NOAA Fisheries has appropriated more than $220 million in fisheries disaster funds appropriated by Congress in the Supplemental Disaster Relief Appropriations Act for fisheries disasters in Alaska and Washington.
including the 2020 Copper River/Prince William Sound pink salmon and coho fisheries.
For the 2020 Copper River/Prince William Sound salmon fisheries, the allocation totals $15.7 million, NOAA Fisheries said.
US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo announced the allocations on May 18, saying her agency would work with affected communities to help them recover. NOAA Fisheries used business revenue loss data to allocate these funds in eligible disaster areas.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang said his department will work with affected stakeholders to develop spending plans for each fishery.
Janet Coit, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries, said NOAA understands that these fishing disasters, some of which are related to climate change, are of great concern to the fishing industry and the communities that depend on fishing to support their economies. local and subsistence users.
Activities that may be considered for funding include fishing-related infrastructure projects, habitat restoration, buy-back of fishing permits and state vessels, job training, and more. Some fishing-related businesses affected by fishing disasters may also be eligible for assistance from the Small Business Administration.
While NOAA will work with states that receive disaster allocations, fishing communities and individuals affected by these disasters are encouraged to work with their state agencies and/or the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, as appropriate.
A decision on Alaska’s Yukon River salmon fisheries for 2020 is still pending, but Vincent-Lang said that given the number of fisheries affected, his department plans to host a virtual listening session to get input from all affected stakeholders.
“Meeting details for the virtual listening session will be released as soon as possible,” he said. Opportunities to comment on the draft plan will be provided before final plans are submitted for approval.
US Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, noted that the news of the disaster funding came at a time when several Alaskan fisheries are experiencing traumatic and devastating collapses.
“Our fisheries are vital to our state and nation, and this support will go toward important research and recovery efforts that can help anglers and fishing communities at this time,” he said. “Alaskans are resilient, we will get back on our feet.”
US Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, described the disaster funds as “good news that will ensure our fishermen can continue to responsibly harvest the world’s freshest and most sustainable seafood.”
On November 15, 2022, the Alaska delegation sent a letter to Raimondo in support of Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy’s 2020-2023 fisheries disaster declarations. Two days later, Senators Murkowski and Sullivan, along with Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, both D-WAs, sent another letter to Raimondo, requesting a federal disaster for several crab fisheries. Then, on December 16, 2022, the Department of Commerce determined that fishing disasters had occurred in numerous Alaskan fisheries, allowing funds to be distributed to fishermen and their crews, seafood processors, and research initiatives in the regions. where these disasters occurred.
US Rep. Mary Peltola, D-Alaska, said while these funds are a welcome step to provide some relief, all efforts must continue to restore the state’s fisheries.
“A new round of subsistence fishing closures have just been announced on the Yukon River, marking the fourth year in a row that subsistence fishermen have been unable to put nets in the water for chum salmon,” Peltola said. “This is a crisis that threatens both the food security of many peoples and our cultural heritage. Disaster relief funding for specific fisheries alone is not enough, we need action on a large scale.”
Jamie Goen, CEO of Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, noted the continued impact of crab fishery closures on fishing families and the economy of coastal communities. She said the efforts to date by the Commerce Department and Congress have been helpful, as crabbers plan to build a more resilient crab fishery in the future.
“These funds can help us get there,” Goen said.
In addition to the $15.7 million that will go towards the 2020 Copper River/Prince William Sound Salmon Fisheries, funds allocated in this latest fisheries disaster relief effort also include:
- $15,746.103 for the 2021 Kuskokwim River and 2021 Norton Sound salmon fisheries;
- $1,269,586 for the 2021 Chignik salmon fishery;
- $4,994,897 for the 2020 and 2021 Norton Sound red king crab fisheries;
- $2,807,021 for the 2020/2021 Bering Sea crab fisheries;
- $94,584,310 for the 2021/2022 Bering Sea crab fisheries;
- and $96,718,184 for the 2022/2023 Bering Sea crab fisheries.