Feds approve disaster declaration for 2022 Kuskokwim salmon fisheries

a drift net
A drift net being deployed on the Kuskokwim River in August 2021. (Elyssa Loughlin/KYUK)

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo has approved a federal disaster declaration for the Kuskokwim River because of the failure of multiple salmon fisheries in 2022.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy requested a disaster declaration from federal authorities for 2022 chinook, chum, and coho fisheries on the Kuskokwim after the fisheries experienced a 100 percent loss in commercial revenue and significant economic and cultural losses due to a depressed subsistence fishery.

The declaration makes the fisheries eligible for a yet-to-be-determined amount of disaster assistance. It also could allow tribal organizations and businesses to access loans or other federal funding programs to recoup losses because of the fisheries’ failures.

NOAA Fisheries announced that the 2022 Kuskokwim fisheries disaster was approved alongside two other fisheries disasters: one for chum and coho fisheries in Puget Sound in 2021, and another for Upper Cook Inlet salmon setnet fisheries in 2021 and 2022.

The declaration is one of a series of recent disaster determinations for fisheries on the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. The federal government has declared disasters for 2020 and 2021 fisheries on both the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers.

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