In response to poor coho salmon returns in 2015 and 2016 and the resulting limitations that were placed on recreational and commercial fisheries, Congress approved $1.5 million in disaster relief funding for Washington. The funds, which are part of a larger disaster relief package, were intended to address a broad range of disasters nationwide.
The state of Washington acknowledges that multiple individuals and entities made significant investments in the salmon fishery and were affected by these fisheries disasters. However, there are limited funds available to offset the economic loss. As such, there is a need to strike a balance between distributing funds to all parties that may have been affected and ensuring those who rely more on salmon fisheries as a primary source of income receive some relief.
In general, Washington supports using fisheries disaster funds to help foster sustainable fisheries and communities for the long-term. In areas where habitat is a limiting factor or was adversely affected by the disaster, habitat restoration projects would be a priority for these funds. However, as the 2015 and 2016 Washington salmon disasters resulted from changing ocean conditions and anomalous warm water events, there is not much the state can do with the limited funds available to address these environmental factors. Therefore, the state supports using these funds to provide payments to commercial fishery and charter license holders who were economically dependent on salmon fisheries as a primary source of income up to the time of the fisheries disasters.
Fisheries Disaster Funding Administration
The Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC) is administering the funds for the Washington salmon fisheries disasters in 2015 and 2016. PSMFC sent application forms to license owners who meet the qualifying criteria described below, and will distribute the funds to qualified applicants, as appropriate.
More information is can be found on the PSMFC website
Questions regarding the fisheries disaster funds can be directed to PSMFC at: 1-877-695-3457
Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor Salmon Disaster in 2015
Due to the coho salmon disaster in 2015, $702,529 of federal disaster relief has been designated for Willapa Bay and Grays Harbor salmon gillnet license owners who meet the qualifying criteria:
Ocean Troll and Ocean Charter Salmon Disaster in 2016
In addition, in response to the 2016 coho salmon disaster, $829,395 of federal disaster relief has been designated for Washington ocean salmon troll and ocean salmon charter license owners who meet the qualifying criteria:
These funds are viewed as a partial payment towards the disaster. If additional funds become available, then others, such as charter offices and Puget Sound salmon charter license owners, could be eligible.