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Scott Boley, Oregonian Salmon Troller Responds to Oregonian Article "Feds declare fishery disaster" by Peter Sleeth
8/13/06 - printed with permission from Scott Boley

FOLLOWED BY Oregonian article

 Hello Peter --My name is Scott Boley and we met this summer at the second Governor's Summit in Newport on the Salmon Fishery Disaster. This Thursday, I was present at the announcement in Coos Bay by Deputy Commerce Secretary David Sampson of the Federal Designation of the West Coast Salmon Fishery as a fishery failure. I think it is a very significant and a clear signal that not only are our NW Senators, Congressional Representatives, Governor, state Senators and Representatives, and our local government people determined to preserve our traditional and historic salmon troll fishery, but that the Federal Administration is now also aware of our plight and pledging to help, not only with relief, but with understanding and trying to remedy the real problems affecting the survival of Salmon in the Klamath River.

To that end, we met with Dr. Sampson, Dr. Hogarth of NMFS, and Senator Smith after the announcement and talked about solutions to the Klamath Salmon Problem. Oregon's industry, as represented by the Oregon Salmon Commission, is trying hard to understand the real factors affecting salmon survival, and work cooperatively with other stakeholders on solutions. Our agenda is totally focused on establishing healthy salmon populations on the Klamath, and traditional fishing opportunities for ourselves, tribal fisheries, and sport fishermen. We also feel that the Klamath Basin Farmers have been unfairly singled out for blame, when in fact there are a host of factors and problems that need attention, and truthfully if anyone is to blame it is all of us, for not understanding the complexity and ramifications of past actions in a very complex ecosystem. We need to build alliances to solve these problems, not divide stakeholders and start wars.

I think it was appropriate of you to ask a member of the environmental community about this disaster declaration, as they have been supportive of the fishing industry, and rightly or wrongly critical of some actions by the administration. However I was puzzled by why you would quote Glenn Spain, who is only allied with California's Industry, and not talk to a real Oregon fisherman or a member of the only active organization that speaks for Oregon's Salmon Industry, The Oregon Salmon Commission. Mr. Spain to my knowledge represents not a single Oregon Troller, not one, and for you to quote him and not someone from Oregon's Industry is misleading to the public at best. Oregons Salmon Fishermen are active, organized, and working on solutions, and it is not under PCFFA's banner, or under the banner of Mr. Spains IFR group.

Some good Contacts for you Peter would be: Nancy Fitzpatrick, the administrator of the Oregon Salmon Commission --ph 541-994-2647 Daurus Peake --Chairman of the Commission 503-362-3600 (Garibaldi Processor and Fishing boat owner) Jeff Reeves --Co-Chair 541-297-0474 (Charleston Fisherman) Kevin Bastian 541-270-0947 (Newport Fisherman and Commission Member) myself 541-425-0066 (Gold Beach Processor and a Fisherman) Scott Cook 541-404-7075 (a very active fisherman in Charleston) Paul Merz 541-290-6445 (another very active Charleston fisherman with extensive watershed and enhancement contacts) Jeff Feldner 54270-3465 (Newport fisherman, PFMC SAS representative, and former Oregon FWC member)

I know Glenn Spain is in your rolodex, easy to contact, and has a ready quote. He is an attorney by training and good press contacts are part of how he makes his money. However if you want a true reflection of Oregon's Industry and their views, go the extra step and talk to some of the active people in the industry, the real fishermen, or the administative person who champions their industry, Nancy Fitzpatrick. The quotes may not be quite as ready, but they will be a true reflection. Thank you Peter and feel free to call me. I am not really good with a ready quote, but I can truthfully tell you what is going on or who to contact on an issue. --Scott Boley

Feds declare fishery disaster Salmon cutback
Congress is now clear to secure direct aid for affected fishermen and coastal businesses
The Oregonian 8/11/06

Friday, August 11, 2006 PETER SLEETH U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez announced a long-awaited disaster declaration for salmon trollers in Oregon and California on Thursday -- a step that came with no money but increased chances for a congressional cash infusion.

The federal declaration marks only the second time that a formal commercial fishery failure declaration has come while the fishing season was still under way.

Gutierrez said it already was abundantly clear the salmon fleet and its coastal communities were suffering as a result of a broad fishing closure to protect weak salmon runs returning to the Klamath River.

When Congress reconvenes in September, it now can move forward with the Bush administration's backing to seek millions of dollars in direct aid to fishermen and coastal businesses hit by the 85 percent reduction in the length of the fishing season. Gutierrez blamed five years of drought for critical conditions in the Klamath, a river that originates in Oregon and spills into the Pacific Ocean in California.

"This is very good news," said U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore. "What this does is put the ball in the court of Congress to come up with the money."

No one would speculate how much money could come from a gridlocked Congress, but the most credible estimates of need put the number at $30 million or more in Oregon and California. At least three bills seeking money for the fleet have failed to move through Congress.

Fishermen, who have received little in the way of assistance despite promises of help, greeted the news warily.

"It's a step in the right direction for us," said Kevin Bastien, a salmon troller from Newport who pilots the 40-foot fishing boat Gal. "Right now I'm tuna fishing to get by. It's going to be a tough year."

Trollers from central California to northern Oregon are being forced to drastically reduce their catch along a 700-mile stretch of coast so that fishery managers can protect dwindling runs of Klamath River salmon. Because the fish can be found in the ocean north and south of the mouth of the river in Northern California, fishery experts have reduced all fishing to minimize the catch. Despite record-high prices, the value of the landings is expected to be 16 percent of the five-year average.

Fishermen who will be eligible for any disaster relief fish in the zone from Cape Falcon, near Manzanita, to Point Sur, near Monterey, Calif.
Gov. Ted Kulongoski, along with Oregon and California's congressional delegations, has been appealing to the Bush administration since May for disaster relief. Thursday morning, Gutierrez announced his decision in a conference call with Kulongoski and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"Oregon has responded to this critical need with direct cash assistance and a jobs program for out-of-work fishers, but state aid only serves as a bridge to the day when federal help arrives," Kulongoski said in a statement. "That day cannot come soon enough."

The governor has so far mustered $500,000 for direct payments to fishermen and $2.2 million in job assistance. More than 300 applications for direct aid have poured in.

Glen H. Spain, northwest regional director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, said approximately 2,000 permit holders for salmon trolling could be eligible for assistance, in addition to the ice plants, packing houses and other related businesses.

"The end result is it will be up to Congress now, and that is where we have to pin our support," Spain said. "The feds got us into this mess, and they have to help get us out."

Few people are expecting anything but further poor returns for Klamath salmon in 2007, with fishermen once again facing a perilous year.

Many in the fishing industry blame poor management of the Klamath River by the federal government and the Bush administration in particular. In Oregon, irrigation withdrawals take too much water, they say, while dams and habitat damage along the course of the 250-mile stream kill fish.

"This is an important step," said U.S. Rep. David Wu, D-Ore., on Thursday. "But the situation we are in is completely unnecessary . . . The ultimate irony is the substantial closure of the ocean fishery is only going to save a few hundred fish, where the water policy kills thousands."

Steve Pedery, of the Oregon Natural Resources Council, said he was glad to see the improving chances for relief in the fishing fleet. He said he doubted that the drought was the real reason behind the Klamath's problems. Federal water policy is the real culprit, he said, and it needs to be addressed.

"I just hope we're not right back here looking for a disaster declaration next year and the next year and the year after," he said.

Peter Sleeth: 503-294-4119; petersleeth@news.oregonian.com

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