This is Fish Radio. I’m Stephanie Mangini. Gulf of Alaska By-catch and the observer program are in the hot seat. Hear more after this . . .
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Starting today, the North Pacific Council is hashing out some very hot issues. On top of the agenda is the expanded observer program. Many feel that the low coverage on the higher by catch rate fisheries is not enough and hope to see more coverage given to the Gulf trawl fleet. More observation will get better data, which will help in the reduction of by-catch. Many want to see even bigger changes made in by-catch management. The Alaska Marine Conservation Council along with the Gulf of Alaska Communities Coalition have brought a new concept to the table. A Community Fishing Association, Kodiak fishermen and advocate Terry Haines explains.
“What the Community Fishing Association would do, it would hold the quota and then it would be distributed in a very similar way that the council would distribute it. It would let the community address their goals to the council in their own unique ways.”
The proposal would give 100% of the Gulf trawl quota to the CFA, then it would be given to the fleet based on fishing history and by catch. The allocation would be decided by the local businesses, processors, harvesters, and representatives from the regional governments.
“Where everyone has to come together at the same table and hammer things out before the council makes their allocation decisions, I think it would stream line the process. It could be a very valuable tool for the council and it could allow for the fishermen to be more prosperous and let them fish more carefully and more selectively with less by catch.”
Haines says it will allow the communities to be a part of their resource.
“Communities are real stake holders both by their traditional dependency on the resource and as real investors in the resource.”
Each new plan, he says, takes a little more away from the livelihood of those who rely on it.
“There has never been a way for our communities to assert themselves as real stake holders in the process after these new programs are in acted. It’s very difficult to pull the arrow out once you have shot that rationalization arrow in.”
Haines and many others hope for this proposal to push through in the next few days.
“This is a completely new idea, but we have to come up with new ideas. Because world wide we are struggling with the economic effects of this new privatized way of managing fisheries.”
Tune into the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council meetings this week at www.npfmc.webex.com
Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, celebrating 101 years of partnership with Alaska’s coastal communities. www.oceanbeauty.com In Kodiak, I’m Stephanie Mangini.