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Governor begins relief efforts

* "People are going to die" - John Cook, Bandon salmon troller

By Pat Ratliff
Klamath Courier staff writer
April 5, 2006

SALEM - Governor Ted Kulongoski opened his emergency summit on salmon by apologizing to the commercial fishermen for calling them to Salem.

"Time spent in governmental meetings is time and money lost to you," Kulongoski told those attending the meeting, "But I want to hear from
commercial fishermen about what they will endure and how much they need."

The Governor held a special summit on the fishery closing situation to gather information on what services the state could provide to the salmon
fishermen.  The conference included directors from almost every state agency, representatives from Oregon's congressional delegation, and a number of commercial fishermen on hand to discuss potential impacts and means of support from the State.

"I want a commitment," Kulongoski told the officials, "From every public official here, whose agency can provide relief to start the ball rolling."

The fishermen listed seven main concerns.

1. Loss of market share, which took 5-7 years to get back last time.
2. The whiting fishery which takes approximately 10,000 salmon per year as incidental catches.
3. Yearly start up fees for fishermen which average $5000 dollars of federally mandated equipment and updates.  This figure does not reflect maintenance and moorage fees.  Fishermen spend an estimated $10,000 just to get their
boats in the water each spring.
4. The possibility of fisheries management creating derby fisheries, a few days a week to fish, forcing fishermen to fish in dangerous conditions.
5. Lack of boat maintenance after last years season was cut short, and no season this year.
6. Access to the Oregon Health and Human Services Department.
7. Unemployment compensation for the trollers and deck hands.

"People are not going to be able to keep up maintenance." John Cook, a Bandon fisherman told the governor, "they are going to be desperate and have to go out.  People are going to die."

Speaking of conditions in the Klamath River, the governor cautioned against finding fault only with the Upper Basin.

"We are working to get Governor Schwarzenegger to come to the Klamath Basin and get to work with us on the problems."  Kulongoski said. "The state of Oregon has been trying to get the state of California and tribes to work with us, and it has been somewhat difficult."

Kulongoski has appointed Cam Preus-Braly, his director of workforce development and community colleges, to serve as director of implementation
of ideas discussed at the meeting.  Preus-Braly worked in the groundfish disaster response, and commented that she "learned lessons from it."

One lesson is that "direct compensation is critical" and another is that outreach programs based on people who live in the fishing community
is crucial."

"This will be a bi-partisan effort." Josh Kardon, Chief of Staff for Senator Ron Wyden said, "All hands on deck."
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