Triplicate staff

The Pacific State Marine Fisheries Commission will distribute $60.4 million in salmon relief money this summer to fishermen, tribes and businesses impacted by last year's salmon disaster, with some of the dollars coming to Del Norte County.

Due to low return numbers of declining chinook salmon populations to the Klamath River, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council cut the ocean fishing seasons in 2005 and 2006. The loss has cost fishermen more than $60 million. Congress approved relief funds last month, part of a $120 billion war funding bill.

The Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission must submit a report, expected next week, to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Fisheries Service on the process for distributing the money. California and Oregon state government officials will determine which individuals, tribes and businesses receive money, according to NOAA Fisheries Service Director Bill Hogarth.

The service will take up to two months to review the commission's proposal, then release the money to the commission for distribution.

andquot;North Coast residents struck by our country's largest salmon disaster desperately need this money to get back on their feet,andquot; said Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., whose First District stretches along the coast from the Oregon border to the Bay Area. andquot;We still have a lot of work to do to restore the Klamath River Basin, but today we've taken a large step toward helping our salmon industry recover from last year's disastrous season.andquot;