| Aid for salmon trollers: $500,000
Lawmakers and state officials say a recent effort to
secure funding for the commercial salmon industry is a lifeline. Fishermen
say it's an anchor.
Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski said in a press
release Thursday he will release $500,000 from his Strategic Reserve Fund
to help salmon trollers prevented from fishing a full season this
Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney,
D-Salem/Gervais/Woodburn, and Speaker Karen Minnis, R-Wood Village, also
agreed to have the Legislature's Emergency Board reserve a matching amount
for fishermen, but that money won't be released until
“This crisis has inflicted financial hardship on fishing
families, who - as small independent businesses - have limited eligibility
for social services, such as unemployment compensation,” Kulongoski said
in the press release.
The Emergency Board also is expected to
approve today the allocation of $2.2 million to the Oregon Watershed
Enhancement Board for projects that will provide job opportunities to
displaced fishermen and their families.
The initial $500,000 would
be administered through the Oregon Department of Agriculture, to help
qualifying fishermen pay bills associated with equipping, maintaining and
operating their businesses and boats. The state expects between 400 and
500 commercial salmon permit holders in Oregon could benefit from the
It means about $1,000 to each fisherman - enough to pay
one bill of many that are coming due, said Charleston troller Jeff
The initial $500,000 is not enough, some fishermen
“It was a waste of my time,” Reeves said in a voicemail about
his trip to Salem to make a pitch to the Emergency Board.
have argued since March that assistance should be made in direct payments
to the fleet and associated industries, but that begs the questions: How
can funds be distributed fairly and equitably? And who makes that
Salmon trollers are mostly smaller boats,
about 40 feet or so in length. The bigger boats can fish rougher weather,
but the small vessels often can't travel as far up or down the coast to
find the Chinook when the season is open. Many of the boats also fish for
other species, such as Dungeness crab, tuna or groundfish, but some
“We're unique,” Reeves said, noting that the fishing
industry is managed under so many different regulations, that there is no
way to prepare for the quick changes, such as this year's
“We don't know if we'll be fishing or not,” Reeves
Those conditions, and the unique makeup of the industry make
it difficult to make an accurate economic assessment of what losses could
Kulongoski's press release said the losses could be up to $32.2
million. The Pacific Fishery Management Council said that income from
salmon fishing in 2006 is expected to be reduced by about 64 percent over
2005 income. National Marine Fisheries Service officials said this year's
season will be about 40 percent of the usual commercial salmon harvest,
but it doesn't match up with Charleston trollers who have zero opportunity
to catch salmon this year.
Each boat and owner is an individual
entity that fishes distinctly different patterns and manages its business
differently. Boat owners also are payroll clerks, maintenance crews,
delivery personnel, human resources managers and business managers all
rolled into one simple term: fishermen.
During early salmon
assistance discussions, some state officials said that perhaps some funds
could be used to pay the moorage for boat owners.
trollers said that direct payments would be best.
Scott Cook, for example, pays annual moorage at both Charleston and Coos
Bay. Which moorage bill would get paid? Cook asked.
“It makes no
sense,” Cook says. “One guy's bill is $500, another's is
Some fishermen aren't enamored with the prospective
jobs-in-the-woods programs to do habitat restoration work, either, or, for
those fishermen on the Central and North Coast, to work with scientists on
The restoration work likely will accept a little more
than a dozen fishermen. Reeves wants to know what will happen to benefit
the other trollers.
Still, there are trollers interested in both
Jon Souder, executive director of the Coos Watershed
Association, said more than 30 fishermen already are signed up to do
habitat restoration work and he expects more will add their names to the
list. So far, nobody's asked fishermen to sign up for at-sea science work,
he said, but that, too, is important work.
“The DNA work could help
resolve this situation in future years,” he said.
- Staff Writer
Susan Chambers can be reached by calling 269-1222, ext. 273; or by