Fisheries projects throughout the state would receive a boost in the Legislature's budget.
The Legislature's fiscal year 2014 capital budget included more than $12 million to study Alaska's fisheries, much of it for work in Cook Inlet including drainages in the Matanuska-Susitna borough.
Topping the list of projects was $7.5 million for Gov. Sean Parnell's Chinook Salmon Research Initiative. In Parnell's version of the budget, that item came in at $10 million. Parnell's research initiative included an additional $20 million over the subsequent four years, for a total $30 million, five-year effort.
The initiative, which was a response to declining king salmon runs throughout the state, is meant to look at what was happening to the salmon. As proposed, the undertaking would look at 12 indicator river systems from Southeast Alaska to the Arctic, gain a better understanding of the factors affecting salmon, and offer strategies to enhance viability and increase returns.
The budget would also include $2.5 million to look at Susitna River drainage salmon and $2 million for king salmon in Northern Cook Inlet.
Those projects would be undertaken by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, or ADFG.
ADFG's Susitna drainage project would look at research, restoration and enhancement, while the Northern Cook Inlet funding is specifically for enhancement.
ADFG Deputy Commissioner Kevin Brooks said additional research would receive funding in the Legislature's operating budget, as subcommittees added money for certain work that wasn't part of ADFG's request. That research includes sampling, salmon enhancement, monitoring escapements and genetics work.
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