Cook Inlet disaster declaration granted

Help may be on the way for local commercial fisherman after the acting Secretary of Commerce declared a commercial fishery failure for the Cook Inlet.

In her letter to Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell secretary Rebbeca Blank determined that, in addition to Cook Inlet's disaster declaration, a commercial fishery failure occurred for the second year on the Kuskokwim Rivers and a fishery resource disaster continued for its third year on the Yukon River.

“Commercial fishery failures can have cascading economic impacts on subsistence and sport fisheries,” according to the letter. “In addition, the Cook Inlet Chinook salmon fishery supports an important sport fishery, which is one of the principal economic drivers for the local and regional economy.”

The secretary’s determination paves the way for Congress to provide disaster relief funding although there is no standing fund for fishery disaster relief according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration policy guidance documents. 

If Congress appropriates the funding, NOAA will work with the state, the Alaska Federation of Natives and affected communities to provide relief according to the secretary's letter.  

Rashah Mcchesney can be reached at rashah.mcchesney@peninsulaclarion.com

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