JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska will receive $50 million in federal coronavirus aid for fisheries, the U.S. Department of Commerce has announced, about half what state officials had expected.
Alaska is home to large stocks of pollock, an inexpensive fish used in fast-food sandwiches and fish sticks, and landed 58% of the nation’s seafood by volume in 2018, officials said.
Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy and his administration expected the state to receive about $100 million, or one-third of the $300 million allocated to fisheries in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act because of the state’s contributions to the industry, Anchorage Daily News reported Friday.
State officials even requested in advance that the state Legislature budget and audit committee give it authority to accept the expected federal aid. It has not yet been granted authority.
The state Department of Fish and Game would be responsible for funding distribution to commercial, subsistence and sport fishermen affected by the pandemic if the $50 million is approved.
The administration is in the process of reviewing the allocation, said Jeff Turner, the governor’s deputy communications director.
Despite Alaska’s expectations, the amount ties with Washington state for the most money given to any state.
“We’re pleased this crucial industry to our state is going receive necessary relief to help keep them afloat, and we will be focused on securing additional resources for fisheries in the next coronavirus bill,” Alaska’s congressional delegation said in a joint statement.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death. The vast majority of people recover.