Salmon fishermen who are expecting federal aid for the 2016 Pink Salmon disaster, need to go over their proposed payout and be prepared to file an appeal if the numbers are off, according to Kodiak Representative Louise Stutes who spearheaded the disaster relief effort.
KMXT’s Maggie has details. Click player below to listen to story which is 3:32 long.
“I’m truly disappointed, but I guess on the other hand, I have to say something is better than nothing. But the formula that has been used, or is being used to determine the payouts seems to be really inequitable.”
That’s Kodiak Representative Louise Stute’s who chairs the House Special Committee on Fisheries.
Stutes says she became aware of a number of problems with the formulas when she got a “huge response” from her constituents, especially those in Prince William Sound.
She cited a number of discrepancies in the way payouts were determined that seem unfair.
One example hits those who fish both a seine permit and a gillnet permit especially hard.
“If I fished a gillnet permit, say in Prince William Sound, in 2012, and then later on I bought a seine permit, that I fished in 2016, my year of gillnetting will be used to establish a five-year average to base my loss on for the 2016 seine season.
“And of course, the problem is the two fisheries are not comparable. A Prince William Sound gillnetter might bring in 3,000 pounds of pinks a year of incidental catch, whereas a seiner is targeting maybe a million pounds or more. And yet, somehow a gillnet average will be used as though it was a year of seining.”
Another discrepancy, says Stutes, is the difference in payout for those who fished several of the years used for the five-year average, as opposed to those who just started fishing in 2016.
“The way they have the formula, if you are a new entrant, they just entered the fishery say in 2016, they are being afforded a five-year fleet-wide average to base their losses on. Whereas a permit holder, for instance, who only fished in 2014 or 2012, they had their formula calculated using only those years, without the blending of the previous years.
That she says could mean a big difference in terms of how much money the longer-term fisherman would get.
“So a new entrant who hasn’t fished at all could be receiving tens of thousand dollars more than an individual who actually did fish. Which seems rather bizarre.
There are other discrepancies dealing with tenders, skippers, and emergency medical transfers.
And if that wasn’t problematic enough, yet another problem faces those who feel they have been shorted. There is a fixed amount of money available for distribution, so Stutes recommends filing appeals right away before money runs out.
Stutes also suggests fishermen send a letter to her office so her staff can help keep tabs on it, and to copy it to the Pacific States Commission. and to the Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission.
Rep. Stutes’ phone is (907) 465-3271, ask for Matt Gruening (It’s pronounced Green-ing.).