Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Federal Disaster Relief Funds Granted for Alaska Fisheries

Commercial fishermen in Alaska affected by the 2012 salmon fisheries disaster for Yukon Chinook, Kuskokwim Chinook and Cook Inlet salmon will share in $7.8 million in grants announced this week by NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region.

The award includes direct payments to commercial fishermen, and breaks out as $3.2 million for the Yukon-Kuskokwim region and $4.6 million for the Cook Inlet region.

Jim Balsiger, Alaska’s regional administrator for the agency, said that their first priority has been to get those dollars directly into the hands of fishermen impacted by those fisheries failures. “Approval of the grant application for direct assistance means that will happen very soon,” he said. Applications to impacted fishermen are going out in the mail.

The estimated number of permit holders likely to participate include 631 harvesters for the Yukon River, 489 harvesters for the Kuskokwim River, 443 East Side Cook Inlet set netters, and 96 harvesters in the northern district of Cook Inlet. The highest direct payments, an estimated $4,952, are expected to go to Yukon River harvesters.

Funds are being distributed through the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission in Portland, Oregon, one of three interstate commissions established by Congress back in 1947 to manage and conserve marine resources in state and federal waters.

For the remaining funds, some $13 million, the Pacific states Marine Fisheries Commission is developing a second grant proposal based on spend plans provided to National Marine Fisheries service by representative groups identified by the state of Alaska and the Alaska congressional delegation. The second grant is anticipated to be awarded in coming months.

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