Facing two consecutive years of poor salmon runs, Gov. Tony Knowles has declared western Alaska a disaster area and outlined a $19 million aid package for fishermen and communities.
Nearly half of the money will pay for food, fuel and electricity for families who depend on fishing for income or food. Emergency funds also will be used to buy food for the Bering Sea communities of Chevak, Hooper Bay and Scammon Bay.State officials say the El Nino weather phenomenon caused unusually warm water in the sea for the past two years, harming the salmon runs in Bristol Bay. Knowles also asked for more federal aid, comparing the poor fishing to agricultural disasters in other parts of the country this summer.