Idaho Fisheries Disaster Declaration
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To The Honorable:
Dan G. Johnson
Paul E. Shepherd
Idaho Fisheries Disaster Declaration
This letter is to inform you on the on-going fisheries disasters in the State of Idaho and to create a call to action.
As you may have heard, Idaho has had a rough year in regards to the returning adult Salmon and Steelhead to local streams and rivers. In fact, this year the State has implemented closures on some or all of their rivers to protect the future generations of Salmon and Steelhead. This Spring, Chinook fishing on the Clearwater was closed after a short opener and most recently the entire State has seen drastic regulatory measures on all of its Steelhead rivers.
There are numerous causes that led to the failing returns of adult anadromous fish to Idaho. First, this is the initial return of fish spawned during the drought the Western United States suffered in 2014 and 2015. The drought caused a domino effect all the way to the ocean. Inadequate water flows left the smolt trapped behind the 8 dams on the Snake and Columbia River system which also gave way to dangerous water temperature levels that killed many of these smolt. Once the surviving smolt made it to the ocean, there was a phenomenon in the ocean called “the blob.” The blob refers to a warm mass of water (6 degrees warmer than normal) that made its way north, well into Alaskan waters. This caused bait fish (fish that the smolt and adult anadromous fish feed on) to die off and it also brought warm-water predator fish into northern waters that ultimately gorged themselves on bounds of smolt, juvenile, and adult Salmon and Steelhead.
Hotels, gas stations, tackle stores, fishing guides, boat manufactures, etc, have taken substantial losses to their businesses this year and it looks to continue well into next year. According to a study by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game in 2011, the Salmon and Steelhead sport fishing industry brings in roughly $100 million dollars to the Clearwater Region annually. This accounts for the Clearwater, Snake, and Salmon Rivers and their communities. This year Idaho and its citizens have lost a substantial amount of this revenue. Many of these communities such as Lewiston, Orofino, Kooskia, Kamiah, and Riggins rely significantly on these fisheries to drive their economies.
Fortunately, there is Federal disaster money allocated for such events. Our neighboring states of Washington and Oregon have applied for this assistance both in past events and during this current disaster. I am calling on you, as a Legislative representative in the effected districts, to apply for such relief.
Fisheries Disaster Relief is provided through NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and is defined in the following two Acts:
The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act and the Interjurisdictional Fisheries Act. Under both statutes, a state governor or an elected or duly appointed representative of an affected fishing community can request a fishery disaster determination from the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary). The Secretary may also initiate a review. If the Secretary determines that a fishery disaster has occurred, the fishery is eligible for disaster assistance subject to appropriation of funds by Congress.
Everything you need to know about the NOAA Disaster Relief can be found on their website http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/management/disaster/index.html
This is an issue that cannot be overlooked. As citizens of these effected communities we are fully prepared to take all action to get the aid we need.
Thank you for your time.
Signed by all those effected
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