Southeast Families Receive 49,000 Pounds of Salmon to Help with Difficult Season

Image courtesy of Chenara Johnson, #SealaskaWayOfLife photo contest participant

This month, a partnership between Sealaska and the Alaska Longline Fisheries Association (ALFA) will result in the distribution of 49,000 pounds of salmon to families reliant on subsistence fishing from Yakutat to Hydaburg.

ALFA received a $250,000 grant from the Alaska Community Foundation and Catch Together, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that helps small-scale fishing communities ensure long-term, sustainable fisheries. After receiving the funding, ALFA Executive Director Linda Behnken started reaching out to communities in the region to assess the need, and immediately realized the $250,000 wasn’t going to go far enough.

Sealaska learned about the distribution from Behnken and quickly contributed an additional 18,000 pounds of salmon from Sealaska subsidiary Orca Bay Seafoods, a value of $126,000. The total of $376,000 was enough to buy 49,000 pounds of salmon for distribution to the following communities:

  • Angoon (8,000 pounds) – Estimated to arrive on Saturday, Sept. 26
  • Hydaburg (8,000 pounds) – Estimated to arrive on Saturday, Sept. 26
  • Kake (5,000 pounds) – Estimated to arrive on Friday, Sept. 25
  • Klawock (5,000 pounds) – Estimated to arrive on Saturday, Sept. 26
  • Sitka (5,000 pounds) – Estimated to arrive on Thursday, Sept. 24
  • Haines and Klukwan (5,000 pounds) – Estimated to arrive on Tuesday, Sept. 22
  • Craig (4,000 pounds) – Estimated to arrive on Wednesday, Sept. 23
  • Hoonah (4,000 pounds) – Estimated to arrive on Thursday, Sept. 24
  • Yakutat (4,000 pounds) – Estimated to arrive on Tuesday, Sept. 22
  • Kasaan (1,000 pounds) – Estimated to arrive on Wednesday, Sept. 23
  • Wrangell (2,000 pounds) – Estimated to arrive on Wednesday, Sept. 23

“We’re proud to support the efforts of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association to help provide much needed food security to communities that rely on subsistence harvest and face high grocery costs,” said Mallott.

“This couldn’t have happened without a team of organizations that care about our communities and worked hard for them at a time of need. I would like to thank the Alaska Community Foundation and Catch Together for providing the grant funding and I would also like to recognize our team at Orca Bay for answering the call to help. A special thanks to Alaska Marine Lines for their generous support to help ship the fish to our communities. This salmon will go a long way to helping our communities offset the low salmon returns and supplement their subsistence needs.”

Image courtesy of Heather Powell, #SealaskaWayOfLife photo contest participant

The coronavirus pandemic’s impacts on Alaska’s seafood markets and fish prices coupled with lower-than-expected returns for several species of salmon have been devastating for Southeast Alaskans, in particular commercial and subsistence fishing families.

Pandemic precautions have forced closures and strict limits on capacity at restaurants, resulting in plummeting fresh seafood demand. Meanwhile, salmon returns this season were among the lowest recorded in more than 40 years. Pink salmon have not had a worse year since 1976, and the Alaska Department of Fish & Game reports sockeye catches at 70 percent below 2019 – among the lowest ever. Coho is 50 percent behind last year, and king salmon are 14 percent below 2019.

The above delivery dates are subject to change based on weather. Please check with your local tribes for more information on the distribution plans for your respective community.

Read the release from ALFA here

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