Feds declare economic disaster for 2023 east Cook Inlet set net season

set netters
Clam Gulch set netters pull sockeye from a net in June 2022. (Riley Board/KDLL)

The federal government declared another economic disaster for Cook Inlet’s east side set net fishery this week, the third in three years.

The U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo issued the disaster determination for the 2023 fishing season Monday, in response to a request from Gov. Mike Dunleavy. Dunleavy’s support came following advocacy from local governments and fishing groups.

Revenue in the Kenai Peninsula fishery has been declining for years, because of low harvests and a drop in sockeye value. During the 2023 season, set netters weren’t allowed to fish at all. The state closed the fishery before the season began because of concerns about low returns of king salmon, which sockeye fishers sometimes catch accidentally.

The determination makes federal relief money available to fishers and related businesses affected by the disaster. Those funds can take a long time to reach impacted parties, though.

East side set-netters still haven’t seen any of the money from disasters declared for the 2018 or 2020 fishery thanks to a complex back-and-forth process between the state and federal governments.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly has supported the fishery’s pursuit of disaster relief funds with resolutions, including for the 2023 season. The east side set net fishery will remain closed for the 2024 season too until king salmon escapement passes 14,250 fish.

Previous articleKetchikan’s main homeless shelter is shutting its doors for good
Next articleReported trawling too close to Kuskokwim Bay draws industry response