West Coast Salmon Fishermen Get $100m in Aid
West Coast salmon fishermen will receive $100 million in disaster relief for damages suffered due to historic closures of major king salmon runs in California.
The failure stemmed from the collapse of the chinook run in the Sacramento River, where the fish return to spawn. Scientists are unsure of the cause, but are examining ocean condition, habitat destruction, dam operations and agricultural pollution.
Congress had earlier approved $170 million in aid, but the Bush administration announced in June that it would divert $70 million to help pay for higher-than-expected costs of conducting the census.
Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) accused the Bush administration of "trying to steal money from salmon fishermen to give it to an incompetent defense contractor" that is overseeing the 2010 census. The Commerce Department oversees the Census Bureau and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Bob Lohn, northwest administrator of NMFS, says the money will be made available over the next few months to fishermen who apply for assistance.
"Will the money be there when the people apply for it? The answer is yes," he told reporters on a conference call Wednesday.
Of the initial $100 million, about $63 million will go to California, $25 million to Oregon and $12 million to Washington state, officials said.