Fish Radio
Bristol Bay permit buyback – fishermen like, but how to pay
December 19, 2014       

Salmon fishing at Bristol Bay Credit: ADF&G

Salmon fishing at Bristol Bay
Credit: ADF&G

 This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Fishermen like the idea of permit buybacks at Bristol Bay – but question how to pay for it. More after this –

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 Trimming the number of salmon fishermen at Bristol Bay has been discussed for decades. When limited entry began in the 1970s, the state Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission adopted an optimum number of 1,669 permits for the Bay’s drift gillnet fishery.

Ten years ago, a CFEC study concluded that an optimum range of 900 to 1,400 permits would provide a reasonable balance of economic, conservation and fishery management concerns.

Today there are 1,858 drift permits active at Bristol Bay. A buyback would retire 300 – 500 boats from the fishery.

 At a packed Expo gathering last month in Seattle, a majority of permit holders said that favored reducing the fleet.

 When the question was raised generally of do you support a fleet reduction, probably 2/3 of the folks raised their hands. Then when the question was focused down to how many of you prefer a buyback, that dropped to about a third. 

 Sue Aspelund is director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, operated and funded by fishermen with a one percent tax on their catches. At issue is how to pay for a permit buyback. It would likely come in the form of a federal loan to be repaid by the fleet.

Aspelund says the RSDA will survey the drift permit holders again to see if they want a second study to analyze the socio-economic impacts of a buyout .

 I think that’s the study that a lot of people, especially in the Bay are really interested in. The take home is how is it going to affect real people living in Alaska who are really dependent on that fishery.  

The RSDA would organize and fund the study, but the group has not taken a position on the permit buyback.

 Thanks to the assist from KDLG in Dillingham.

Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods. Ocean Beauty has contributed over 10 million meals to the U.S. Food Bank network, and is committed to ending hunger in America.   In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.