State plans distribution of 2016 pink salmon season disaster relief funds

Pink (humpy) salmon migrating up Sargent Creek on Kodiak Island. (Photo courtesy USFWS/K.Mueller)

Pink salmon migrating up Sargent Creek on Kodiak Island. (Photo courtesy K.Mueller/USFWS)

The state is working on distributing roughly $56 million in relief funds to those affected by the 2016 Gulf of Alaska pink salmon season disaster.

The plan is still in its “infancy,” according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game deputy commissioner Charlie Swanton, but one projection for Kodiak is about $11.5 million. That was included in a table which Kodiak’s lobbyist sent to the Kodiak Island Borough and was then forwarded to the assembly.

Swanton said ADF&G originally calculated the Gulf’s numbers in 2016 based on previous years’ ex-vessel values and losses in the Gulf of Alaska. The data eventually made it to the desk of the Secretary of Commerce to help support whether the fishery merited a federal disaster declaration, and the 2016 pink salmon season in the Gulf was declared a disaster in 2017.

Swanton says the review committee could factor the amounts into its planning process moving forward.

“They’re useful as kind of a basic foundational basis for looking at the damages, if you will, by respective area,” Swanton said.

But Swanton says the money might be distributed differently than the table projects, and lots of elements go into that decision.

Julie Speegle, a spokesperson for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirms that a spending plan is in the works, and representatives from the state, NOAA, and the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission met recently to discuss who will receive relief funds and how much.

“The spending plan can cover a range of activities in support of commercial fisheries and support industries such as processors, fish houses, or communities affected by the disaster,” Speegle said.

The table of projected allotments sent to the Kodiak Island Borough also includes roughly $32 million for Prince William Sound, $10 million for Southeast, $1.8 million for the South Alaska Peninsula, $543,000 for Chignik, $310,000 for Lower Cook Inlet and $47,000 for Yakutat.

Speegle says the review committee may settle on the spending plan in the next few months.

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