(Homer) - The application deadline for fishermen to apply for the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program through the Department of Agriculture has been extended. The concern that individual fishermen must get their applications in by August 31st is no longer an issue. Instead, the United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA) intends to file a petition on behalf of the entire salmon industry in Alaska by the August 31st deadline. Once this petition is approved and the Alaska salmon industry is officially considered to have been adversely affected by imported farmed salmon, individual fishermen will have ninety days after October 1st to apply for the assistance. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is confident that this petition will be approved (see attached Sen. Murkowski press release for more info).
Fishermen should know that there are two TAA programs. One is through the Department of Labor and focuses on retraining fishermen for new employment. Interested fishermen can obtain this application from my office. The other TAA program is through the Department of Agriculture and focuses on technical assistance and direct monetary aid. It is this second program that Sen. Lisa Murkowski managed to get fishermen added to. These applications should be available in my office and on line at www.fas.usda.gov by the end of this week. Again, fishermen should wait to file their individual applications for the Department of Agriculture program until the UFA statewide petition has been approved.
On the topic of salmon disaster relief funds, the Alaska Department of Labor and the Governor's office are considering another round of payments to affected fishermen meeting income qualifications. This would be an extension of the Governor's "Fisheries Revitalization" efforts. The application deadline for this program has been extended indefinitely, but fishermen that have not applied already should do so as soon as possible. Anyone involved in the salmon industry that did not receive a letter and application from the state asking them to apply for the assistance should call the Alaska Department of Labor Office of Unemployment Insurance at 907-465-5929 or Paul Kinslow at 907-465-5948 and explain that they have been overlooked.