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WASHINGTON STATE DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT: GOVERNOR REQUESTS FEDERAL ASSISTANCE FOR WHATCOM FISHING INDUSTRY

 OLYMPIA, Wash., Feb. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- Gov. Mike Lowry has asked the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to make its disaster loan program available to victims of the El Nino weather phenomenon in the Whatcom County fishing industry, the Washington State Department of Community Development said today.
 The governor's request cited economic losses suffered by the Lummi and Nooksack Indian Tribes and related Whatcom businesses during 1992. The Lummi's catch of Sockeye salmon last year was only 32 percent of the average for the previous three years, representing a $2.6 million loss. The Swinomish Indian Tribe also has submitted similar documentation to request assistance for fishing losses.
 Former Gov. Booth Gardner made a similar request in November for El Nino fishing losses suffered by the Makah Indian Tribe. SBA subsequently approved the request, making disaster loans available to related businesses in Clallam and Jefferson counties.
 Identified over the last decade as a variable weather condition of the Pacific Ocean, El Nino displaced cold water currents with warm water currents last year, diverting the annual Fraser River salmon run away from the Lummi's and Nooksack's usual fishing area in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Instead, a significant proportion of the salmon returned to their spawning grounds around the northern end of Vancouver Island to avoid the warmer currents.
 If granted, the SBA program would provide loans at 4-percent interest to qualifying business owners. The loans are available to businesses that meet the following criteria: 1) the business suffered an economic loss due to El Nino; 2) a portion or all of the loss is uninsured; and 3) the business is unable to obtain credit elsewhere.
 Fishermen and other small businesses in Whatcom County would be able to apply for the low-interest loans, as well as fishermen and businesses from the adjacent counties of Skagit and Okanogan. For information, call the Small Business Administration toll free at 800-488-5323.
 -0- 2/3/93
 /CONTACT: Mark Stewart or Mark Clemens of the Washington State Department of Community Development, 206-438-7737/


CO: Washington State Department of Community Development; U.S. Small
 Business Administration ST: Washington IN: SU:


LM -- SE003 -- 2520 02/03/93 14:58 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Feb 3, 1993
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