Commerce Department Allocates $220M for Disasters in Alaska, Washington Fisheries

Congress has provided more than $220 million to address fishery disasters that occurred in multiple Alaska and Washington fisheries from 2019 through 2023.

Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo announced the allocation on May 19, noting the devastating effects these disasters have had on local communities in both states and on the blue economy. 

Additional funds for fisheries disasters in Oregon and California were still pending.

Raimondo said the money would provide much needed assistance to the fishing industry in both states.

The Commerce Department will work with affected Alaska Bristol Bay red king crab and Bering Sea snow crab fisheries for 2021/2022 and 2022/2023; 2021 Alaska Kuskokwim River salmon and Norton Sound chum and coho salmon fisheries; 2021 Alaska Chignik salmon fishery; 2020 and 2021 Alaska Norton Sound red king crab fisheries; 2020 non-tribal ocean salmon troll and Puget Sound salmon fisheries; 2020 Alaska Copper River/Prince William Sound coho and pink salmon fisheries, and 2019 Washington Columbia River, Willapa Bay and Puget Sound salmon fisheries.

NOAA Fisheries used commercial revenue loss data to allocate funding across eligible disaster areas.

NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator Janet Coit said the agency understands that some of the disasters are related to climate change and are of great concern for the fishing industry and communities dependent on the fisheries for local economies.

Using the funds, NOAA would continue to address climate change challenges and its understanding of marine ecosystems, she stated.

The money can be used to assist impacted fishing communities, including commercial fishermen, recreational fishermen, charter businesses, shoreside infrastructure and subsistence users.

Those activities may include fishery-related infrastructure projects, habitat restoration, state-run vessel and fishing permit buybacks, job retraining and more.

Some fishery-related businesses impacted by the fishery disasters also may be eligible for assistance from the Small Business Administration. 

In addition, NOAA Fisheries will work with Alaska and Washington on administering the disaster relief funds. Fishing communities and individuals impacted by the disasters are advised to work with their state and/or the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, as appropriate.