No helping hand for West Coast commercial fisherman

| Wed Jul. 5, 2006 3:25 PM EDT

First, West Coast fishermen lost 90 percent of their salmon season, which amounts to an estimated $81 million loss. Then lawmakers tried to get federal disaster assistance to help the industry survive. They received $2 million.

At the core of the fishermen's struggle is the protection of Klamath River Chinook salmon, whose numbers have plummeted due to low water flows, unusually warm water, parasites, and dams. Congressman Mike Thompson, (D-St. Helena), has been fighting for disaster assistance for California and Oregon in Congress. He holds the Bush administration is responsible for the loss of fish, and he finds it particularly galling that the government now refuses to declare the situation a disaster, let alone deal with it. Listen to an interview with Mike Thompson.

Duncan MacLean is a salmon troller working out of Half Moon Bay, California. The slashing of his season and disaster relief is threatening his livelihood. Listen to MacLean on his boat 5 miles off the coast collecting his crab gear.

Zeke Grader, Executive Director of Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Association (PCFFA) says the situation for fishermen this year is disastrous and will be continue to be so for years to come if the Klamath River doesn't get fixed. Listen to Zeke Grader here.

(You can read more about the Klamath in Mother Jones' 2003 article "What's a River For?" and about the fishermen's efforts to organize in protest here.

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