Dear Madame Secretary:
We write to urge you to expeditiously approve Governor Brown's request for a catastrophic regional fishery disaster declaration for the State of Oregon ocean commercial salmon fisheries for 2018, 2019, and 2020. The commercial salmon fishery is of critical importance to our state, generating income for commercial fishermen and economic activity for rural communities along Oregon's coastline. Federal aid is urgently needed to mitigate the negative impacts of three consecutive years of steep declines in revenue generated by this fishery and provide support to these economically distressed communities.
In 2018, 2019, and 2020, the commercial ex-vessel value of Chinook was $2.3 million, $2.0 million, and $1.4 million respectively. This is a significant decrease from the average 2013-2017 value of $6.3 million. The value of salmon to Oregon cannot be overstated. In addition to the economic activity generated by this industry, salmon are an important part of the cultural heritage of Pacific Northwest tribes, generate recreational activity, and are a treasured natural resource across the state. However, the challenging impacts of climate change, increased drought, and changing ocean conditions complicate the recovery of salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest. Federal support for this industry is critical while local, state, and federal partners continue to work toward long-term solutions.
Thank you for your prompt attention to Governor Brown's request for a fishery disaster declaration. We look forward to your response and our offices stand ready to assist in any way.