$20.6M in Chinook Disaster Funds Goes to California

Chinook salmon. File photo.

An allocation of $20.6 million in federal fishery disaster funds is now earmarked to help California communities impacted by 2023 events in the Sacramento River Fall Chinook and Klamath River Fall Chinook ocean and inland salmon fisheries.

Congress provided the funds, which were announced Feb. 1 by Commerce Secretary Gina M. Raimondo, in the 2022 and 2023 Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Acts. A positive determination means the fisheries are eligible for appropriations to improve the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of impacted fisheries.

Funds may be used to assist impacted fishing communities, including commercial and recreational harvesters, charter businesses and subsistence users, the Commerce Department said.

Activities for which these funds can be considered include fishery-related infrastructure projects, habitat restoration, state-run vessel and fishing permit buybacks, job retraining and more.

Janet Coit, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries, said the agency appreciates the great concern such disasters cause the fishing industry and people who depend on these fisheries to support their communities. Some fishery-related businesses impacted by the disaster also may be eligible for assistance from the Small Business Administration.

On Dec. 29, 2022, Congress passed the Fishery Resource Disasters Improvement Act, which amended the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Since the disaster request for these fisheries was received after this date, it was evaluated under the amended statute.

NOAA Fisheries officials said they would work with the state of California over the coming months to administer the funds.