fishery failures, it will work closely with members of Congress and affected states and tribes to develop a spending plan to support activities that would restore the fishery, prevent a similar failure, and assist affected communities.

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