Feds declare fisheries disaster for Yukon River

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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has declared a fishery disaster because of low Chinook salmon returns along Alaska’s Yukon River.

Locke made the announcement Friday during an appearance in Anchorage after informing Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell in a phone call.

Locke said the 2008 commercial Chinook salmon harvest was 89 percent below the five-year average. There was no commercial fishery allowed in 2009 because of low returns.

He says he knows Alaska fishermen and their families are struggling.

The declaration does not open up federal money but could pave the way for congressional appropriations.