By Donna Westfall – May 4, 2017
For the last two years we’ve had a horrible crab season, in part, caused by a government shut down, and this year, the government has closed the salmon season. But wait, there’s more. Now Governor Brown wants to increase the landing fees by over 2,500%. Think about it for a minute. The fishing season is closed so our fishermen can’t fish, but if they could, they would be hit with incredible punitive landing fees that make no sense.
Our government has, in effect, closed down fishing, the mainstay of our economy in Del Norte county. Talk about devastation! This is one of the worst.
Mike Coopman of Coopman’s Guide Service told the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors last week that he is disappointed that our governor has not declared a state of emergency, because many local businesses are impacted such as motels, tackle shops, restaurants and others. “People are suffering because this is truly a state of economic emergency,” said Coopman.
In an interview, Supervisor Berkowitz said, “We had hoped that there would have been relief in the president’s spending bill for the rest of the 2017 federal budget year, but that did not happen. Now we must take our case to Congress to insure that the administration realizes how this closure affects, tribes, fishing guides, motels RV parks and everyone on the North Coast.”
We hope that relief is on it’s way with the introduction of two congressional bills introduced by 2nd District Congressman Jared Huffman. The two bills he offered yesterday would provide $140 million to our fishermen
Huffman and California Congresswoman Jackie Speier (Hillsborough) also urged Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on Wednesday to declare a new fisheries disaster for the 2017 salmon season.
The Crab Emergency Disaster Assistance Act of 2017:
- Appropriates $117.39 million for disaster assistance to California Dungeness and rock crab fishermen and related businesses to be distributed by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission;
- Investigates the root cause of the crab fishery disasters by designating $1 million for West Coast domoic acid sampling and monitoring, and $5 million for competitive grants distributed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for research on harmful algal bloom prediction and domoic acid toxicity.
The Yurok Tribe Klamath River Chinook Salmon Emergency Disaster Assistance Act of 2017:
- Appropriates $22.45 million for disaster assistance to the Yurok Tribe for the 2016 Yurok Tribe Klamath River Chinook salmon fishery disaster.
- Of the $22.45 million, $14.45 would provide assistance for the support of local Yurok fishing communities affected by the fisheries failure, and $6 million would be used for the restoration and monitoring of salmon habitat, to prevent a similar fishery failure occurring in the future.
Following the fishery disaster process laid out in the Magnuson-Stevens Act, unused funds will be returned to the U.S. Treasury. The Secretary of Commerce declared these 2015-2016 fishery disasters in January 2017, making them eligible for federal funding, but the funds must now be provided by Congress.
“Now is the time to act. We must insure that congress passes these two bills to help our fishing industry on the path to becoming viable again.” said Berkowitz.