Federal Disaster Aid Requested for South Sound Fishermen in Sockeye Cancellation

“Governor Gary Locke has requested federal disaster assistance to help tribal and non-tribal fishermen in Puget Sound counties begin to recover from the results of the closure of the sockeye salmon fishing season.The governor made his request after proclaiming a state of emergency in Pierce. Thurston, King, Snohomish, Skagit and Whatcom counties. Reports of economic damages in neighboring counties could expand his request for aid.Officials in those counties project widespread impacts on the fishing industry, as well as related businesses and individuals and families who depend on the fishing affected by the Pacific Salmon Commission’s cancellation of the 1999 Fraser River sockeye salmon season. The season was canceled after the Fraser River run was estimated to be the smallest since 1980 because of the poor sockeye survival rate created by ocean conditions during the 1997 El Nino.Locke’s emergency proclamation directs state government to support emergency response activity as needed, allowing state agencies to make extraordinary expenditures and use of resources. As federal disaster areas, the counties could receive aid for eligible business losses and adverse economic impacts to individuals and families.Locke also requested the U.S. Small Business Administration to declare an economic injury disaster in the same area because of the closure. He estimated the impact to the state’s economy to conservatively be estimated at $36 million, with a possible high of $63 million. Estimates indicate that treaty Indian and non-Indian commercial fishermen have lost over $9 million directly.”