CDFW Seeks Public Input on $20.6 Million Salmon Disaster Relief Fund Allocation

The public is invited to submit comments on the draft spend plan through 5 p.m. on April 19, 2024, via email at [email protected]

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is seeking public input on the draft 2023 Salmon Disaster Spend Plan, which outlines the proposed allocation of $20,625,729 in federal disaster relief funds. The funds were allocated by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in response to the closure of California’s 2023 commercial and recreational ocean salmon seasons due to extremely low population estimates for Sacramento and Klamath River fall Chinook salmon.

The closure of the 2023 salmon season has had a significant impact on fishing communities and businesses throughout California. In response, Gov. Gavin Newsom requested a federal fishery disaster declaration, which was approved by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce on Oct. 30, 2023.

CDFW has developed a draft spend plan for the disaster relief funds, which includes proposed allocations to various fishing sectors, qualifying criteria, and individual payouts. The draft plan allocates $9,229,049 to commercial salmon trollers (harvesters), $4,245,541 to commercial fish processors, $4,791,327 to commercial passenger fishing vessels, $633,137 to in-river salmon guides, and $1,500,000 to hatchery production. The plan also includes $67,000 for the California Salmon Council and $206,051 for administrative costs.

The public is invited to submit comments on the draft spend plan through 5 p.m. on April 19, 2024, via email at [email protected]. CDFW is particularly interested in input on the proposed allocations of relief funding to fishing sectors, qualifying criteria, individual payouts, and other components of the plan.

Some members of the public, have suggested that the funds be allocated to Siskiyou County to assist in recovery from the disaster created by CDFW, KRRC, the Governor of California, FERC, PacifiCorp, and the State of Oregon. However, it is unclear whether this allocation would be consistent with the intended purpose of the federal disaster relief funds.

Following the public comment period, CDFW will finalize the spending plan for submission to the Department of Commerce. Looking ahead to the 2024 season, the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) will considered alternatives for the 2024 salmon seasons at its meeting on April 5-11 in Seattle. Although returns of Sacramento River fall Chinook salmon are higher than last year, they are still well below historic averages, and the Newsom Administration has indicated that it stands ready to seek additional federal fishery disaster assistance if needed.

Link to draft “2023 Salmon Disaster Spending Plan”

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