U.S. Commerce Dept. Allocates $144M for Fisheries Disasters

Image via U.S. Department of Commerce.

Alaska, the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation and the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe in Washington state will share in $144 million awarded by the U.S. Commerce Department for fisheries disasters suffered between 2018 and 2021.

The allocation, announced May 5 by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, applies to previously declared fishery disasters including the 2019 Norton Sound king crab fishery, the Port Gamble Tribe’s 2018 Puget Sound coho salmon fishery and the Chehalis Tribe’s 2019 Chehalis River spring Chinook salmon fishery.

Eligible fisheries in Alaska that experienced disasters between 2018 and 2021 include the 2018 Upper Cook Inlet East Side Setnet and 2020 Upper Cook Inlet salmon fisheries, the 2018 Copper River Chinook and sockeye salmon fisheries, 2020 Prince William Sound salmon fisheries, 2019-2020 Eastern Bering Sea Tanner crab, 2020 Pacific cod in the Gulf of Alaska, the 2020 Alaska Norton Sound, Yukon River, Chignik, Kuskokwim River and Southeast Alaska Salmon fisheries and the 2021 Yukon River salmon fishery.

NOAA Fisheries spokeswoman Katie Wagner noted that in the past the agency has issued non-competitive awards to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission for West Coast and Alaska fishery disasters or directly to East Coast states and territories.

“NOAA Fisheries is working with states receiving allocations under this announcement to determine the best and most efficient available funding mechanism,” Wagner said. “The agency will work with the recipients to ensure that all statutory and grant requirements are addressed in their grant application and spend plan.”

“It can take several months to complete the necessary review,” she said, before funds are made available.

Officials said the funds will help improve the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of impacted fisheries. The grants can be used to assist the impacted fishing communities including commercial and recreational fishermen, charter businesses, shore-side infrastructure and subsistence users.

Activities that can be considered for funding include fishery-related infrastructure projects, habitat restoration, state-run vessel and fishing permit buybacks, job retraining.