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U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Announces $5 Million for Yukon River Chinook Fishery Disaster Assistance

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, September 17, 2010

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U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke Announces $5 Million for Yukon River Chinook Fishery Disaster Assistance

Secretary Locke today announced the awarding of $5 million in federal disaster relief to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission to assist with the recovery of fishing communities and fisheries from a commercial fishery failure in the Yukon River Chinook salmon fishery.

The Commission will use the funding, which Congress approved and the President signed as part of Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2010, to provide financial assistance to Yukon River salmon fishermen and to pay for replacing one type of fishing gear with another that allows for more adult females to swim upriver and spawn.

“Fishermen and their families have been struggling in recent years because of the low Chinook salmon returns on the Yukon River,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “The Alaskan delegation worked hard to ensure that this funding was approved by Congress to provide much needed assistance to fishermen and their families and put in place gillnet gear that aids in the long-term conservation of salmon.”

In January, Locke made the official commercial fishery failure determination for the Yukon River Chinook salmon fishery due to low salmon returns in 2008 and 2009, which resulted in a 2008 commercial harvest that was 89 percent below the recent five-year average. There was no commercial harvest in 2009 and the state restricted the subsistence harvest.

While the reasons for the decline in Chinook salmon are not completely understood, scientists believe changes in ocean and river conditions, including unfavorable shifts in temperatures and food sources, are likely factors.

The Commerce secretary’s determination led the way for Congress to approve disaster funding as part of the Supplemental Budget bill, which was signed into law by President Obama on July 29.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Visit us at http://www.noaa.gov or on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/usnoaagov.