Pink salmon disaster relief plan updated

Crewmembers added as eligible recipients

Rep. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, met with area residents on March 11, 2017 at the Cordova Legislative Information Office. From left, Scot Mitchell, chief executive officer of Cordova Community Medical Center, David Otness, Stutes, Mike Smith and Jim Aguiar. Photo by Cinthia Gibbens-Stimson/The Cordova Times

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

I hope this October finds you well with plenty of fish in your freezer!

I want to provide you with a quick update on the pink salmon disaster relief distribution plan now that the public comment period has been completed.

The state received an amazing amount of comments from the affected areas and submitted its finalized distribution plan to NOAA on Sept. 21. Thank you to those who participated and offered input.

Although the plan is still awaiting approval on the federal level, ADF&G was able to share some notable changes versus the draft:

  • For one, flexibility has been added for permit holders in specialized circumstances. Specialized circumstances might include the type of fishery as it relates to eligibility requirements or simply how to establish a catch history for new entrants into the fishery in 2016. I am glad flexibility was added as a “one size fits all” approach could result in an inequitable process for some.
  • Another notable change, which was the result of a lot of public comments, is the addition of crewmembers as eligible recipients. A crewmember will be reimbursed based on their percentage in 2016. When a skipper applies for reimbursement, they will be required to list their crew and what percent of the gross they were under contract for. For example, if a crew member was being paid a 10 percent share in 2016, they would be entitled, depending on certain factors, to 10 percent of the permit holder’s reimbursement. The good news is that the onus will not be on the skipper to track down old deckhands. If a permit holder had two deckhands at 10 percent and is entitled to $10,000, the state will cut the permit holder a check for $8,000 and each deckhand their own check for $1,000.
  • The third change worth mentioning is the way processor reimbursement is calculated. Reimbursement for the individual processors, and in turn processor workers, will be dependent on how many hours that processor usually logs in a season. Some processors will receive a higher reimbursement because they have historically logged more hours.

Now, there is the important question of when people can expect distribution?

ADF&G is hopeful that the state will have the application process in place by Jan. 1, 2019. At that point, it will only be a matter of processing applications and distributing funds. I will stay in communication with the department and let you know when an exact timeline is determined.

In the meantime, please reach out to me if you have any specific questions about this topic. I will do my best to get you an answer from the department.

I work for you! Feel free to contact me anytime with your thoughts, concerns, or ideas.

Sincerely,

Louise Stutes

State House Representative for District 32. Proudly Serving Kodiak, Cordova, Yakutat and Seldovia. Reach her at Rep.Louise.Stutes@akleg.gov or. (907) 465-2487. Follow her at facebook.com/RepLouiseStutes and twitter.com/RepLouiseStutes.

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