State receives disaster relief for pink salmon crash

  • By Juneau Empire
  • Thursday, June 21, 2018 6:10pm
  • News
A male pink salmon fights its way up stream to spawn in a Southeast Alaska stream in August 2010.

A male pink salmon fights its way up stream to spawn in a Southeast Alaska stream in August 2010.

Alaska will receive more than $56 million in disaster relief for groups affected by the 2016 pink salmon failure in the Gulf of Alaska. The money heading to Alaska represents more than a quarter of the $200 million U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross allocated to the nation’s struggling fisheries in a spending bill.

Gov. Bill Walker requested the funds in a Sept. 2016 letter to then-Secretary Penny Pritzker after pink salmon runs around Alaska dipped dramatically. Runs across the state hit historic lows that year, and in Southeast, revenue from pink salmon dropped 51 percent below a five-year average, according to staffers for Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, whose office lobbied to include Southeast Alaska in the funding request.

Walker announced the relief funds in a Thursday press release.

“Coastal communities have been hurting, and $56 million dollars will go a long way to help the hard-working and resilient Alaskans whose livelihoods and lifestyles depend on fish,” Walker said.

Some of that money will come to Southeast. Nine fisheries in Alaska, Washington, California and Oregon as well as fisheries in the Gulf of Mexico will receive funds.

The State of Alaska is working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association and stakeholders to develop criteria for disbursement of funds, according to the release. NOAA fisheries will provide more information at a later date regarding how to apply for funds through non-competitive awards. The funds can cover a wide range of entities, including commercial fisheries, seafood processors and support facilities, as well as communities affected by the disaster.

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