After Pink Salmon Disaster, Relief Funding Uncertain

logo-w-sunburstKayla Desroches/KMXT

The pink salmon disaster last year ate into the profits of fishermen and processors in the Gulf of Alaska, and the Kodiak area is still waiting to see if it’ll receive emergency relief funds.

At a Fisheries Work Group meeting last week, fisheries analyst Heather McCarty touched on a letter some legislators, including Senator Dan Sullivan and Representative Don Young, had addressed to the Committee on Appropriations asking them to include the funds for community relief in the budget. The pink salmon disaster is one of nine other commercial fishery failures listed in that letter.

A separate document graphs the season’s financial impact on harvesters based on a five year pre-disaster average and the damage done in 2016. For Kodiak, the impact was roughly $13,663,000.

McCarty said getting funding is a long process. And an uncertain one.

“We were told at one point by the federal lobbyist for the city and borough that sometimes people try to tack onto a really big disaster like a hurricane or something to try to get that sort of an omnibus disaster funding request through the congress. There might be money in your future, but I don’t know exactly what it’s gonna look like.”

Assemblyman Larry LeDoux said that, according to the D.C. lobbyist, the legislators on the appropriations committee might not treat this case as an urgent one.

“Unless there’s a hurricane there’s probably not gonna be any money coming because it’s a low priority. So, that’s sort of where we are.”

But they still intend to try to secure funding.

City Councilman John Whiddon said he’ll be meeting with Sullivan, Young, and Senator Lisa Murkowski in D.C.

“And this is gonna be one of the topics that we’re going to be specifically talk about is pursuing this disaster relief in such a manner that we don’t have to wait for some other disaster to happen before they’ll issue funds, so we’re going to go after this aggressively, but at the state level and at the federal level.”

Whiddon said he spoke with the lieutenant governor when in Juneau, and they’re pursuing the issue on their side as well.

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