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Alaska Fisheries Report May 12, 2022

salmon in tote
salmon in tote

On this week’s Alaska Fisheries Report with Terry Haines: The Alaska Department of Fish and Game takes testimony on how federal fishery disaster money should be spent, and Yukon/Kuskokwim residents have plenty to say:

Disaster Funds      Kirsten Dobroth  KMXT

More than $130 million [web: $131.8 million] in federal relief money is heading to Alaska communities impacted by more than a dozen fishery disasters between 2018 and 2021. That’s according to an announcement on Thursday (5/5) from Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game. The funds were approved by Congress and allocated by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

But that’s a fraction of the money lost by the state’s fishing communities. Karla Bush is a program manager with Fish and Game.

“You know, across the board here it looks like compared to the estimated losses from these disasters the funding that was provided makes up about 60 to 70% of those losses.”

Bush says the department hopes to publish a preliminary spending plan for the money next month.

Fourteen fisheries in Alaska were approved as disasters by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce back in January. Those included salmon fisheries from the Yukon River to Prince William Sound and the Eastern Bering Sea Tanner crab fishery. The Gulf of Alaska’s 2020 cod fishery also received a disaster designation. That was the year most of the fishery disasters occured [web: – with several also happening in 2018 and one as recently as 2021.]

The 2019 Alaska Norton Sound king crab fishery will also receive relief money – it was approved as a disaster by the Commerce Secretary last summer [web: in June of 2021].

Fish and Game held a listening session on Wednesday (May 11) for public input on how the latest disaster money should be spent. Members of the public can also email comments to the department.

The fishery relief funding list for Alaska communities encompasses:

  • 2019 Norton Sound Red king crab fishery: $1,433,137
  • 2020 Norton Sound, Yukon River, Kuskokwim River, Chignik, and Southeast Alaska salmon fisheries, and 2021 Yukon River salmon fishery: $55,928,849
  • 2018 Upper Cook Inlet East Side Set Net and 2020 Upper Cook Inlet salmon fisheries: $9,404,672
  • 2018 and 2020 Copper River and Prince William Sound salmon fisheries: $34,326,265
  • 2019/2020 Eastern Bering Sea Tanner crab fishery: $12,935,199
  • 2020 Gulf of Alaska Pacific cod fishery: $17,772,540]

Previous Alaska fishery disaster spend plans have provided funds for two general categories: research and direct payments to affected fishery participants such as harvesters, processors, communities, and households. To assist in development of the spend plans for the six recent fishery disasters, the State is requesting comments on:

  • categories of affected fishery participants to receive direct payments,
  • eligibility criteria for direct payments,
  • how to allocate funds among the categories of fishery participants,
  • how to allocate funds among fisheries if several areas or years are included in the fishery disaster; and
  • recommendations for research priorities.

— See the NOAA Fisheries web site for additional information on fishery disaster assistance:

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