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West Coast a 'Disastor Zone' says Federal Agency

US - Federal authorities have declared the West Coast ocean salmon fishery a failure. This has opened the way for Congress to appropriate economic disaster assistance for coastal communities in California, Oregon and Washington.

Jim Balsiger, acting administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Marine Fisheries Service, ammouned the declaration in Portland, Oregan. He said this was a very bleak year for West Coast Fishermen.

The agency in charge of ocean fishing estimated that the value of this year's lost catch was $22 million — 90 percent of the five-year average — not including direct income losses to sport and commercial fishing boats, processors, bait shops and other related businesses at $60 million in the three states.

The governors of Washington, Oregon and California, who requested the declaration, have estimated that sum rises to $290 million as it ripples through the economy. California is seeking $208 million, Oregon $45 million and Washington $36 million.

The Sacramento chinook runs are the backbone of commercial fisheries off California and Oregon, where the Pacific Fishery Management Council last month recommended the first-ever total shutdown in ocean salmon fishing.

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