Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - With the closure of chinook and chum salmon fishing in the Yukon River due to poor returns, donations of salmon to families in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region are being coordinated by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
At the direction of Gov. Mike Dunleavy, The department is working with various entities to fly donated fish to Emmonak and Fairbanks for distribution to villages along the Yukon River.
Entities working with the state in the effort include Sea Share, Alaska General Seafoods, Leader Creek Fisheries, North Pacific Seafoods, Ocean Beauty Icicle, Silver Bay Seafoods, Trident Seafoods, Lynden, Northern Air Cargo, Everts, and Alaska Air.
Kwik’pak, the Association of Village Council Presidents, and Tanana Chiefs Conference are also helping with the distribution.
Gov. Dunleavy said It is great to see Alaskans work together to help other Alaskans in need.
“Communities in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region rely on good salmon runs as a means to feed their families year-round, and they have undoubtedly felt the impact this year due to poor returns. The donations by the seafood processors, the transportation of the fish by Alaska’s cargo industry, and the coordination of the delivery of the fish to the villages by the various associations demonstrates what can be accomplished when help is needed," Dunleavy said.
Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Doug Vincent-Lang, said that the closures of chinook and chum salmon fishing in the area were necessary to protect and preserve the salmon runs, but said it resulted in families not being able to practice their traditions and to catch salmon to put away for the winter.
“This decision was difficult knowing the impact it would have on families along the Yukon River. However, it was necessary to ensure future generations could benefit from these resources," Vincent-Lang said.
In the meantime, the Department has recently opened fishing for pink, sockeye, and coho salmon as well as several non-salmon species using selective gear.
“We recognize the importance of chinook and chum salmon to the people of the Yukon. While we cannot provide fishing opportunities for these species this year, we hope that these opportunities will help fill people’s freezers.”
Gov. Dunleavy approved the use of additional funds to purchase more fish and asked the Department of Fish and Game to continue working with Sea Share and others to purchase and distribute more fish in the coming weeks.