Representative Louise Stutes-House District 32-Proudly Serving Kodiak, Cordova, and Yakutat.
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OCTOBER 26th, 2017
Update: Disaster Relief Funding for the 2016 Gulf of Alaska Pink Salmon Fishery
Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I know that many commercial fishermen, residents, and businesses in my district were deeply affected by disastrous pink salmon returns in 2016. Pink salmon fishing is the mainstay of our seine fleet and the effect on families and the economy was devastating. I want to provide an update of where we are in the process of securing funding from the Federal Government for hard-working fishermen.
First, a little background on how we got to this point:
Shortly after the season, I approached Governor Walker and requested that he appeal directly to the U.S. Department of Commerce to declare a fishery disaster under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. On September 15th, 2016, Governor Walker wrote a letter officially requesting the declaration of a fishery disaster. On January 18th of 2017, former U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker made the declaration official, providing the framework for congress to appropriate the funds. The declaration was made for 2016 pink salmon runs bound for Kodiak, Yakutat, Lower Cook Inlet, Prince William Sound, the South Alaska Peninsula, and Southeastern Alaska.
Since that time, my office has been in constant communication with our Alaskan Congressional delegation via phone, email, and mail, urging that the funding be included in a federal appropriations bill as soon as possible so we can get the funding where it is needed: In the hands of our fishermen and into our economy.
I am ecstatic to announce that we have recently made headway regarding if and when we could expect funding in a federal appropriations bill. On October 2nd, Senator Murkowski and Senator Sullivan wrote a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee and Subcommittee urging the inclusion of Alaska’s fishery relief funding in any forthcoming supplemental appropriation for the recent hurricane devastation. That letter can be viewed here.
I also recently had a meeting with Senator Sullivan, who is the Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, & Coast Guard to discuss the timetable and likelihood of the request being honored. He sounded optimistic and assured me that he and his staff have this on their front burner.
While there are never any guarantees, this is what I know: Alaska’s request is near the top of the queue for funding, our congressional delegation is working hard alongside us to secure it, and there is a good chance it will be forthcoming in an upcoming supplemental bill.
The exact timetable of when the funding might be secured is something that neither myself or our congressional delegation can answer. However, I can promise you this: The squeaky wheel gets the grease and this wheel will not stop squeaking until you, my constituents, have the economic relief that you need.
I will send another update when I know more.
Please contact me at 907-465-3271 or email firstname.lastname@example.org any questions or additional information.