BRINGING IT IN – Crew of the F/V Storm Bringer haul in their seine net in Eastern Channel Friday. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Stedman Cites Work on Pink Salmon Issue

By Sentinel Staff

Sen. Bert Stedman asked Gov. Walker last month to consider adding Southeast Alaska to his request to the U.S. Department of Commerce for a disaster declaration related to this year’s poor pink salmon run.

Walker’s office announced Wednesday that he has added Southeast to the areas in the Gulf of Alaska for which he is seeking federal disaster relief because of the loss of income to fishermen in the pink salmon fishery.

In Thursday’s edition, the Sentinel reported on the governor’s letter to Rep. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins of Sitka and Dan Ortiz of Ketchikan, thanking them for their letter of Oct. 21 which had presented their data supporting the addition of Southeast to the fisheries areas Walker had previously listed in seeking the federal disaster declaration.

Stedman’s office told the Sentinel today that the Sitka senator has been working on the issue since early September, in a joint effort with the Petersburg Vessel Owners Association.

Stedman’s Senate district covers more than two dozen Southeast communities, including Ketchikan, Sitka, Wrangell, Metlakatla, Petersburg, Klawock and Hoonah.

On Sept. 23 Stedman announced on his web page that at his request, “Governor Walker’s office has agreed to review all relevant data and consider adding Southeast Alaska to the request for fisheries disaster relief from the federal government for the poor 2016 pink salmon harvest.”

On Oct. 18 the Petersburg association’s executive director Megan O’Neil sent a letter to the governor with detailed information about this year’s pink salmon run in Southeast to bolster the association’s Sept. 7 request to the governor for a disaster declaration.

“Our office worked closely with Ms. O’Neil to develop the (Oct. 18) letter, the research, and statistics cited in the letter starting back in late September,” said Stedman aide Randy Ruaro in an email to the Sentinel today. “I also personally discussed the grounds for including the Southeast salmon fishermen with the Governor’s Office in late September 23, 2016, and let them know a letter from PVOA would be forthcoming. The Governor’s Office agreed to consider our new information. A post on our website was put up for the public at that time as well.”

In her Oct. 18 letter to the governor about the 2016 fishery in Southeast, O’Neil said “wild pink salmon were off 47 percent from predictions and hatchery chum returns were off a combined 42 percent, and as much as 98 percent in the case of Hidden Falls.”

The poor chum returns at all Southeast hatcheries resulted in $18,332,760 in lost revenue to fishermen, she said. 

“In addition to the hatchery losses, an estimated $14,347,515 in lost revenue occurred for pink salmon to Southeast fishermen .... “ O’Neil said in the letter.

In a statement on his website today, Stedman said:

“I applaud Governor Walker for asking the federal government to review and grant disaster relief for the Southeast Alaska pink salmon fishery. Governor Walker also directed the state Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development to consider loan payment waivers for affected Pink Salmon Fishery Permit Holders. My staff worked closely with the Petersburg Vessel Owners Association to provide accurate information to the Governor’s Office.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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