Sen. Jeff Merkley

Sen. Jeff Merkley

Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley is leading members of the Oregon delegation, including U.S. Senator Ron Wyden and U.S. Representatives Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader and Suzanne Bonamici, in urging the U.S. Department of Commerce to grant a catastrophic regional fishery disaster declaration for the state of Oregon, after three consecutive years of drought and changing ocean conditions have severely harmed salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest.

“The value of salmon to Oregon cannot be overstated. In addition to the economic activity generated by this industry, salmon are an important part of the cultural heritage of Pacific Northwest tribes, generate recreational activity, and are a treasured natural resource across the state,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “However, the challenging impacts of climate change, increased drought, and changing ocean conditions complicate the recovery of salmon populations in the Pacific Northwest.”

From 2013 to 2017, the commercial value of Chinook salmon was around $6.3 million annually for Oregon fisheries. But with the impacts of climate chaos impacting salmon populations, the economic value has dropped precipitously — down to $2.3 million in 2018, $2 million in 2019 and $1.4 million in 2020.

“Federal support for this industry is critical while local, state, and federal partners continue to work toward long-term solutions,” the delegation wrote.

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