WASHINGTON, USA — Senators from Washington and Alaska wrote a letter to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo on Thursday requesting a federal fishery disaster declaration.
This comes after Alaska canceled the Bering Sea snow crab and Bristol Bay red king crab harvest for the first time in U.S. history due to population concerns.
The declaration would be for the 2022-2023 Bering Sea snow crab, the 2022-2023 Bristol Bay red king crab, and the 2021-2022 Bristol Bay red king crab fisheries.
According to the letter, the fishery disaster needs to be declared before Congress can secure assistance for fishing families, businesses and communities that depend on the fisheries.
U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Dan Sullivan (R-AK) were all involved in writing the letter.
“Many of these fishermen and businesses hail from both Alaska and Washington, and the impacts of these fishery disasters extend far beyond our states to consumers across the United States and the world. The State of Alaska estimates the ex-vessel losses from the Bristol Bay red king crab and Bering Sea snow crab fisheries for the 2021/2022 and 2022/2023 seasons to be $287.7 million,” the senators wrote.
The senators wrote that other businesses like suppliers and seafood processors will continue to feel the economic impact.
“Red king crab and snow crab are highly valued commodities traded internationally and relied upon by businesses that advertise these specialty foods at their restaurants and shops. Yet, the longer the disaster declaration and funding process takes, the greater the impact on our fishermen who are already facing incredibly difficult decisions that could include closing their businesses or filing for bankruptcy this year,” they wrote.