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New legislation in Oregon gives fish to food banks

Governor John Kitzhaber recently signed House Bill 4068, which allows "bycatch," fish caught unintentionally while commercial fishing, to be donated to food banks.

“Finding solutions to hunger is critical," said Kitzhaber. The new legislation will help the fishing industry and food processors to reduce waste while bringing food to people who are hungry, he added.

In Oregon, the most common bycatch is salmon, caught while fishermen are fishing for whiting. The new law allows bycatch to be processed for food-bank distribution.

"This bill offers an innovative way for commercial fisheries, local fish processors, and the food bank network to get nutritious, protein-rich food to hungry families across Oregon. It's an excellent example of the important relationship between government, commercial businesses, and community-based organizations accomplishing more together than we ever could on our own,” said Gov. Kitzhaber.

“This legislation will provide an important source of rich protein and other nutrients to people in need,” said Jon Stubenvoll, director of advocacy, Oregon Food Bank. According OFB statistics, more than half million Oregonians live below the poverty rate. Currently 13% of Oregon's children have at least one unemployed parent, ranking the state third-worst nationally. OFB also has seen a growing number of those employed being unable to fully cover household expenses and needing food assistance at some time during the month.

State Rep. Deborah Boone, D-Cannon Beach, and State Sen. Chuck Thomsen, R-Hood River, sponsored the legislation.

“This was a bi-partisan bill,” said Boone. “It’s a good example of partnerships. Everyone gets a win out of this.”

“The need for emergency food just keeps getting greater,” said Thomsen. “I’m proud to put my name on this bill.”

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