Breaking News: Alaska’s Governor Parnell Urges Disaster Relief for Yukon Fishery!


Aug 7, 2009

Thank you Governor Parnell!!

In a letter today, Governor Sean Parnell asked Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to declare a fishery disaster in the Yukon River Chinook salmon fishery.

Residents of rural communities along the river rely heavily on income from fishing and have few alternate income sources. These residents struggle with a high cost of living and limited employment opportunities, and this year they are struggling to rebuild after devastating flooding. This combination of factors makes the loss of income from the commercial fishery critical. The estimated average household income in the area for 2008 was $31,866, a level approaching the federal poverty line even before adjusting for the high cost of living in the area. Commercial fishing is the only identified industry in the region that brings new money into the economy. Over 800 Alaskan permit holders are directly affected, along with crewmen, processing employees, and those who provide support services.

In his letter Governor Parnell acknowledges similar requests by the Association of Village Council Presidents and the Alaska Federation of Natives and offers his full support.

He told the Alaska Dispatch this on August 7:

“I trust Secretary Locke will recognize the severity of the situation on the Yukon and declare a fishery disaster,” Governor Parnell said. “I look forward to working with federal agencies and Alaska’s congressional delegation to secure disaster relief assistance for this region.”

This is not a task force or an advisory board or a committee!! This is a bold move to avoid another crisis. His request:

I ask that you make such a determination for Yukon River Chinook salmon fisheries and enable those affected by this significant resource disaster to access federal assistance.

Bravo Governor Parnell!!

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13 Responses to “Breaking News: Alaska’s Governor Parnell Urges Disaster Relief for Yukon Fishery!”

  1. elsie09 Says:

    Thank God, and thank you Governor Parnell.

  2. alaskapi Says:

    Way to go gov!
    Now- we have to wait til/if disaster is declared and $ appropriated…
    California and Oregon governors had stepped up to the plate for their citizens…
    Now ours has.
    On April 30, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke extended the 2008 salmon disaster declaration for California and Oregon, which gave West Coast salmon fishermen access to $53 million in unspent relief funds from 2008, including $6.7 million for Oregon. However, the Oregon Governor’s office has estimated that an additional $9.8 million is needed to further ease the impact of low salmon returns.

  3. Jim Says:

    If it looks like a disaster, smells like a disaster, and tastes like a disaster, its a disaster– good for Governor Parnell for responding to this situation correctly and with realism. Hope this is a good sign.

  4. Kath the Scrappy Says:

    One thing to point out, in case somebody didn’t know it, Gary Locke was our previous very capable Dem Gov of Washington State. He knows the impacts of bad fish run years. The Govs of Washington, Oregon, & California have ALL requested Disaster Relief over fish in years past. It just takes a Governor WILLING to ask for the assistance in the FIRST PLACE to get the wheels in motion! Duh!

  5. alaskapi Says:

    Kath the Scrappy

    We have watched governors from the West Coast south of us step up …
    Now- we watch ours.
    Doesn’t tell us what all is going on the salmon fishery here nor take folks on the Yukon out of the crossfire between competing fisheries interests but it sure as heck addresses that there is a REAL PROBLEM .

  6. UgaVic Says:

    Gov Parnell-
    There are more areas than the Yukon that are struggling but to know you have heard the cries of the Yukon area warms our hearts throughout rural AK.
    We will remember this!

  7. shrinkinggranny Says:

    Ohhh, I’m so glad!

    And I’m glad that Gov Parnell does not seem to be following in his predecessor’s footsteps.

    more hopeful than I’ve been in a long time,

  8. Michigander Says:

    Gov Parnell, thank you! If your words are true and get positive results regardless of your motive, you will gain respect from Alaskans and us ‘outsiders’.

    Oh, please please, I want to believe this will happen. Also so important – the rest of the stim for energy!

    To Ann, I posted something at Mudflats on an older thread. Here is part of it:

    “Also thanks for posting the link to the radio archive, am sharing it with friends and neighbors to get the word out.

