Alaska to get $20.8 million in fish disaster funds



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More than a year after the Secretary of Commerce declared federal economic disasters for several Alaska salmon runs, the state is slated to get funding to help with recovery.

Alaska communities will receive $20.8 million in aid for the disaster declarations on the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers and in Cook Inlet. The designations came in 2012, although it included 2010, 2011 and 2012 on the Yukon and 2011 and 2012 for the Kuskokwim.

Congress included $75 million for fisheries disasters throughout the country, including New England, Alaska, and Lousiana, in its most recent appropriations bill.

Alaska’s congressional delegation will work with the governor to distribute the state’s portion of the funding.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski announced Alaska’s share of the money this morning.

“Today is a great beginning to making our fishing communities whole, and I will be working to get this funding to Alaska as quickly as possible,” said Murkowski in a formal statement. “When the Coastal Coalition was able to secure $75 million to states in New England, down the East Coast and also along the Gulf of Mexico, that was the beginning of negotiations to make sure Alaska got its fair share — and I believe that getting more than a quarter of that total for our state will assist thousands of Alaskans who were affected by the disaster in 2012.”

In 2012, when the declaration was made, the state estimated that economic damages exceeded $10 million.

At that time, acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank wrote a letter to Gov. Sean Parnell and said that while the declarations were for commercial fishery failures, those could also include economic impacts for subsistence and sport fisheries, as were felt on the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers and in Cook Inlet.

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