This is Fish Radio. I’m Stephanie Mangini.  Kodiak voiced concerns over groundfish catch shares. Hear more after this…

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Federal managers are set to craft a bycatch reduction plan for trawl groundfish fisheries in the Gulf and it will include some form of catch share plan.   Local fishermen packed a ComFish forum to learn and share opinions on the new program.

“Obviously there is a lot of work to do. I am going to be involved in the process to see how this all gets fleshed out. We have got some obvious problems and I am hoping that the council really does focus on the by catch aspect of this before we move forward. I mean there is a lot of other problems besides by catch, but if you polled everyone in this room I think they would say by catch is of the utmost importance. Certainly for us fixed gear guys.”

“There is a piece missing. So far we have had the tendency to try to fix things on the back end. We need to plug in an inner media body that you allocate the quota too that then takes care of there regional issues by themselves, other than having the council trying to shoot backwards at these regional issues after they have designed the programs”

Fishermen fear the negative effects catch shares could have on the industry and the community of Kodiak.

“If it goes the way the other rationalization programs have gone, we will see consolidation and lease fees. Just in the crab fishery we lost two hundred and forty jobs, and then everybody got their pay diminished by at least 80%.”

“We have seen the positives and negatives of past programs and they are obvious. So the council at least has something to go on to maybe not make the same mistakes.”

“Concentration of fishing rights in fewer peoples hands ans concentration of wealth. The lose of some of our fleet, the lose of opportunity for employment. And it possibly bringing the entire town down. To many more hits like this and we will be moving somewhere else.”

A few things fishermen would like to see in the program are…

“I think they should split it up evenly. Where everyone gets the same amount and that’s it. there is no history there is nothing you just get your fair share and that’s it.”

“I would like to see individual by catch limits. So if you fish dirty then your done.  Performance based.”

The groundfish program will not mirror other Alaska catch share plans.

“As council member Fields mentioned, The time has come to learn from our past experiences in developing these programs as we develop this new program. I don’t think we should be afraid to do things in a new and innovative way.”

The Council will start developing the groundfish plan in June.

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, celebrating 101 years of partnership with Alaska’s coastal communities.  In Kodiak, I’m Stephanie Mangini.