Governor calls for federal disaster declaration for Pacific cod fishery

Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott signed a letter last week asking the federal government to declare the 2018 Pacific cod fishery in the Gulf of Alaska a disaster.

That could make the fishery eligible for federal relief funds, although who specifically would receive money would be figured out later.

It follows a decline in stock and a deep cut to the 2018 Pacific cod quota in the gulf.

According to the letter, the value of the 2018 Pacific cod harvest is looking at a more than 80 percent drop in revenue from the five-year average. Barbara Blake, senior adviser to Walker and Mallott, said crossing that 80 percent threshold makes the fishery eligible for a disaster declaration.

Blake said the letter will go to the secretary of commerce for a decision.

“How we’ve seen this come about in the past is that request goes in along with other natural disasters, and that’s how we end up getting the appropriations for that, is they roll it into natural disasters like hurricane relief and things of that nature,” Blake said.

That’s also how the fishery disaster for the 2016 Gulf of Alaska pink salmon season won funding this year. It’s unclear if the timeline for this declaration will be comparable.

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