Gutierrez Announces Klamath River
"Fishery Resource Disaster," Immediate Steps to Help Fishing Communities
Department of Commerce July 6,
WASHINGTON - U.S.
Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez today announced that he was
taking several steps, including declaration of a fishery resource
disaster, to help West Coast fishing communities in Oregon and California
impacted by fishing restrictions necessitated by several years of drought
and reduced salmon stocks in the Klamath River basin . The Commerce
Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
oversees the nation's oceans based fishing industry and fisheries
"Fishermen and their families in Oregon and California are being hit hard
from several years of drought conditions which have led to a low abundance
of fish and severely restricted catch. Today, I am declaring a fishery
resource disaster, which will pave the way for relief to our fisherman,
their families and their communities," said Gutierrez. "We will move
quickly to implement both a short and long term effort to find ways to
help. Today's announcement is not the end of the process, but the
beginning. In all of our efforts, we will be guided by compassion, common
sense, and a careful application of the law and federal regulations."
Today's announcement opens the door for the Small Business Administration
(SBA) to provide low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans. At the
Secretary's direction, NOAA is working with the States to accelerate the
data collection necessary to determine whether there has been a commercial
fishery failure. The Secretary also pledged that if the data supports a
failure declaration, he is prepared to issue one expeditiously. Secretary
Gutierrez is also encouraging the States of California and Oregon to
allocate funding provided by Commerce through the Pacific Coast Salmon
Recovery fund to activities that will benefit the affected region, and has
committed to work with the States to ensure that they have the necessary
flexibility to do so.
want to thank all the Members of Congress and Governors who have been
involved in this issue, and look forward to continuing to work with them
on behalf of the fishing community and on our shared goals," Gutierrez
added. "I would also like to thank the local communities and groups that
have been involved in the Administration's ongoing collaborative process
that continues to address the long term restoration needs of the Klamath
River basin. Through cooperative conservation we can develop lasting
solutions that will maintain the diverse economies that this river has
long supported. I am heartened by the support that inland farming
communities, such as the Klamath Water Users Association, have given to
the small rural fishing communities of coastal Oregon and California ."
Gutierrez's announcement includes the following steps:
Declaration of a fishery resource disaster under the Interjurisdictional
Fisheries Act (IFA), allowing fishermen to become eligible for SBA
Economic Injury Disaster Loans.
that the Governors of Oregon and California, who fully recognize the
severity of the problem, closely review their pending 2006 Pacific Coast
Salmon Recovery Fund grant applications and determine how to best
channel existing resources and speedily disburse monies to programs that
can help effected fishermen. NOAA will provide maximum flexibility to
such grant requests. The States of California and Oregon each received
nearly $6.5 million in 2006 under this program.
high level officials to the Klamath River communities, beginning the
week of July 10, to expedite the collection of economic impact data, a
critical step to determining whether the disaster will result in a
commercial fishery failure under the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the IFA.
- Direct that the
Commerce Department's Economic Development Administration (EDA) make
fishery impacted communities a funding priority for FY'07 Economic
lengthy 5-year drought in the Klamath Basin has led to significantly
reduced precipitation and streamflows in the basin. These conditions have
degraded important spawning habitat, increased infestation of harmful
parasites, and thus have not provided the conditions necessary for healthy
Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act provides a mechanism for the Secretary
of Commerce to assist states in managing interjurisdictional fisheries. It
is designed to promote research and enforcement of fishery resources,
develop Fishery Management plans, and restore resources damaged by a
natural resource disaster. The Secretary is also working within his
authority prescribed by the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) which provides for
the conservation and management of fishery resources within the U.S.
Exclusive Economic Zone.
Department of Commerce, through the NOAA Fisheries Service is responsible
for protecting and preserving our nation's living marine resources and
their habitats through scientific research, management and enforcement.
NOAA Fisheries Service provides effective stewardship of these resources
for the benefit of the nation, supporting coastal communities that depend
upon them, and helping to provide safe and healthy seafood to consumers
and recreational opportunities for the American public.