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SEATTLE (AP) – The U.S. Commerce Department’s disaster declaration for some salmon and shrimp fisheries in Washington and Alaska opens the door to financial relief as part of an across-the-board spending bill being negotiated by U.S. lawmakers.

Friday’s declaration includes the Bristol Bay king crab harvest, which has been suspended for two years, and the snow crab harvest, which will be canceled for the first time in 2023. Also included are 2021 from the Kusokwim River in Alaska. the Times reported.

Congressional delegations in Washington and Alaska can now try to secure funds in an omnibus bill that must be passed to fund the US government through the fiscal year that ends on September 30. them.

“I appreciate all efforts to speed up this process. The next step is up to Congress,” said Jamie Goen, CEO of Bering Sea Crabbers of Alaska, which hopes to receive aid that could top $280 million for the crab industry and communities where the catch is processed.

A Department of Commerce disaster declaration, under federal law, can be made for a failure of a commercial fishery, such as a failure beyond the control of fishery managers.

Some fisheries in Washington and Alaska have been affected by marine heat waves that appear to have reduced the survival rates of some species, such as snow crab populations that collapsed after temperatures rose in the Bering Sea.

Disaster relief funds will go to the Commerce Department, which will then distribute the aid through NOAA Fisheries, the newspaper reported.

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