Fewer than two dozen people have applied for compensation for lost income from commercial fishing closures in Glacier Bay, according to the National Park Service.
The application period for a share of $23 million in federal funds began Sept. 28 and will close Jan. 28. Incomplete or late applications won't be accepted, park service officials have said.
Program Manager Ronald Dick said he expected up to 400 applications. He urged people to apply early because the park service may ask for more information to complete their documentation.
He said he expected most applications to come in near the closing date.
"We would like for that not to happen. The deadline is the deadline," Dick said last week.
Following a federal law, part of Glacier Bay was closed to commercial fishing in 1999, and by 2000 other sections only were open to certain fishermen in selected fisheries until they retire. After that, the bay will be closed entirely to commercial fishing.
Applicants must show a history of earnings derived from the bay's fisheries to be eligible for part of the $23 million Congress appropriated in 1999 to compensate people for lost future earnings.
The money will go to fishing-permit holders and crew members, processing companies and their workers, other affected businesses, and communities near the bay.
Park service officials held many public meetings about the program in Southeast. It mailed applications to people who said they intended to file for compensation and to those roughly 200 fishermen who have lifetime access permits to fish in the bay. The latter must apply separately for compensation.
The state Department of Fish and Game also mailed information about the compensation program to 3,000 people who were involved in the bay's fisheries, Dick said.
Awareness of the program is high in Petersburg, said Cora Crome, executive director of the Petersburg Vessel Owners Association.
"Everybody in town knows about it," she said. "It's not really complicated."
But "it takes some time digging through old records," or contacting former skippers or the state for fishing records, and that may be why so few people have applied so far, she said.
Information on the program is available at www.nps.gov/glba/ or by mail from Glacier Bay National Park at 2770 Sherwood Lane, Suite I, Juneau 99801, or by calling (907) 586-7027.
Eric Fry can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.