Fisheries disaster declaration sought

Associated PressJuly 12, 2012 

JUNEAU -- Alaska's congressional delegation wants the acting U.S. Commerce secretary to declare a federal fisheries disaster for the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

The delegation says weak salmon runs have forced the state to implement "burdensome" conservation measures in commercial, sport and subsistence fisheries.

There's concern about the impact of closures on communities that depend on subsistence. The Alaska Federation of Natives passed a resolution seeking a disaster declaration and access to aid for affected tribes.

The Commerce secretary can declare a fisheries disaster without the state asking.

Sen. Mark Begich had asked the governor for a state declaration. His office now says this is only needed for certain types of aid. Still, a Begich spokeswoman said having the state and delegation in alignment makes a stronger case when seeking federal help.

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