Friday, May 25, 2007

War Bill Helps Salmon Fishermen

Looks like the help they have been seeking for some time is close at hand.

Salmon fishing disaster aid is at hand
By David Whitney - Bee Washington Bureau
Published 12:00 am PDT Friday, May 25, 2007

Congress will soon send President Bush a funding bill for the Iraq war that also will deliver $60.4 million in disaster assistance that desperate West Coast salmon fishermen have been seeking for nearly a year.

This time it looks like they will get it.

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, a leading House advocate for the disaster money, said Thursday that the spending bill presents "the best chance so far" for the money being disbursed.

The relief comes after closure of almost all the commercial salmon season last year off the coasts of Oregon and California.

The closure was necessary to protect poor runs in the Klamath River after massive fish kills in 2002 and 2003, which critics blamed on federal agricultural water policy in the Upper Klamath basin on the Oregon-California border. Progeny of those fish would have spawned the 2005 and 2006 runs.

Last year's commercial harvest was slashed to 88 percent of normal, idling commercial boats from Portland, Ore., to California's central coast, and emptying California's North Coast resorts and other businesses that depend on a sport fishery.