Citing failed sockeye runs, Gov. Walker declares economic disaster for Chignik fisheries

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — Citing a preliminary harvest count of 128 sockeye salmon and rapidly declining escapement counts, Gov. Walker declared an economic disaster for the Chignik fisheries region Thursday.

According to a Thursday release, the governor's decision is a result of harvest numbers that pose a threat to communities in the region that rely on subsistence and commercial salmon fishing, including Chignik, Chignik Lake, Chignik Lagoon, Ivanof Bay and Perryville.

"Chignik is used to catching more than a million sockeye every year. This year, they caught 128 fish,” Gov. Walker said in the statement. “Salmon is the economic and subsistence staple in these communities and the failure of this year’s fishery is a one-two punch. It is critical that we do what we can to support them as they work to recover: that’s what we’re here for.”

The disaster declaration allows for the appropriation of disaster-relief funds and assistance grants by the Legislature, as well as for the governor to provide new funding for both new and existing capital projects.

According to the release, the governor directed the Division of Economic Development to commit resources to assist Commercial Fishing Revolving Loan participants who may fall short on their loans as a result of Chignik's low harvest numbers.