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Kulongoski asks legislators to help out salmon trollers

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Gov. Ted Kulongoski is asking for $2 million from state lawmakers to shore up the salmon trolling industry on the Oregon Coast, emergency money he said is needed while waiting for federal assistance.

In a letter sent Wednesday to Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, and House Speaker Karen Minnis, R-Wood Village, the governor asked for a vote of the Legislature's Emergency Board on Friday to approve the aid. It would be available for fishermen to pay certain bills to keep their businesses afloat.

The money is in addition to a request for $2.2 million in lottery funds to create jobs for fishermen whose livelihoods are jeopardized by a short salmon season this year. In April, the Bush administration decided to severely limit the ocean salmon season to protect imperiled runs of chinook salmon returning to the Klamath River in Northern California. As a result, up to 600 salmon trollers are in need of financial assistance.

Repeated requests for financial help from the Bush administration have so far gone unanswered, as have efforts in Congress to get disaster funding.

Kulongoski volunteered to deliver $500,000 from his strategic reserve fund to immediately help out fishermen on the Oregon Coast. In return, he wants the Emergency Board to reserve an additional $1.5 million in funds until September. If no federal help arrives by then, the money would be given to salmon trollers.

-- Peter Sleeth

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