The acting Secretary of Commerce announced today that determinations were made fisheries disasters in the Northeast portion of the United States as well as Mississippi and in Alaska.
In Alaska, Secretary Blank determined that Alaska had suffered a Fisheries Resource Disaster in three regions. Those regions are the Yukon, the Kuskokwim and the Cook Inlet.
Blank said that the fisheries failures are from “undetermined causes,” and thus allowable under the MSA and the Interjuristictional Fisheries Act. This allows Congress to appropriate disaster relief funding.
In a letter to Alaska’s Governor Parnell Blank said, “Commercial fishery failures can have cascading economic impacts on subsistence and sport fisheries. Rural communities on the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers depend on both the commercial and subsistence Chinook salmon fisheries for income and survival. 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 relief will assist affected fishing communities and support science to determine the underlying causes of the failure in an effort to prevent similar failures in the future.
In the Northeast area, that includes Rhode Island,New aYork,Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut, Blanks said that the Department of Commerce determined that despite the region’s fishermen’s adherence to strict catch limits, several key stocks are not rebounding and so declared that the region was also allowed relief for undetermined causes. Blank said that the determination will provide a basis for Congress to appropriate funding under the same programs. Blank said in letters to the region, “the National Marine Fisheries Service will work with your state to develop an effective program for an economically robust and sustainable fishery.”
Relief fort that region was for their groundfish fisheries.
Mississippi, who went through flooding from the Mississippi River waterway system from the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway in May of 2011 was determined eligible under IFA and MSA Acts because of natural causes. Relief is for the Blue Crab and Oyster fisheries in that area.
The news that Alaska’s King Salmon fisheries was eligible for relief was welcomed by Alaska’s delegation. Our three delegates to Washington released statements today.
“Today’s declaration demonstrates that we have clearly made our case to the federal government, and they see the disastrous impacts of low salmon runs on our state,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “Fisheries are critical to our economy, our culture, and our lifestyle – the anemic King runs this season have hurt numerous areas in our state and deserve attention and assistance from the federal government.”
“In Alaska, fish is the primary livelihood of our communities throughout the Yukon, Kuskokwim, and Cook Inlet regions. Fishermen and their families have endured a great deal of stress both financially and emotionally from the disastrously weak Chinook returns this year,” said Senator Mark Begich. “Prompt recognition of this by the Secretary of Commerce will help Alaskans affected better understand the causes of this disaster and move forward on a path toward recovery.”
“This is an important declaration for the people of Alaska – especially those living on the Yukon River, Kuskokwim River and Cook Inlet,” said Representative Don Young. “The fact is, Alaskans depend on fish for survival and with such a terrible run of Kings this year, people are hurting. I will continue to work with the rest of the Alaska Delegation and Governor Parnell to ensure Alaskans needs are met.”