    Ann, you work so hard, study so dilligently and more importantly live with the salmon crisis, you know your stuff girlfriend! Thank you for educating us and giving me the incentive to study on my own on this important issue.

    Never give up and no worries – most of us don’t have tunnel vision and are not that gullible (o: ”

    Thank you to Jane, UgaVic, Nick Tucker, Alaska Pi, MarthaUYS so many more for reminding us we need to practice what we preach. Thank you for letting me be a part of your lives. I look forward to the day when I can send a silly note or frivolous child’s gift (even cookies!) instead of rice and noodles.

    You are dear to my heart – Rainie

  9. elsie09 Says:

    In requesting the fishery disaster declaration at this time from the secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce, so quickly after the summer chinook salmon fishing season ended, Governor Parnell placed the needs of the rural Yukon people at the top of a list of important priorities. While I don’t want to look back at last winter, at the same time, we cannot forget it.

    Today is a new day in Alaska, with a thoughtful, judicious measure taken by a new governor, and I celebrate “the possible” with my Alaskan friends. I so much respect this action taken by Governor Parnell and hope that Secretary Locke will act quickly to avert the panic, hunger and suffering these good people experienced last winter attempting to survive conditions beyond their control.

    While it is exquisitely difficult to avoid, I believe that it is probably not fair to Governor Parnell to compare him to what came before. I promise that I will attempt to look at this new governor simply as “the governor”, and not refer to what came before him, but simply, address “what is”, TODAY. He appears to have a very fine brain, a good sense of compassion, and a kind heart, and he conveys with this request for a federal declaration of disaster that he is not afraid to use his wisdom and sense of decency for good. It’s a new day in Alaska, and a good, decent person appears to be at the helm of leadership, setting a strong course, and guiding the state in a new direction. Hallelujah!

  10. Phil Munger Says:

    If commerce secretary Locke issues the disaster declaration, does that give NOAA more leverage to shut down the Bering Sea trawl fishery until we know more on the impact of their salmon bycatch? Or does that give the effected people on the Yukon more leverage to get a court order to halt he Bering Sea trawl fishery?

  11. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign Says:

    Good questions, Phil. Next week is when the President’s Rural Tour will be in Bethel on Weds. Do we know of ANYONE who can attend this meeting? Are they only going to talk with residents who can physically be there? They need a phone-in segment for residents to call in and provide their ideas and testimonies.

    “A healthy American economy depends on a prosperous rural America,” President Obama said. “Rural America is vast and diverse, and different communities face different challenges and opportunities. That’s why we’re going out to hear directly from the people of rural America about their needs and concerns and what my Administration can do to support them.”

    “Secretaries Steven Chu, Shaun Donovan, Arne Duncan, Ken Salazar and Tom Vilsack will travel to Bethel, AK, to discuss rural infrastructure, green jobs and a new energy economy, as well as climate change.”

    Dang, why can’t Gary Locke join the Alaska tour portion since he understands the Pacific Northwest? Wish we could get him on the Alaska tour portion as well:

    “Vice President Joe Biden and Secretaries Gary Locke and Tom Vilsack will kick-off the Rural Tour on July 1st by visiting Wattsburg, Pennsylvania, to discuss the issue of rural broadband. “

  12. alaskapi Says:

    You are way ahead of me with your questions!
    Trying to understand exactly what benefits would flow from a federal fisheries disaster declaration at this point.

    There are some proposed rules changes which have not been finalized so presumably old rules still apply.

    Have been looking at bycatch issues for affected fisheries down south…
    just not caught up with you yet! Whew.

  13. alaskapi Says:

    “Freedom to choose share-cropping the ocean ” from

    has me concernd that NOAA can even be said to manage fisheries at this point. I know there is plenty of good work going on here and there but am beginning to think the regional fish councils, at least ours, need to be yarded in and retooled …

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