SALEM, ORE. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez on Thursday declared commercial salmon fishing a failure off Oregon and California this year, enabling the states to seek federal aid.
The harvest was cut back sharply by a regional council to help raise numbers of chinook salmon in the Klamath River.
Gutierrez's formal declaration under federal fisheries law is the first since 1992 to come before the end of the fishing season, which runs from spring to fall.
Officials have said they may seek as much as $80 million in aid to fishers, processors and other parties, as well as research and habitat restoration.
The Commerce Department has estimated that fishers alone stand to lose $16 million.