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Federal relief money heading to Alaska communities impacted by fishery disasters — including Chignik

Chignik Bay harbor. July 16, 2021
Izzy Ross
/
KDLG
Chignik Bay's harbor houses a fraction of the boats it did in years when fishing was better. July 16, 2021

Fish and Game will hold a listening session on how to spend relief money for Chignik's 2020 salmon season at 2 p.m. today. It will also hear input on funds for the Gulf of Alaska Pacific Cod fishery at that time. More information about call-in times is available at the department’s website. Members of the public can also email comments to the department.

Alaska communities impacted by more than a dozen fishery disasters between 2018 and 2021 are set to receive $131.8 million in federal relief. That’s according to an announcement on Thurs., May 5 from Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game. The funds were approved by Congress and allocated by the U.S. Department of Commerce.

But that’s a fraction of the money lost by the state’s fishing communities.

“You know, across the board here it looks like compared to the estimated losses from these disasters the funding that was provided makes up about 60 to 70% of those losses,” said Karla Bush, is an extended jurisdiction program manager with Fish and Game.

Fourteen fisheries in Alaska were approved as disasters by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce back in January. Those included the 2020 Chignik salmon fishery, which saw the lowest returns on record. The Gulf of Alaska’s 2020 cod fishery also received a disaster designation. That was the year most of the fishery disasters occurred — with several also happening in 2018 and one as recently as 2021.

The 2019 Alaska Norton Sound king crab fishery will also receive relief money — it was approved as a disaster by the Commerce Secretary in June of 2021.

Fish and Game will hold a listening session on Wed., May 11 for public input on how the latest disaster money should be spent. More information about call-in times is available at the department’s website. Members of the public can also email comments to the department.

Bush said the department hopes to publish a preliminary spending plan for the money next month.

The fishery relief funding list for Alaska communities encompasses:

  • 2019 Norton Sound Red king crab fishery: $1,433,137
  • 2020 Norton Sound, Yukon River, Kuskokwim River, Chignik, and Southeast Alaska salmon fisheries, and 2021 Yukon River salmon fishery: $55,928,849
  • 2018 Upper Cook Inlet East Side Set Net and 2020 Upper Cook Inlet salmon fisheries: $9,404,672
  • 2018 and 2020 Copper River and Prince William Sound salmon fisheries: $34,326,265
  • 2019/2020 Eastern Bering Sea Tanner crab fishery: $12,935,199
  • 2020 Gulf of Alaska Pacific cod fishery: $17,772,540