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Oregon's commercial salmon industry seeks federal disaster relief


After several difficult years for the salmon industry in Oregon, Governor Kate Brown has asked the US Department of Commerce for federal disaster relief for fishermen.

Since 2018, there has been diminishing profits on salmon for commercial fishermen.

The value of Oregon’s salmon catch was as high as 14 million dollars in 2014. In 2020, that number fell to one and a half million dollars, according to Oregon representative David Gomberg.

Nancy Fitzpatrick is the executive director of the Oregon salmon commission. She says that without Oregon’s local fishermen, consumers will have to turn to foreign sources of seafood.

“If you’re importing seafood, what guarantees do you have of the sustainability and quality of the seafood?” says Fitzpatrick. “Whereas here in the US we are managed to be sustainable and for producing quality. So, it would be a shame if we can't harvest our own fish and have to import it.”

This isn’t the first disaster request from the Oregon salmon industry; funds were requested in 2006, 2008 and 2009. Oregon's salmon populations have been under threat because of climate change, drought and water quality problems.

The request for relief funding was initiated by the Oregon Salmon Commission. If approved by the US Department of Commerce and the situation is classified as a disaster, the request will then move on to Congress to appropriate funds.

Sophia Prince is a reporter and producer for JPR News. She began as JPR’s 2021 summer intern through the Charles Snowden Program for Excellence in Journalism. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a BA in journalism and international studies.