In the heat of the salmon disaster this summer, Gov. Parnell announced that a group of "top fisheries scientists” would be assembled by this fall to develop a research plan to learn more about the decline. The team would address gaps in knowledge, and to make recommendations about improving future runs. The composition of the Chinook Dream Team has not been public knowledge until recently.
In August, Gov. Sean Parnell sent a letter to acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank, requesting a disaster declaration and federal funds to soften the economic disaster resulting from particularly dismal Chinook salmon runs on the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers and all around Cook Inlet. On Thursday, Secretary Blank granted the disaster declaration request, allowing Congress to decide on the amount of the check. On Friday, Parnell spokeswoman Sharon Leighow said that economic damages are actually higher than originally estimated. Taking damages to Cook Inlet set-netters into account, total economic harm should exceed $10 million.
According to an email from Leighow to fisheries blog Deckboss, the king salmon crash dream team is being led by Alaska Department of Fish and Game chief fisheries scientists Eric Volk and Bob Clark. The other members' names may tempt some to imagine research questions that may be developing. But really, who knew an anthropologist was one of Alaska's "top fisheries scientists"?