U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA) successfully added $20 million for fishery disasters relief in Washington state to a key House Appropriations Bill on Thursday.
The U.S. Department of Commerce in January issued multiple fishery disaster declarations in Washington state, at the urging of Kilmer, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) and others.
The commercial fishery failures impacted communities along much of the Washington coast. The Commerce disaster declaration cleared the way for additional resources to be provided to the communities affected by the poor seasons, but up to this point no funding had been approved by Congress.
“This investment mean jobs,” said Kilmer. “Declines in salmon runs have impacted our communities, everyone from the worker at the bait and tackle shop to the folks running a boat. Now, we are taking concrete steps to actually get the resources our region needs to restore our runs and keep the economy moving forward.”
The disaster declarations the members previously pushed for included the 2015-16 Quileute Tribe Dungeness crab, 2015 Grays Harbor and Willapa Bay coho salmon, and 2015 Quinault Indian Nation Grays Harbor coho salmon fisheries.
The U.S House of Representatives has yet to put together a budget, so this appropriations bill joins a long list of others that are waiting for action.
“However, this is the first time funding was successfully included, so we hope to get some more momentum for getting dollars (to the impacted communities),” said Kilmer’s Communications Director Jason Phelps.
“A lot of hardworking folks along our coastal communities have been impacted by the fishery disasters — fishing guides, commercial and charter fleets, resorts, and other local businesses that depend on a healthy fishing industry,” said Herrera Beutler. “It’s important that we assist communities where livelihoods rely on our fisheries when a disaster is declared.”
The commercial and recreational fishing industry in Washington state alone supports more than 67,000 jobs and contributes more than $300 million in revenue. The fishing and processing industry in Pacific County contributes more than$150,000,000 to the local economy. In Grays Harbor County, the 2015 landing for Westport totaled more than 80 million pounds and was valued at roughly $65 million.