The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced on Jan. 12 the approval of a second round of disaster funds for research and to be distributed to fishermen who were negatively impacted by the chinook salmon fishery disasters in 2012; $13 million of the total $20.8 million will be paid out to a variety of sport and commercial users.
“We are relieved that this second round of fisheries disaster funds has been approved, and look forward to getting direct payments to affected recreational and commercial businesses,” said Alaska National Marine Fisheries Service regional administrator Jim Balsiger. “Funds slated for salmon disaster research and restoration will help mitigate future fishery failures and impacts.”
This grant will distribute $4.5 million to the recreational fishing sector and related businesses for loss of income, $6.4 million for salmon research in the Yukon/Kuskokwim region, $1.1 million for research in the Cook Inlet, and $700,000 to salmon buyers in the Cook Inlet area.
In 2012, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce declared federal fishery disasters for the 2012 Upper Cook Inlet salmon fisheries, the 2010-12 Yukon River king salmon runs and 2011-12 Kuskokwim king runs.
In 2014, Congress appropriated $75 million for those disasters and others throughout the country. Since February, the federal fishery managers have been working with the state and others to develop a plan for distributing Alaska’s appropriation of $20.8 million, $7.8 million of which was distributed to commercial salmon fishermen in August 2014.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration collaborates with the State of Alaska to determine which groups will be eligible to receive the grant money.
Cook Inlet, Yukon and Kuskokwim commercial fishermen received payments last fall as the first part of the fishery disaster relief funding.
The National Marine Fisheries Service announced Aug. 18, 2014, that $7.8 million of the $20.8 million appropriated for the 2012 disaster declarations for Cook Inlet, Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers salmon returns would be used for direct aid payments.
Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission administered the grant and make the payments to eligible fishermen with $3.2 million intended for Yukon-Kuskokwim region fishermen, and $4.6 million for Cook Inlet fishermen.
Eligible Cook Inlet fishermen received a $2,000 fixed payment, plus a percentage based on their landings history from 2007 to 2011, according to NMFS spokeswoman Julie Speegle.
According to information provided by the NMFS, an estimated 443 permit holders from Cook Inlet’s East Side setnet fishery were eligible to apply for payments, as will an additional 96 Northern District fishermen.
Yukon River fishermen received an estimated $4,952, with 631 permit holders eligible to apply, Speegle wrote in an email.
That accounts for about $3.1 million of the total $3.2 million for Yukon and Kuskokwim permit holders.
An estimated 489 Kuskokwim River fishermen will be eligible for $165 payments, Speegle wrote at the time.
DJ Summers can be reached at email@example.com.