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Kodiak ComFish forums wrap up with Sen. Sullivan legislative update

Sen. Sullivan reiterated his support for the state’s salmon fisheries during his federal legislative update (Photo courtesy KMXT)

Sen. Dan Sullivan reiterated his support for the state’s salmon fisheries during his presentation on the final day of Kodiak’s annual commercial fishing trade show, ComFish, on Saturday.

Sullivan slammed a Washington state conservation group’s lawsuit seeking to close Southeast Alaska’s king salmon troll fishery as “outrageous.” Sullivan also touted the Alaska Salmon Research Task Force Act as progress on understanding declining salmon populations in western Alaska.

“It seeks to coordinate and fund federal research efforts on what is happening to our salmon,” he said. “There is much we don’t know about research with regard to salmon, particularly during the maritime part of their lifecycle.”

The federal legislation was sponsored by Sullivan and fellow Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and funds research for Alaska’s declining salmon populations in western Alaska. It was included in the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill signed into law late last year. Sullivan, a Republican, voted against the package, citing what he described at the time as a “dysfunctional process.”

The task force is still in its early phases, and is expected to have a final report out on its findings next year, according to NOAA.

Sullivan also highlighted a broad range of what he described as legislative wins for Alaska’s fishermen – including provisions in the Coast Guard Authorization Act, passed last year with Sullivan’s support – aimed at maritime safety.

He also said Alaska’s congressional delegation hoped to see funding for Alaska’s fishing industry included in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Bill reauthorization this year, but he did not say what farm bill funding for fishermen might look like.