This year’s commercial salmon fisheries were devastating for Norton Sound and Yukon River fishermen, processors, local vendors, and municipalities.
Harvests in Norton Sound decreased by 87 percent, a loss of $1.7 million, and Yukon River harvests were down by 97 percent for a loss of $1.9 million.
Sen. Donny Olson (D-Golovin) and Rep. Neal Foster (D-Nome) sent a letter to Gov. Mike Dunleavy urging his administration to declare a fishing disaster, a request also made by many residents and organizations including Norton Sound Economic Development Council, Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association, and the Yukon Delta Fisheries Development Association.
“The Yukon River and Norton Sound fishermen and communities have experienced a combined loss of over $3.6 million this year due to low harvest numbers,” Representative Foster said of the issue. “There are few employment opportunities in these regions and many of our constituents rely on the salmon fishing industry for their annual income. These losses have been felt on many levels for families and communities unable to meet basic needs.”
Senator Olson added, “It is vital that Governor Dunleavy and the administration acknowledge these requests for disaster declarations. Families and communities are struggling through a worldwide pandemic and have no local alternative income sources. We need the governor’s leadership; preservation of this industry and protection of the people from devastation relies on strong leadership.”