Wednesday, May 1, 2013

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.

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