Disaster declarations approved for Alaska fisheries
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo announced Friday, 21 January, 2022, her office has approved disaster declarations for eight Alaska fisheries.
The rulings means those fisheries are now eligible to federal assistance through NOAA. No funding total was mentioned in the NOAA release, with the amounts to be determined at a later date.
“Helping communities to bounce back from the impacts of fishery disasters is essential, and we are working to ensure there is relief coming for impacted Alaskans,” Raimondo said in a statement. “Disasters like these, which impact multiple fisheries across Alaska, illustrate how vital sustainable fisheries are to our economy at not only the local level, but for the economic health of our nation’s blue economy.”
The eight disasters occurred between 2018 and 2021 and involved several species.
Those designated include the Upper Cook Inlet East Side set net and Copper River chinook and sockeye salmon fisheries for 2018, the Eastern Bering Sea tanner crab fishery was designated for 2019-2020, and the Yukon River salmon fishery in 2021.
The Upper Cook Inlet salmon fishery, along with the Prince William Sound salmon fisheries; the Copper River chinook, sockeye, and chum salmon fisheries; the Gulf of Alaska Pacific cod fishery; and the Alaska Norton Sound, Yukon River, Chignik, Kuskokwin River, and Southeast Alaska salmon fisheries were all declared disasters for 2020.
In an 8 March, 2021, letter to Raimondo, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy attributed several of the disasters to heatwaves in 2018 and 2019 in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea.
“These marine heatwaves likely contributed to continued low abundance and poor marine survival of salmon and Pacific cod in the Gulf of Alaska and northern Bering Sea,” he wrote. “Environmental impacts likely play a role in the distribution, growth rate, and natural mortality of tanner crab as well.”
Besides help from NOAA, some businesses involved in those fisheries may also be eligible for aid from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Photo courtesy of Todd Blaisdell/National Fisherman