Bill could provide fishing disaster relief to region

by Mark Arehart on December 13, 2012

According to Alaska U.S. Senator Mark Begich, YK Delta communities that declared fishery disasters could see some financial relief if a bill passes through congress.

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The disaster relief bill is predominantly focused on providing support for the extensive damage caused to the east coast by super storm sandy.

But Begich said, he has worked with fellow senator Lisa Murkowski to “get in the bill $150 million for declared fishery disasters in Alaska, New England and in the Gulf of Mexico because all of us have had some disasters.”

A fishery disaster has been declared by the Association of Village Council Presidents, which represents 56 villages throughout the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta. Disasters have also been declared in the Kenai Peninsula and in the Matanuska-Susitna boroughs.

But the senator said the bill is anything but a done deal.

“Now it will go to the senate floor and then over to the house. And there is a lot of interest in doing this, it’s not like it’s just a few people are affected in New York and New Jersey because that’s the biggest chunk of money—it’s a pretty broad sweep. So we now have to make our case on the floor to win and then make sure the house votes for it,” Begich said.

He said he has confidence in the bill’s bipartisan support.

“So I give it a fighting chance. What I know about activity in the senate here… things can change overnight but I feel really good (that) we’re starting here.”

If the bill is pushed through, Begich says he isn’t sure how big a slice Alaska would get out of that proposed $150 million pie, but that state officials would parcel out relief to the affected communities.

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