Herald and News 11/27/08
GRANTS PASS (AP) — The Bush administration has come through with the remaining $70 million of the disaster relief that Cong ress appropr iated to help salmon fishermen and related business after the West Coast fishery collapsed last summer.
Congress appropriated $170 million, but last September the administration started handing out only $100 million. It said it wanted to use the rest to help cover costs of the census, but would supply the aid to the salmon industry once the fiscal year changed.
NOAA Fisheries Regional Director Bob Lohn said the money was released after Congress refused to go along with a request from the Office of Management and Budget to redirect it.
So far, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission has distributed about $75 million, primarily to commercial fishermen and processors, said Executive Director Randy Fisher. About 12 percent is going to Washington, 16 percent to Oregon and 72 percent to California.
This year’s disaster relief is going much further than aid distributed in 2006, when only commercial fishermen and processors got money.
Help for businesses
Any business that can prove a loss is eligible. Commercial fishermen get $3 a pound for their best year between 2002 and 2007, and charter boat owners get $85 a person for the same period. Initially, businesses will get half the amounts they claimed. The balance will come after all initial claims are made and if there is enough money left.
The fishery failure stemmed from the sudden collapse of the chinook salmon run from California’s Sacramento River, and to a lesser degree, of coho from coastal rivers in Oregon. Scientists are studying the causes.