Posted on January 4, 2023
Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announce Senate passage of major investments for Oregon’s ports, waterways, and coastal, fishing, and tribal communities included in Congress’s fiscal year 2023 omnibus appropriations package. The legislation passed in the Senate and is expected to clear the House of Representatives this week before being signed into law by President Biden.
“As I hold a town hall for each of Oregon’s 36 counties every year, I hear from folks in every corner of the state about what matters most to them, including strengthening the sustainability, resiliency, and economy of our coastal communities,” Merkley said. “The funding package I championed makes significant, targeted investments in small ports and shipyards, boosts Pacific salmon and steelhead recovery, and supports our vital fishing industry, all while taking on the harmful impacts climate chaos is inflicting on our coastal communities. I am excited to see how these huge investments will boost the Oregon Coast for years to come.”
“The past three years of financial challenges triggered by fallout from the public health crisis, have revealed how crucial resilient, year-round economies are to our coastal communities,” Wyden said. “I am proud to support funding that will make significant investments in Oregon’s small ports, our state’s historic fishing industry and the stabilization of the iconic Pacific salmon and steelhead populations. Federal dollars are an important first step toward healing marine ecosystems from the harm done by the climate crisis, while also supporting our coastal communities getting a fair shot to compete in the global economy.”
Merkley is the only Oregon member of Congress from either chamber since Senator Mark Hatfield to serve on the Appropriations Committee, which wrote the bill and is considered to be one of the most powerful on Capitol Hill. He joined the committee in 2013 so that Oregon would have a strong voice in decisions about the investments our nation should be making.
Key elements for the Oregon Coast that Merkley and Wyden fought for in the funding bills include:
Small Ports and Army Corps Navigation: The program, which is vital source of funding to help Oregon ports pay for dredging and other necessary infrastructure projects, received over $352 million for deep-draft harbor and channel improvements, $36 million for inland waterways, $32 million for navigation maintenance, and $65 million for small, remote, or subsistence navigation.
Small Shipyards: The bill provides $20 million for assistance to small shipyards. This program supports small shipyards by providing grants that can be used for maritime workforce development efforts, to purchase equipment, or to improve shipyard infrastructure.
Salmon Recovery: The bill preserves $65 million for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund. Created in 2000, this fund is a competitive grant program designed to address declining Pacific salmon and steelhead populations by supporting conservation efforts in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska. The program is essential to preventing the extinction of the 28 listed salmon and steelhead species on the West Coast.
Sea Grant Program: The program received $80 million, a $4 million increase in support of the investment. The program, a priority for Oregon State University, uses targeted local investments to create economic growth, sustainable fisheries, and resilient coastal communities.
Ocean and Coastal Management and Services: The bill provides a total of $300 million for Ocean and Coastal Management and Services within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This funding will fund critical coastal services and programs such as: Coastal Zone Management Grants, National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund, the Coral Reef Program, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, and Sanctuaries and Marine Protected Areas.
Pacific Shellfish: The bill includes $2.5 million in federal funding for cutting-edge research to improve the productivity, sustainability, and resiliency of the Pacific shellfish agricultural system. This research is critical to efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate chaos on the health and economies of Oregon’s coastal communities.
Offshore Wind Dialogues: The bill directs the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to ensure appropriate engagement occurs with local communities and stakeholders in the Pacific Northwest as it considers floating offshore wind off the West Coast.
Maritime Environmental and Technical Assistance Program: The bill includes $6 million to promote the research, demonstration, and development of emerging technologies, practices, and processes that improve maritime industrial environmental sustainability.
Pacific Salmon Treaty: The bill includes $41 million for the Pacific States, Tribal Communities, and NOAA to continue activities in support of the obligations set forth in the renegotiated annex of the Pacific Salmon Treaty. The bill also provides $23 million for the operation and maintenance of Mitchell Act hatcheries, which are meant to produce salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River Basin.
Seafood Import Monitoring Program (SIMP): The bill provides a $1 million increase for the SIMP program. This program ensures illegal, unreported, and unregulated-caught and/or misrepresented seafood does not enter our marketplace.