Delegation supports Cook Inlet disaster declaration

Alaska’s congressional delegation wrote a letter Wednesday in support of Gov. Sean Parnell’s request for a federal disaster declaration in Upper Cook Inlet due to this year’s weak return of king salmon.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, wrote Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank about their concerns. The three echoed much of what Parnell said in his Aug. 16 letter, writing that the weak king run caused closures, gear restrictions and impacts which spread to the sockeye salmon fishery as well.

They called for “all appropriate federal resources” to be made available to affected fisheries and communities as quickly as possible.

They wrote that east side setnetters in Cook Inlet saw a nearly 90 percent drop in revenue due to closures caused by the king run and the northern district fishermen saw a 50 percent reduction.

“Businesses dependent on recreational fishing are a principle driver of the economy in the Kenai and Susitna river drainages and both were severely impacted by the downturn of the chinook stocks,” they wrote. “Fishing closures and restrictions to ensure conservation of the stocks deprived these businesses a critical source of income, and residents a traditional and important source of food for their families.”

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