Jan 18, 2010
In May 2009 the federal Alaska Delegation, Senators Mark Begich, Lisa Murkowski and Representative Don Young, signed a joint letter asking Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to declare a fisheries disaster in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. The three officials praised the recent announcement by Secretary Locke to issue a Disaster Declaration for the Yukon River Chinook salmon fishery for 2008 and 2009:
US Senator Mark Begich:
“I am very pleased Secretary Locke has answered our requests and those of Western Alaska fishermen to declare a disaster after complete fishery failures in 2008 and 2009. This declaration recognizes the hardships imposed on Alaskans in this region by the closure of commercial and subsistence fishing for Chinook for the past two years.
My staff and I have worked closely with the Commerce Department for a number of months on this issue and I appreciate the Secretary’s recognition of the magnitude of the disaster.
Residents who live in this remote region of our state face some of the highest costs of living in the nation. With heating oil at $8 per gallon this past winter, residents reported having to choose between heating their homes and feeding their families. The fishery collapse has made these already dire circumstances substantially worse.
This announcement from Secretary Locke while visiting Alaska comes as great news. Our next step will be to move forward on funding to support the disaster declaration.”
US Senator Lisa Murkowski:
“I am pleased that the Department of Commerce has determined a commercial fishery failure for the Yukon River Chinook salmon run. The poor runs in 2008 and 2009 have had a devastating impact on the commercial and subsistence fisheries and the declaration authorizes the Department to work to restore the fishery. I look forward to working with local communities, the State of Alaska and Commerce Secretary Locke to find resources to assist in the recovery and restoration of the Chinook fishery.”
US Representative Don Young:
“I am very pleased Secretary Locke has answered the requests of the Governor, the Congressional delegation and those of the Yukon River fishermen to declare a disaster for the Yukon River King Salmon run,” said Rep. Young. “This decision recognizes the suffering by Alaskans in this region caused by the low returns of King Salmon over the past two years. I will continue to work with the delegation, along with the state, and the local community however I can, to assist in the recovery and restoration of the fishery.”
Thanks to all three for bringing national attention to the hardships the fishery failures have brought to the Y-K Delta. We’ll be looking forward to learning more about sources of funding to support the disaster declaration.