Acting U.S. Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank announced the disaster declaration Thursday for the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers, which flow into the Bering Sea, and for Cook Inlet region south of Anchorage, which includes the Kenai River.
“Some Cook Inlet salmon fisheries have experienced revenue losses of up to 90 percent of their historical average during the 2012 season, seriously hurting local economies that are dependent on fishing,” Blank said in her announcement.
The Yukon River is North America’s third-longest. Villages along the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers depend on chinook salmon for both commercial sales and subsistence needs, Blank said.
King salmon are the largest of the five Pacific salmon that thrive in Alaska waters. They hatch in freshwater streams, live a year in rivers and spend three to four years in ocean water before returning to streams to breed and die. Some spawning Yukon River kings swim more than 2,000 miles over two months across the width of Alaska to reach headwaters in Canada, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
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