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Cook Inlet fishermen to receive $4.6 million in direct aid payments

Posted: August 19, 2014 - 11:04pm

Cook Inlet, Yukon and Kuskokwim commercial fishermen will receive payments this fall as part of the 2012 fishery disaster relief funding.

The National Marine Fisheries Service announced Monday 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, a Portland, Ore.-based organization, will administer 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 will receive a $2,000 fixed payment, plus a percentage based on their landings history from 2007 to 2011, according to National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS, spokeswoman Julie Speegle.

According to information provided by the National Marine Fisheries Service, an estimated 443 permit holders from Cook Inlet’s eastside setnet fishery will be eligible to apply for payments, as will an additional 96 Northern District fishermen.

Yukon River fishermen will receive an estimated $4,952, with 631 permit holders eligible to apply, Speegle wrote in an email.

An estimated 489 Kuskokwim River fishermen will be eligible for $165 payments, Speegle wrote.

That money is intended to compensate fishermen — at least partially — for losses from past salmon fisheries that received a federal disaster declaration.

“I think it will be helpful to everyone at the end of the day,” said Ken Coleman, vice president of the Kenai Peninsula Fishermen’s Association.

Upper Cook Inlet settnetters were almost entirely shutdown during the 2012 fishery due to concerns about the number of king salmon returning to the Kenai River.

The Yukon River designation was made for 2010, 2011 and 2012; the Kuskokwim River commercial failure was declared for 2011 and 2012; and the 2012 declaration was made for Cook Inlet, according to a letter from Rebecca Blank, acting secretary of commerce, to Gov. Sean Parnell. Runs on each of those rivers were well below average.

When the disaster declaration was being made, Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development Commissioner Susan Bell gave a letter to the federal government with a breakdown of the impacts on affected fisheries.

According to that information, commercial fishery permit holders lost about $16.8 million in direct ex-vessel revenue in the years included in the disaster designation.

“From the moment we learned that Alaska would receive fishery disaster relief funds, our first priority has been to get those dollars directly into the hands of fishermen who were impacted by the fisheries failure,” said Alaska Regional Administrator Jim Balsiger in a formal statement. “Approval of the grant application for direct assistance means that will happen very soon.”

According to the announcement, impacted fishermen will receive their applications for disaster relief funds in the mail.

Pacific States Executive Director Randy Fisher said applications would likely be sent out this Friday, and due back to the organization by Sept. 12.

Payments will be made shortly after the due date, he said.

Pacific States was also responsible for distributing the $5 million appropriation for the 2009 Yukon disaster.

Congress appropriated $20.8 million in aid for the 2012 disaster. According to the announcement from NMFS, Pacific States is developing a second grant proposal based on the spending plans developed by the several organizations, and NMFS expects to award that grant in the coming months.

Molly Dischner can be reached at

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KenaiKardinal88 08/20/14 - 03:48 pm
Greed Wins Again

The greediest won again. Paid to not work, commie fishers took salmon from the average Alaskan and twisted the political system to get paid.

Taxpayers lost - commie fishers won.

kenai123 08/20/14 - 04:03 pm
How very lovely. Our federal

How very lovely. Our federal government has spent millions of dollars regulating and allowing commercial pollock fisheries into catching and turning a million tons of pollock into fish sticks annually, while by-catch killing and dumping 4 adult king salmon per ton of pollock annually. That's a million tons of dead pollock in exchange for 4 million dead adult king annually. Our Alaska State government has spent millions of dollars regulating and allowing commercial gill net salmon fisheries to kill about 80% of the returning sockeye and therefore about 80% of the returning king salmon annually. Our Alaska State government histrionically allowed our commercial crab fisheries to destroy our crab resources, therefore dramatically reducing the primary crab larvae feed that juvenal king salmon require to become adult kings. Our governments are directly attacking our king salmon with expanded and excessive commercial fisheries.

Our governments have created commercial fisheries that have by-catch killed off the bulk of our king salmon, therefore causing many fisheries to be closed down in 2012. Now our federal government has appropriated $20.8 million in aid to attempt to make up for destroying the king salmon resource that resulted in the closing down these fisheries. Our government allows the destruction of our king salmon and then writes checks to the businesses destroyed by their actions. It may be more beneficial to just not fund the destruction of our king salmon in the first place, rather than trying to write checks to those effected by these illogical government actions.

borninak 08/20/14 - 07:08 pm
How very lovely indeed

Once again our 2 fishing guide geniuses have spewed their vitriol and hatred against their neighbors because they can't kill all the salmon in their guided fishing endeavors. It has to really suck being so clueless and hateful all the time, you know because it is so hard for the common folk to catch a fish around here and nobody can get any salmon for their freezer.

slamn salmn
slamn salmn 08/20/14 - 08:51 pm
Get it right!

