National Fisherman

Mixed Catch 

jerryJerry Fraser is NF's publisher and former editor.



All disasters aren't created equal in the White House's eyes.

Consider the West Coast salmon disaster, which this year left the region's troll fishermen without a commercial season. West Coast governors petitioned for a federal fisheries disaster declaration, which came in May.

In July Congress appropriated $170 million in federal disaster relief money that would be paid to trollers and related businesses affected by the salmon closure. It took until mid-September for the money to be released. Well, some of it.

You see, NOAA announced in mid-September that it was releasing $100 million of the aid package. The agency says the remaining $70 million will be disbursed later in the year as the $100 million is spent.

This irked 12 West Coast Congressmen, who quickly sent a letter to President Bush, voicing their displeasure. They say the administration appears to be trying to withhold the remaining $70 million to pay for cost overruns associated with conducting the 2010 federal census.

"To us, the fact that [the White House Office of Management and Budget] is withholding $70 million, when it proposed in June to reprogram this exact same amount to pay for the administration's mistakes with its census contract, smacks of political gamesmanship," the letter states.

Whether the letter gets the remaining money released remains to be seen. Why these particular dollars are being held back is a head-scratcher. The administration isn't hesitating to spend billions to bail out Wall Street's economic disaster.

OMB projected in February that the country's federal deficit will total $410 billion at the end of fiscal year 2008. Clearly the administration isn't afraid to spend money. So why is it sweating $70 million for West Coast fishermen who really need the money?

Inside the Industry

NMFS has awarded 16 grants totaling more than $2.5 million as part of its Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program.

The program supports the development of technological solutions and changes in fishing practices designed to minimize bycatch and aims to to find creative approaches and strategies for reducing bycatch, seabird interactions, and post-release mortality in federally managed fisheries.


Abe Williams, who was elected to the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association board last spring, has been selected as the new president as of September.

Williams fishes the F/V Crimson Fury, and is president of Nuna Resources, a nonprofit that supports sustainable resource development in rural Alaska, including fighting for an international solution to issues raised by the proposed Pebble Mine project.

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