Alaska legislators pursue federal funds to mitigate fishery disasters

Pink salmon swimming. (Photo: Joe Serio/ USFS/ Flickr)

Mitch Borden/KMXT

None of the communities, including Kodiak, affected by the 2016 pink salmon fishery disaster have received federal funding for it. This event was officially declared a Federal Disaster in 2017. Kodiak’s state representative Louise Stutes says the status of the aid is still up in the air.

The 2016 pink salmon run cost the state around $150 million according to Stutes. She doesn’t know how much money the Kodiak region lost, but Stutes remembers seeing how much people were struggling.

“The emotional impact was huge. People would answer their doors with tears on their face because it was such a crisis.”

Earlier this month, Alaska’s U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski, along with congressmen from other states, sent a letter to the Chair and Vice Chair of the Senate’s Committee on Appropriations. It urged the committee to pay attention to fishery disasters along with natural disasters.

Stutes says the devastation of a fishery disaster isn’t just limited to a region’s seafood industry.

“It affects every aspect of Kodiak from the cannery workers to the fisherman to the stores to the hotels. Whether it be the KI or the Shelikoff or whatever it is. Everybody feels it.”

Stutes is hoping Alaska’s funding will be included in the federal relief package for areas hit by hurricanes last year, but only time will tell. She says Alaska’s legislators are working hard on this issue, and that she’s continuing to pursue it as well.

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