Concerned with low Chinook salmon returns throughout the state, the Alaska Congressional delegation today wrote to Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank in support of Alaska Governor Sean Parnell's request for a disaster declaration for the Upper Cook Inlet region.
This letter of support comes after Governor Parnell requested federal assistance to address the immediate needs of fishermen and businesses that depend on the fisheries in the Kenai, Susitna and other upper Cook Inlet rivers. The letter states in part: "We are concerned about the economic impact of closures on individuals and businesses dependent on salmon fisheries, including cumulative impacts of commercial and recreational fishing closures on fishing communities in the region."
"East Side Cook Inlet setnetters saw a nearly 90 percent decline in revenues due to closures to protect Chinook salmon. Northern District setnetters saw a reduction of nearly 50 percent. 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."
The letter closes, "We believe all appropriate federal resources should be made available to affected communities and fisheries as quickly as possible. We respectfully request the State of Alaska's request for a fisheries disaster declaration for the Upper Cook Inlet region be acted on as quickly as possible, consistent with all relevant rules, laws, and regulations."
Information on federal fishery disaster assistance is available at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/sf3/disaster.htm.