Salmon Fishery Disasters Declared by Commerce Secretary

Image: U.S. Commerce Department.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on April 19 announced the determination of two 2021 and 2022 salmon fishery disasters in Alaska and one in Puget Sound.

They include: the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s 2021 Puget Sound fall chum and coho salmon fisheries, the 2022 Kuskokwim River salmon fishery and the 2021 and 2022 Upper Cook Inlet East Side setnet salmon fishery.

The determination came in response to requests from the late Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe Chairman Jeromy Sullivan and Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy.

Raimondo’s office evaluates fishery resource disaster requests based primarily on data submitted by the requesting official. Each request must meet specific requirements under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

For example, there must be economic impacts and an unexpected large decrease in fish stock biomass or other change. The impacts must result in significant loss of access to the fishery resource resulting from specific allowable causes due to the fishery resource disaster event.

There is no standing appropriation for these fisheries disasters, but in this case Congress did provide an appropriation for disasters in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023.

NOAA Fisheries is currently working to determine how best to allocate these funds for the positively determine fishery disasters. Once the allocations are approved by the Secretary, each state or tribe will be notified of their allocation.

NOAA Fisheries’ Alaska office in Juneau said it does not know at this time what the exact process and timeline will be for disbursing the funds, as that is to be determined to some extent by the spend plans that will be developed following allocations.