Fish & Game discusses where to spend disaster funding for crabbing fisheries

Discussions around how to distribute disaster funds to those affected by fishery disasters took place this week.
Published: Jun. 15, 2023 at 7:00 PM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Alaska Department of Fish and Game hosted a second meeting to discuss how to distribute funds to fisheries that experienced disaster in recent years, with Thursday’s meeting focusing on Bristol Bay red king crab and Bering Sea snow crab fisheries.

Much of the discussion centered around the division of payments between the vessel and crew members, with several people calling for 60% to go to the vessel and 40% to the crew, rather than a 70/30 split.

“The boat I’m on and have been on for many years, we’re the same on any crab fishery — it’s always 60 to the boat and 40 to the humans,” fisherman Mike Mathisen said.

There were also discussions about how the funds would be distributed as a whole, with several calling for more money to go to communities affected by the disasters.

“These two fisheries — the snow crab and the king crab fisheries — are our two most important crab fisheries to communities, they’re largest revenue generators for communities, including not just fish tax revenues, but sales tax from the sale of fuel and groceries and stuff from crew, employment in the community,” Unalaska’s Frank Kelty said.

Others who participated said that active harvesters cannot be left behind.

“As a harvester that’s actively fishing, I think that we need consideration because we’re the ones that support the communities,” Charlie Rehder said.

Thursday was the second day for public comment which focused on:

  • 2021/22 Bristol Bay red king crab and Bering Sea snow crab fisheries — $94,489,726 in assistance
  • 2022/23 Bristol Bay red king crab and Bering Sea snow crab fisheries — $96,621,465 in assistance

The first meeting on this subject took place Wednesday, with discussions in place for:

  • 2020 Prince William Sound pink and coho fisheries — $15,730,357 in assistance
  • 2021 Chignik salmon fishery — $4,989,902 in assistance
  • 2021 Kuskokwim and Norton Sound salmon fisheries — $1,268,317 in assistance
  • 2020 and 2021 Norton Sound red king crab fisheries — $2,804,214 in assistance

The funds were announced last month and come from the Secretary of Commerce, addressing fishery failures that happened across the state.

While the exact date that funds will be distributed isn’t set in place, Karla Bush, extended jurisdiction program manager of Fish and Game, says her best estimate is sometime in 2024.

Those who want to provide comment on a specific fishery can do so by emailing the department at or by submitting comment on the ADF&G website.

Comments will be taken until June 30, at which point Fish and Game will begin drafting spending plans. Comments received after June 30 will affect the upcoming second draft of spending plans.