Kodiak fishermen are happy with their career choice, but not so pleased with programs that carve up the catches.  That pretty much sums up the findings in a multi-year study that aimed to gauge how Kodiak fishermen feel about privatizing the resource through things like catch shares and IFQs.

    “I was trying to understand also how people thought about privatization compared to other kinds changes in the community and then also looking at how people thought about privatization in terms of its affects on individual and community well being.”

Courtney Carothers is an assistant professor at College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences.  A main finding in the study was that all fishermen, from the newest deckhands to the oldest highliners,  shared common work values.  

   “They tended to talk about how if you’re able to work hard you should be able to achieve success in the fisheries. If you don’t have a lot of money should be able access opportunities in fishing. People really value that as sort of a fundamental feature of fisheries. And also that fisheries should be fairly managed, and so if there’s one group that seems to benefiting at the expense of others, people tended to think that was not appropriate for fisheries management.”

Privatization programs erode those values, many said.  And fishermen were almost unanimous in their lack of enthusiasm.     

 “We didn’t find any difference in terms of owners suggesting that privatization was really positive and crews saying it was really negative, we saw really similar results across all categories of fisheries participants and also across in terms of how long people had participated in the fishery. The only group that we found a little bit of difference was people who identified their primary fishery as pollock. In the survey we conducted, we did find a little bit more support for privatization in term of opinion questions we asked on the survey. That was one group that statistically varied from the other groups.”

The biggest take away message, Carothers said, is that fishermen are happy with their jobs and would choose it again

 “Many academics have studied this question and it shows really across the globe fishermen value being able to be their own bosses and to be able to be in control of their fishing operation, or their work if they’re a crew, and so that in our study was also found to be high. People value that ability to be their own boss especially.”