Sportfishing businesses can apply for Cook Inlet 2012 salmon disaster relief

The Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission is now accepting applications from sportfishing businesses in Cook Inlet for $4.6 million in disaster relief funds from the 2012 salmon season.

The commission has $4.6 million to be distributed to sportfishing related businesses showing losses during the disaster period. Examples include guides, lodging, restaurants and sport fishing gear retail businesses.

The commission also will dispense $700,000 to commercial fish buying stations and processors showing losses during the disaster period, and another $1.1 million for chinook related research in Upper Cook Inlet.

Susan Anderson of the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission said the organization mailed 3,200 applications between March 5-9 to business and individuals based on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game or State of Alaska licenses. Applications must be returned to the commission and postmarked no later than May 29, 2015, to be considered.

Anderson said payments will be made the first week of July at the earliest. Each recipient will receive an equal percentage of the $4.6 million.

All who did not receive an application are welcome to contact the commission to request one.

The commission administers the payments of the U.S. Secretary of Commerce, who in 2012 declared federal fishery disasters for the 2012 Upper Cook Inlet salmon fisheries, the 2010-12 Yukon River king salmon runs and 2011-12 Kuskokwim king runs.

In 2014, Congress appropriated $75 million for those disasters and others throughout the country. Since February, the federal fishery managers have been working with the state and others to develop a plan for distributing Alaska’s appropriation of $20.8 million, $7.8 million of which was distributed to commercial salmon fishermen in August 2014.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration collaborates with the State of Alaska to determine which groups will be eligible to receive the grant money.

Cook Inlet, Yukon and Kuskokwim commercial fishermen received payments last fall as the first part of the fishery disaster relief funding. 

Eligible Cook Inlet fishermen received a $2,000 fixed payment, plus a percentage based on their landings history from 2007 to 2011, according to National Marine Fisheries Service spokeswoman Julie Speegle.

According to information provided by NMFS, an estimated 443 permit holders from Cook Inlet’s East Side setnet fishery were eligible to apply for payments, as were an additional 96 Northern District fishermen.

Yukon River fishermen received an estimated $4,952, with 631 permit holders eligible to apply, Speegle wrote in an email. That accounts for about $3.1 million of the total $3.2 million for Yukon and Kuskokwim permit holders.

An estimated 489 Kuskokwim River fishermen were eligible for $165 payments, according to Speegle.

The first payment to the commission was for $7.8 million. This grant provided direct payments to commercial fishermen in both the Cook Inlet and Yukon-Kuskokwim regions; $3.2 million went to the Y-K and $4.6 million to the Cook Inlet.

The remaining $13 million, approved by NOAA in January, will distribute $4.5 million to the recreational fishing sector and related businesses for loss of income, $6.4 million for salmon research in the Yukon/Kuskokwim region, $1.1 million for research in Cook Inlet and $700,000 to salmon buyers in the Cook Inlet area.

So far, $1.2 million has been distributed to subsistence fishermen on the Yukon River, and $1.2 million to subsistence fishermen on the Kuskokwim River, both sums to include enhancing protection and restoration of king salmon stocks. 

The funds gave $1 million for development of comprehensive restoration plans for the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers, and $3 million for chinook related research through the Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim Sustainable Salmon Initiative.

DJ Summers is a reporter for the Alaska Journal of Commerce. He can be reached at daniel.summers@alaskajournal.com.

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