The head of the largest tribal organization in the state says he will request a disaster designation from Governor Sean Parnell to address the king salmon crisis on the Kuskokwim and Yukon Rivers.
Myron Naneng who is president of the Association of Village Council Presidents, says the situation is getting critical for people in the region who depend on the wild salmon harvest to feed their families.
A 7-day subsistence closure for king salmon, which was set to expire at midnight on Saturday was extended five more days on Friday. Bethel test fishery numbers show some of the lowest numbers on record.
Normally the middle of June is prime time for catching kings and putting them up in smoke houses.
Biologists are hoping that the kings are running late this season and will begin to move into the river soon. If the fish don't arrive until July, that could cause other problems in putting away food for winter. July is too wet and rainy for drying salmon.
Naneng says the subsistence closure set by state and federal wildlife managers is too long. In an email sent to the Governor's Rural Advisor, John Moller, Naneng requested a meeting with the governor and the commerce commissioner. He said, "People in the villages are becoming desperate in need of putting food away for winter. Salmon does not wait. Nor does the drying season."
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