Approval for pink salmon disaster funding expected soon

Approval of the disaster relief application process for harvesters impacted by the 2016 pink salmon disaster is now estimated to be about three weeks out, according to a top aide to Rep. Louise States, R-Kodiak.

Without much new information on when harvesters could begin to apply for disaster relief, Stutes’ office has been hesitant to send out an update, but Matt Gruening, chief of staff and House Fisheries Committee aide to Stutes, said that federal contacts told him on March 18 that approval of the process is now estimated at three weeks out.

The funding is currently at the Federal Office of Management and Budget, which has stated that it will make this a priority, Gruening said.

While not pleased that the approval is still estimated at three weeks away, the Kodiak legislator’s office noted in a statement “that the federal process is notoriously slow and unresponsive, and there is little we can do but stay informed and, in turn, keep you informed.”

Once the application process is in place the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission will contact fishermen directly with applications, and the PSMFC will have a dedicated, toll-free hotline to answer questions.

The timeline between the approval of the grant and checks being mailed out is typically one month. There will also be an appeals process, staffed by fishermen, to address concerns of individual stakeholders.

Gruening said that Stutes’ office will let harvesters know when approval occurs via email, paper and Facebook so that harvesters can keep an eye out for the application or, for those out fishing, to have someone else check their mail.

With the 2019 salmon fishing season approaching, Gruening said, Stutes’ office is doing everything in their power to get those checks to fishermen in time for this year’s fishery.