Just for the record, this years harvest of sockeye to the central Inlet was less than half of what was taken by other users and left for escapement and that does not include the west side and northern district stocks of reds. Doesnt include the potential waste of millions of pinks. King salmon exploitation by the commercial fleet still remains at less than two tenths of one percent in comparison to sockeye harvests. Blue water fishers are another issue but are intercepting higher numbers of Chinook bound for southern latitudes. The Columbia River is approaching returns not seen since the 1930's. ADFG tells us that the trawl fleet has less than a 5 % bycatch rate on Kings bound for CI waters. Where do you folks get your information? Or is it just a way to make you feel good by distorting the facts (truth). Targeted King salmon fishing happens in the Rivers in southcentral and it has been conducted by the in river recreational fishermen for decades. No where else in the State do we have such intense fisheries with high mortalities on in river returning salmon. No where else do we allow users to disturb salmon preparing and in the process of spawning. That is the truth, that is a fact. Nevertheless, the numbers of returning Chinook are down and nobody knows really why. What happens next requires thinking out of the box and yes, to survive, we may all have to look for some kind of assistance and direction from our leadership. Many of us have paid taxes as small business men and woman for years. Disaster relief in this basic amount really is just sharing some of our previous contributions. It will not last long and it is up to us all to reconsider our options and look for community driven solutions.

kenai123 08/26/14 - 06:04 pm
slamn salmon is wrong...

slamn salmn your numbers are completely incorrect and you offer zero reference information while demanding 100% references from the other side. Where are your references for your claims regarding the central Inlet taking half of what other users take? Where is your link to the claim that millions of pinks were wasted? Where are your references for the claim that the commercial fleet catches less than two tenths of 1% of the kings? Where are your references for the claim that the trawler fleet catches less than a 5% bycatch on kings in Cook Inlet? Where are you're references for the claim that kings are only targeted in rivers of south central Alaska? Where are your references for the claim that nobody knows why our kings are missing, because I know why they are missing and I am somebody. Where are your references for your claim that our leadership will somehow figure out this king problem, since those are the same guys who created the fish problem in the first place? Where are your references for the claim that disaster relief will not last long and will in anyway really help anyone? You claim we need to reconsidering options but you have been making the same commercial fishing claims and accusations for the past 30 years and basically reconsidered NOTHING.

Our statewide king problem began back in the late 1990's as the size of our kings began to reduce. This reduction wasn't much so nobody noticed it. By 2000 some began to notice the problem but most still could not believe it was being actually caused by SOMETHING. By 2002 the Alaska Board of Fish and the public became aware of the growing problem but like you they assumed that it was a local single river or stream problem that could be corrected with new public freshwater fishing restrictions. Few knew at that time that our Alaska Commercial Crabber Fleet had basically wiped out our crab and was now refitting their boats to wipe out our pollock and therefore our kings also. The Commercial Pollock Fleet then began catching 1 - 2 million tons of pollock per year. Along with the pollock these trawlers by-catch killed and dumped about 4 adult kings per ton annually from about 1990 to 2007. For about 20 years these commercial fisheries operated with the ability to killed and dumped MILLIONS of adult kings, (20 years of destruction takes about 20 years to recover) This kind of industrial king destruction could not go on for long without someone finally noticing. By 2007 many did notice and some restrictions were finally placed on the commercial pollock fleet and many down-line users began to be closed down as our kings began visibly disappearing statewide in mass.

Pollock boats record biggest salmon bycatch in history

The bottom line is that we have people with their noses buried so deep into a Kenai River tree that they cannot see the forest or ocean beyond. It is time to stand back and acknowledge the big picture regarding the problem with our king runs. It is not the time to babble on about how local restrictions are going to somehow save a single river. It is not river degradations, not excess fishing on spawning beds, not excessive public fishing access or boats, not erosion, not turbidity, not oil pollution, not hook and release fishing and not the killing only the big ones. Increasing angler freshwater restrictions might help the situation a little but they would be like placing a Band-Aid on cancer.

The commercial by-catch of king salmon is the cancer and our king salmon are only the latest fish to fall victims to the wastefulness of commercial fishing. Local freshwater cosmetic changes may have worked in the past but they are not going to save our kings statewide in the future. We need a statewide ocean specific prospective to even address our king salmon problem. So put away all your old local sure-fired solutions because this problem is beyond the Kenai river.

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