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Letter to Gary Locke, Secretary U.S Department of Commerce

Location: Washington, DC

Dear Secretary Locke:

We are very concerned about the projected low returns of fall run Chinook salmon to the Sacramento River system and request your immediate personal attention to this issue.

The 2006 commercial salmon fishing season collapsed due to poor Chinook salmon returns on the Klamath River. The 2008 commercial salmon season was even worse than 2006 because of near record low returns of salmon on the Sacramento River, and preliminary reports from the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) predict another very poor return of Sacramento fall Chinook for 2009.

Sacramento River salmon are caught in California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia and are considered the ‘driver' of commercial salmon fisheries off the Pacific Coast. The unprecedented collapse of the Sacramento River Chinook salmon stocks is devastating to the commercial salmon fishing fleet and related businesses along the entire west coast of the continental United States.

For 2008, NOAA estimated that the loss of the commercial and recreational harvest would result in a $60 million loss in personal income, not including the additional impact to the retail sector, including equipment to processors, boat repair and sales. South of Cape Falcon, a complete closure of the commercial fishing season will result in a $21 million loss in commercial ex-vessel revenues alone.

It is important that the Department take immediate steps to help fishers and local communities that depend on the commercial and recreational salmon fishing industry. Specifically, now that the Pacific Fisheries Management Council has made its recommendation for the 2009 ocean salmon season we request you move quickly to provide an extension of the 2008 disaster so that the unspent money from last year's appropriation can be distributed expeditiously.

In addition, we ask that when you make your determination of how the remaining funds are to be distributed that those decisions are not based upon last year's request, but that the money is reallocated between the affected states based on current need so that all communities that rely on the salmon season receive some disaster assistance.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to your response and stand ready to assist in any way.



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