Bipartisan Budget Act includes fisheries disasters relief

Federal funds for fisheries disasters, including the 2016 Prince William Sound pink salmon harvest, are included in the Bipartisan Budget Act that passed the senate 71-28 and was signed into law Feb. 9.

Disaster funding for that poor pink salmon harvest also covers the Kodiak, Chignik, lower Cook Inlet, Yakutat, South Alaska Peninsula and Southeast Alaska management areas.

Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both R-Alaska, urged their colleagues in October to include federal fisheries disaster funding in any emergency supplemental appropriations bill. In late October they joined other senators from coastal communities in requesting aid for communities impacted by fisheries disasters.

Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak alerted constituents on Feb. 14 that on Feb. 9, Congress passed a spending bill that included $200 million for various fisheries disasters, including the 2016 Gulf of Alaska pink salmon fisheries.

“Although it took longer than any of us would have liked and the funding will be spread thin across multiple fisheries disasters, I am reserving judgment until it is determined what proportion of that funding Alaska will receive,” Stutes said.  “This is what I know so far: $200 million for fisheries disaster relief will be distributed to NOAA. We are speaking with the Governor’s office daily to determine how much of that funding Alaska will receive, what the process will be for fishermen to access those funds, and when we can expect distribution.”