Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy announced the first salmon donation of 2022 on June 10, 2022, for communities adversely impacted by poor salmon returns to the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers. The partnership between the State of Alaska, Kwik’Pak Fisheries, Alaska Interior Fish Processors, and Tanana Chiefs Conference, Copper River Seafoods, and Lynden Air Cargo, Air Land Transport, brings 12,928 pounds of #1 Keta salmon to the region.
“I am pleased to see our partnerships continue for a second year to help our fellow Alaskans in need. While this salmon donation is no substitution for subsistence fishing, it is our hope that it can temporarily help fill the gap as we monitor the 2022 salmon returns to the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers,” said Governor Dunleavy. “The Alaska Bycatch Review Task Force’s work is underway, and they are committed to finding long-term, sustainable solutions to aid in the region’s salmon runs. I thank our partners, our diligent employees with the Department of Fish and Game, and our Task Force volunteers for their ongoing efforts to address this matter.”
“The Governor’s correct. It’s great to have this team together helping Alaskans with food security,” said Douglas Vincent-Lang, the Commissioner of the Department of Fish & Game. “On the science side, we have the bycatch task force looking at ways to reduce salmon bycatch, the recent multinational Pan Pacific expedition gathering data in the North Pacific to assess factors affecting marine survival of salmon, and the world-renowned fisheries scientists at ADF&G all working in concert identifying possible solutions to improve the sustained yield for which we strive in these precious resources.”
Following poor salmon runs and subsequent fishing closures on the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers in 2021, the State of Alaska gave two salmon donations, totaling 36,542 pounds, and coordinated a third delivery of an additional 8,874 pounds of donated salmon to the region last summer. Championed by Alaska’s congressional delegation, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced in May the allocation of $132 million to Alaska for fishery disasters, of which $56 million is earmarked for the 2020 and 2021 Yukon River Salmon Fishery.
In November 2021, Governor Dunleavy signed an administrative order creating the Alaska Bycatch Review Task Force to help better understand unintended bycatch of high-value fishery resources in state and federal waters. The membership of the Task Force includes subsistence users on both the Yukon and Kuskokwim Rivers, as well as individuals representing Alaska Natives, personal use and sport fish, trawlers, salmon and halibut fishing, and Community Development Quota (CDQ) entities. The Task Force has met monthly since January 2022 and will deliver recommendations to the Governor through a report by November 30, 2022.