Huffman, Padilla Lead Call for Administration to Declare Emergency

Letter Highlights Urgent Need to Get Aid to Californians Impacted by Salmon Season Closure

April 18, 2024

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) and U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-CA) led 19 of their colleagues in an urgent letter to President Joe Biden and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo calling for them to swiftly declare a federal fishery disaster, joining California Governor Gavin Newsom in his request. This follows the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s stark recommendation to implement a complete closure of California’s commercial and recreational ocean salmon season for the second consecutive year, expected to take effect in May 2024. If granted, the relief would provide necessary assistance for communities grappling with the challenges of the ongoing crisis.

“The unprecedented back-to-back closures of the entire California salmon fishery is a devastating crisis. It remains unclear how long the salmon fishery will need to be closed, and we know there is much work ahead of us. The long-term solutions will include improving our drought resiliency, restoring salmon habitat, and of course, addressing the climate crisis. We look forward to continuing our work with your administration on these goals,” the members said in their letter.

“However, Californians who depend on the fishery, and are still trying to recover from last season’s closure, have no time to wait for these long-term objectives to be achieved. A federal fishery disaster declaration will help our commercial and charter fisheries, tribes, and communities survive the difficult times ahead,” the members concluded.

In April 2023, Huffman, Padilla, and Panetta led their colleagues in an urgent letter to President Joe Biden and Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, calling for them to swiftly declare a federal fishery disaster for the 2023 salmon season. Earlier that month, Rep. Huffman held a press conference with Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi, Representative Kevin Mullin, and fishing industry stakeholders to call attention to this disaster and highlight the people who will bear the brunt of the impacts of closing the salmon season. In addition to regular engagement with NOAA, Rep. Huffman held a call directly with NOAA Administrator Dr. Rick Spinrad to continue the pressure and encourage him to prompt action.

As part of his long-standing efforts to improve disaster relief for fisheries, Congressman Huffman was able to help secure an additional $300 million for fishery disaster declarations Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations bill. Congress also authorized new bipartisan fishery disaster relief language based on Congressman Jared Huffman and Senator Roger Wicker’s Fishery Resource Disasters Improvement Act. This language streamlines the process for declaring a federal fishery disaster and helps to quickly provide relief to affected communities. It also extends eligibility for federal fishery disaster funds not only to commercial fisheries, but also to charter fishing businesses and impacted tribes.

In addition to Representative Huffman and Senator Padilla, the letter was signed by Senator Laphonza Butler (D-CA) and Representatives Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Ami Bera (CA-06), Salud Carbajal (CA-24), Jim Costa (CA-21), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-10), Anna Eshoo (CA-16), John Garamendi (CA-08), Josh Harder (CA-09), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (CA-37), Zoe Lofgren (CA-18), Doris Matsui (CA-07), Kevin Mullin (CA-15), Jimmy Panetta (CA-19), Nancy Pelosi (CA-11), Katie Porter (CA-47), Raul Ruiz (CA-25), Eric Swalwell (CA-14), and Mike Thompson (CA-04).

A full copy of the letter can be found here.