Last week, the 2016 pink salmon season in the Gulf of Alaska officially earned the status of a fishery disaster.
Pink salmon harvests were poor across the board last year. For the Kodiak management area for instance, fishermen pulled in 3.25-million pinks out a forecasted 16.2 million.
Other affected areas include Prince William Sound, the Chignik Management Area, the Lower Cook Inlet Management Area, the Yakutat Area, the South Alaska Peninsula, and Southeastern Alaska.
The request for a disaster declaration began with local government and from there traveled up to Governor Bill Walker, who wrote to United States Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker.
After an evaluation from the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Pritzker found that the 2016 pink salmon season satisfied the fishery failure declaration requirements outlined under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. In her letter to the governor, she writes the National Marine Fisheries Service will work with the State of Alaska and the affected communities to form a “spend plan.”
Kodiak Island Borough Manager, Michael Powers, commented on Kodiak’s share of the relief funding at a borough assembly regular meeting last week.
“Emergency declarations have a long process and a somewhat complicated process. It will go to Congress for potential funding and Congress will then potentially direct funding, and how they direct that varies with every emergency, but there’s implications to projects that the city and borough have done and are undertaking that could receive federal funding from that.”
The Gulf of Alaska was one of nine other areas to be declared a fishery disaster. Two others are in California, and the remaining six are in Washington State.