Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, from Alaska, and Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, from Washington, are the U.S. Senators signatories to a new letter sent to Secretary of Commerce Raimondo urging her to promptly declare a federal fisheries disaster for the 2022-2023 Bering Sea snow crab, 2022-2023 Bristol Bay red king crab, and 2021-2022 Bristol Bay red king crab fisheries. “The aforementioned disasters deserve immediate consideration due to the fact that no harvest occurred”, the letter said.
Disaster goes far beyond Alaska
“Many of these fishermen and businesses hail from both Alaska and Washington, and the impacts of these fishery disasters extend far beyond our states to consumers across the United States and the world”, they continued. As they remarked in the letter, the State of Alaska estimates ex-vessel losses for the Bristol Bay red king crab and Bering Sea snow crab fisheries for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 seasons to be $287.7 million.
But that’s just the direct losses. “The economic impact to downstream businesses such as seafood processors, gear suppliers, shipyards, and other downstream businesses will be even greater”, they claimed. “Red king crab and snow crab are highly valued commodities traded internationally and relied upon by businesses that advertise these specialty foods at their restaurants and shops”.
Growing list of support for crabbers
The four senators who signed the letter, think that the longer the process of declaring and funding the catastrophe takes, the greater the impact on fishermen in both states. In fact, they are already facing difficult decisions that could include closing their businesses or declaring bankruptcy this year. “Declaring a fishery disaster for the Bering Sea snow crab and Bristol Bay red king crab fisheries as quickly as possible is critical to support these fishery stakeholders and their communities”, they said.
Senators are the latest to join the ever-growing list of support for crabbers. Since led by Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, the harvesters, processors, and communities of the Bering Sea crab fisheries requested a fishery disaster declaration, the endorsements have been pouring in. This latest petition joins that already sent to Secretary Raimondo by Alaska Governor, Mike Dunleavy, and the one Alaska representative in the U.S. House, Mary Sattler Peltola, sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro.