Concerned with low Chinook salmon returns on the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers this fishing season, the Alaska Congressional delegation today wrote to Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank in support of the Alaska Federation of Natives (AFN) request for a disaster declaration. This letter of support comes after AFN requested federal assistance to address immediate subsistence needs for the region, and states in part:
"Chinook salmon returns to Alaska are weak statewide this season, and have been below average in many areas in recent years. The State of Alaska has been forced to put burdensome salmon conservation measures in effect in commercial, sport, and subsistence fisheries from the Kenai to the Yukon," the delegation writes. "Our primary concern is the impact of closures on communities dependent on subsistence, including the Alaska Native peoples who for generations have depended on fish to feed their families. People along the Kuskokwim and Yukon rivers have a limited weather window to dry and put up fish for the coming winter."
The letter closes, "It is imperative that all appropriate federal resources be made available to affected communities and fisheries as quickly as possible. Therefore, we respectfully request that AFN's request be acted on as quickly as possible, consistent with all relevant rules, laws, and regulations."
The letter to Acting Commerce Secretary Blank is attached, in addition to the Alaska Federation of Natives resolution asking for federal disaster assistance. Information on federal fishery disaster assistance is available at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/sf3/disaster.htm.