U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski, Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young, (all R-Alaska), today welcomed an announcement by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that the agency approved $53.8 million to restore losses for Alaska fisheries impacted by the 2016 Gulf of Alaska pink salmon fishery disaster. NOAA approved and transferred the funds to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, the agency tasked with distributing the relief payments to fishermen and their deckhands, processors, and for salmon research in the affected regions.
"This funding has been a long-time coming. We are pleased that Alaskans who have been waiting for this economic relief that was promised to them will finally receive it. By restoring losses incurred during the 2016 pink salmon disaster, our federal government is following through not only on the commitment we made to Alaska's commercial fisherman, but also to their families, processors, and coastal communities who were hit hard by this disaster," said the Alaska Congressional Delegation. "We pushed hard to secure this relief for those whose livelihoods depend on the health of our fisheries. And we will continue to stand up for Alaska's fisheries to ensure that this industry that is so vital to our state remains strong and vibrant for generations to come."
In January 2017, the Secretary of Commerce declared the 2016 Gulf of Alaska pink salmon fishery disaster due to disastrously low returns. The following Alaska areas were included in the disaster declaration for poor pink salmon harvests in 2016: Prince William Sound, Kodiak Management, Chignik Management, Lower Cook Inlet Management, Yakutat, South Alaska Peninsula, and Southeast.
The Alaska Congressional Delegation fought to secure inclusion of fisheries disaster funding in the Bipartisan Budget Act, which was signed into law in February 2018 and appropriated $200 million for fisheries disasters across eight states and U.S. territories. This funding appropriation was in response to nine fisheries disasters declared in Alaska, Washington, California and Oregon, coupled with fisheries failures in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
Following the disaster declaration, the Secretary of Commerce announced in June 2018 that Alaska would receive $56.3 million in disaster funding to support compensation, recovery, and relief for fishermen, communities, and stakeholders affected by the 2016 Gulf of Alaska pink salmon fishery disaster. (Note: NOAA's announcement accounts for the approval and release of over $53 million of the $56.3 million total funding package.)