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Begich Helps Secure Yukon Fishery Disaster Funding

After prompting the federal government to declare a western Alaska fisheries disaster in January, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today helped persuade the Senate Appropriations Committee to fund disaster assistance for the region. The Committee agreed to put $5 million in the 2010 supplemental appropriations bill to help Yukon River fishing families recovering from two years of failed Chinook salmon runs.

"Western Alaska fishing families were especially hard hit by the salmon crash in 2008 and 2009 and sorely need assistance to feed their families and pay for fishing gear," Begich said. "I was pleased to work with senators on both sides of the aisle to secure this funding."

Begich today hand-delivered a written request for the funding to Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski, chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, and met with Mikulski to discuss the request. Begich also commended Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski for her work as an Appropriations Committee member for the funding.

In January, during a visit to Alaska hosted by Sen. Begich, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke issued a Disaster Declaration for the Yukon River Chinook salmon fishery for 2008 and 2009. The declaration followed a May 2009 letter from the Alaska Delegation and a June 2009 letter from Sen. Begich to Locke requesting the declaration.

The funding still needs to be approved by the full Senate and the House.

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