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 PRESS RELEASE: KWUA applauds Secretary of Commerce's disaster declaration for fisheries
KWUA July 7, 2006

The Klamath Water Users Association (KWUA) applauds the announcement made yesterday by U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez regarding the administrations planned actions to help struggling west coast fishing communities.

In the announcement, Secretary Gutierrez outlined a series of actions that will be taken, including the declaration of a fishery resource disaster.  The Secretary pointed out that several years of drought conditions in the Klamath Basin has degraded habitat and increased the occurrence of harmful fish parasites.

Yesterday’s announcement opens the door for the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans.  The announcement stopped short of declaring a “commercial fishery failure”, which could provide direct financial aid.  However, the Secretary pledged that if the data supports a failure declaration, he is prepared to issue one expeditiously.

KWUA has been supportive and has urged the Commerce Department to take action. In his announcement, Secretary Gutierrez acknowledged the support of other communities and organizations including KWUA.

Steve Kandra, President of the Klamath Water Users Association, was pleased with the announcement and hopes these steps will lead to further assistance.

“Despite what many people may think, farmers and fishermen have much in common. We are very happy that the Secretary has started the ball rolling”, said Kandra. 

“We know there is more work to be done, but this is a critical first step”.

Kandra added that the Association is honored that the Secretary specifically mentions the support that KWUA has given to coastal communities.

“It really means a lot that he did that. Hopefully people will recognize that we have not been sitting by idly and watching this happen. We are trying to help.”

The announcement comes on the heels of yet another meeting between Klamath Basin farmers and ranchers and Oregon coastal fishermen.  Members of the Oregon Salmon Commission, commercial fishermen and sea food processors spent parts of two days touring the Klamath Irrigation Project with local agricultural producers and members of KWUA.

Greg Addington, Executive Director of the Water Users is encouraged by the amount of local support for fishermen. 

“Much of the credit for opening the dialogue between farmers and fishermen goes to individuals from both communities who have chosen to reach out to one another. They haven’t done it for publicity or self promotion; it has been about sharing information and finding common ground.”

The Klamath Water Users Association is a non-profit organization representing the interests of irrigation, drainage and improvement districts within the Bureau of Reclamation’s Klamath Project. 

In 2001, Project irrigators had their water supply severely curtailed to protect listed species.  KWUA remembers the support offered by coastal communities and now is an opportunity for us to support them.

The Secretary’s full press statement and the declaration are attached as PDF files.


 http://www.commerce.gov/opa/press/Secretary_Gutierrez/2006_Releases/ July/06_Gutierrez_Klamath_Salmon_stmnt.htm




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