The Joint Kodiak Fishery Work Group met Monday (Feb. 27) morning to review and vote on approving a letter to be sent to the Alaska Board of Fisheries regarding an intercept fishery study. It’s a letter the group plans to deliver at the Fish Board meeting currently underway in Anchorage.
All four members present, co-Chair Larry LeDoux, fellow borough assemblymen Kyle Crow and Matt Van Daele, and city Councilman John Whiddon, approved the letter, which addresses a genetic study indicating Upper Cook Inlet salmon are caught around Kodiak Island.
Van Daele outlined some of the key points of the letter:
“For those of you who don’t have immediate access to it, or are listening to the radio right now and not looking at it on the internet, ‘Any sudden change to the Kodiak Management Area’s Management Plan based on information that has been readily available for many years would be disruptive and potentially catastrophic to the thousands of individuals and their families whose livelihood depend on responsible and sustainable salmon management in the KMA,’” Van Daele said. “And that’s the key point of our letter. And we also go on to state that all of our communities in Kodiak are salmon-dependent.”
Van Daele said the letter also requests that processors and other groups potentially affected by any change be considered as stakeholders by the Board of Fisheries if a working group is created to look at the genetic study. The vote drew positive response from callers listening on KMXT, which broadcast the brief meeting live.
“I just want to commend you guys for stepping up nice and quick like this and putting a real nice letter together,” said Bruce Schactler in a phone call to the meeting. “I also hope the city and borough can get together like you did 20 years ago when we ended this conversation, we thought, in 1996.”
Schactler said the issue has become even more political in the ensuing two decades. Whiddon agreed.
“This is not a simple issue. This is actually an economic issue, both here in Kodiak, and as it turns out, emergency economies in Cook Inlet and Upper Cook Inlet,” Whiddon said. “So, that then quickly becomes political as you start looking at allocations.”
LeDoux pointed out that there is a request before the Fish Board, which is meeting right now, to fast track a look at the genetic study.
“One of the reasons we’re concerned about the meeting that’s going on right now is a request that they revisit some of the Kodiak fisheries issues outside of the three-years cycle.” LeDoux said. “So that’s what we’re paying attention to right now.”
In general, the Fishery Work Group itself is getting positive reviews.
“My name is Bob Bally, and I’m a commercial fisherman here. And I would just like to take the time to thank the group, the Fisheries Work Group. And to acknowledged that this is an important group and we needed to put this together and have your guys’ support and knowledge and ability to look at our issues, and listen to our emotions, and I just think this is a prime example of how important this group is and how it should continue in our community and I just want to thank you.”
The Board of Fisheries current meeting in Anchorage started Thursday, and lasts until March 8.