Cantwell Calls for Preserving Key Fisheries Programs in Federal Budget

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D- WA, is urging the US Senate Committee on
Appropriations to keep in place three programs vital to Washington State’s $1.6
billion commercial fishing industry and $10.8 billion coastal economy.

They include ocean acidification monitoring systems, fishing vessel
safety research and salmon recovery initiatives. The Obama Administration’s
fiscal year 2014 budget proposal seeks a 23 percent cut in salmon recovery
investments and eliminated the fishing safety research program.

Cantwell and a bipartisan coalition of six senators are urging the
committee to support the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund and National
Marine Fisheries Service Pacific salmon management program. The Obama
Administration’s fiscal 2014 budget proposal contained $27 million in cuts to
these programs, including a $15 million decrease in the Pacific Coastal Salmon
Recovery Fund.

The senators said that the PCSRF supports the conservation and recovery
of Pacific salmon across the rivers, watersheds, and coastal habitats they
thrive in throughout Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Nevada and California.
“Over the past 10 years, NMFS, states, tribes, and local project managers have
developed an integrated approach to track progress, measure performance, and
ensure accountability of the PCSRF program,” they said. “Today, over 920,000
acres of essential fish habitat have been restored and over 7,100 miles of
stream have been opened for fish passage.”

Cantwell also noted that a 2010 Washington State Department of Fish and
Wildlife study found that commercial fisheries, after processing and
distributing their stocks, contributed $1.6 billion to the local economy.

The senators also supported continuation of the National Institute for
Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) fishing safety research program, which
has played a critical role in saving lives of fish harvesters at sea. NIOSH has
worked closely with the US Coast Guard, fishing industry and safety equipment
manufacturers to identify and study the causes of fishing-related deaths. Among
the most visible of NIOSH efforts have been a campaign to improve personal
floatation devices and encourage fish harvesters to always wear them on board
vessels, and development of “man overboard” training materials.