More than $200M in Federal Disaster Relief for Crab and Salmon Fisheries
Alaska fishing communities that have struggled through economic disasters in the last few years have some federal relief funding to spread around. The US Department of Commerce has allocated nearly $216 million to benefit crab and salmon fishermen, their crews, and seafood processors.
Keeping Boats Afloat
In December, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo announced that several crab and salmon fisheries met the requirements for disaster determinations, allowing the funding to be distributed this month.
The amounts are as follows:
$96.7 million for the 2021/2022 Bristol Bay red king crab and Bering Sea snow crab fisheries;
$94.6 million for the 2020/2021 Norton Sound red king crab fisheries;
$15.7 million for the 2021 Kuskokwim River salmon and Norton Sound chum and coho salmon fisheries;
$4.9 million for the 2022/2023 Bristol Bay red king crab and Bering Sea snow crab fisheries.
$2.8 million for the 2020 Copper River/Prince William Sound coho and pink salmon fisheries;
and $1.3 million for the 2021 Chignik salmon fisheries.
“Several of Alaska’s iconic crab fisheries are in crisis from closed fisheries severely affecting hard working fishermen, second- and third-generation family fishing businesses, and coastal communities,” says Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers executive director Jamie Goen. “Crabbers appreciate the work the Secretary of Commerce and Congress have recently done to speed up the fishery disaster process and to allocate these funds. It helps to reduce the loss of our fleet and skilled fishermen and to reduce the economic harm to processors and crab-dependent communities.”
In addition to direct relief, Senator Lisa Murkowski notes that funds are also allocated to study ways to prevent future disasters. “Our fisheries are vital to our state and the nation, and this support will go to important research and recovery efforts that can help fishermen and fishing communities right now,” Murkowski says.
Senator Dan Sullivan adds, “Our great fishing industry is a pillar of Alaska’s economy and culture, and our hardworking fishermen—the ultimate small businessmen—work around the clock to produce seafood for America and the world. These funds are welcome news that will ensure that our fishermen can continue to responsibly harvest the freshest, most sustainable seafood in the world.”
Representative Mary Sattler Peltola welcomes the relief but says efforts must continue: “A new round of subsistence fishing closures was just announced on the Yukon River, marking the fourth year in a row that subsistence fishermen have not been able to put nets in the water for chum salmon. This is a crisis that threatens both food security for many villages and our cultural heritage. Disaster relief funding for specific fisheries alone is not enough; we need large-scale action.”
To that end, Peltola is working with federal regulators to update national standards for fisheries management.
This year the Alaska Railroad is celebrating 100 years of transportation people and cargo around Alaska. While the railroad is one of the states oldest transporters, it certainly isn’t the only one, and in this issue of Alaska Business we also check in on the Marine Highway, Span Alaska, and the White Pass & Yukon Route. For those interested in Southeast, our focus on that region provides updates on Kensington Mine, Tongass FCU, the troll fishery, and Juneau’s growing landfill.