State steps in to coordinate salmon deliveries to Yukon River communities

The Dunleavy administration directed the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to coordinate salmon deliveries to Yukon River communities.

A fishing vessel full of salmon.
A fisherman on the F/V Cutting Edge on June 30, 2021. (Hope McKenney)

Kwik’Pak Fisheries General Manager Jack Schultheis said 8,000 pounds of salmon arrived at the Emmonak processing plant last week, and the company is preparing to distribute the fish to lower Yukon River communities.

The delivery is the first in what is expected to be a string of salmon shipments along the river, after low runs have meant no subsistence fishing for king or chum salmon on the Yukon River this summer.

On July 22, the state did finally open subsistence fishing for other salmon species, including pink, red and coho, for the first time this season.

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To help get food in fish racks and freezers, the Dunleavy administration is helping to coordinate deliveries of salmon donations from Alaska-based processors to Yukon River communities. It is working with nonprofits, including SeaShare, and shippers to make it happen.

Dunleavy spokesman Jeff Turner said the administration has allocated $75,000 to purchase king and chum salmon from Alaska processors to add to what’s being donated to communities, and is asking the Tanana Chiefs Conference to match those funds.

The Tanana Chiefs Conference is helping distribute the fish to communities along the middle Yukon River near Fairbanks. On the lower Yukon River, the Association of Village Council Presidents and Kwik’Pak are helping share fish into the community.

The exact amount of salmon that will be sent to Yukon River communities has not been confirmed.

“We are still collecting quotes from seafood processors,” Turner said. “The governor’s goal is to maximize the amount of fish that can be donated.”

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Anna Rose MacArthur is a reporter at KYUK in Bethel.