Fishery Disaster Funds Included In Early Appropriations Bill

Relief funds for last summer’s King salmon fisheries disasters on the Kuskokwim and Yukon Rivers has taken one step closer to reaching fishermen in the region.

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Funds have been included in the Senate Appropriations bill. The bill passed out of the Senate’s Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee Tuesday and through the Appropriations Committee today.

The bill allocates $150 million for fisheries disasters in Alaska, as well as in New England and Mississippi. Senator Lisa Murkowski says it is uncertain how the money would be split.

“That $150 million would be divided up based on recommendations from the state’s to NOAA,” Murkowski says. “So, that is yet to be determined.”

The bill requires the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to provide feedback concerning how the funds will be spent.

Murkowski says there’s still a long road ahead before any checks are written to fishermen. If the bill gets through the appropriations committee, it would still have to pass the full Senate and House.

“So this is the first step in a very important process,” Murkowski says. “It’s kind of a brick by brick process but we have moved it yet one step further.”

A federal resource disaster was declared last year in September for the Yukon, Kuskokwim and Cook Inlet Chinook salmon runs after the rivers saw dramatically low numbers. It was the second federal fisheries disaster declared for the Yukon River since 2009.

The Alaska Delegation, comprised of Murkowski, Senator Mark Begich and Congressman Don Young said the process of getting relief funds through Congress could take over a year.

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