Kodiak City Hears From Crabbers, Trawlers Over Proposed Area Closures


Jacob Resneck/KMXT

The city of Kodiak addressed a contentious issue that’s dividing many in the fishing community. At issue are proposed closures off the east of Kodiak Island that could prohibit trawling groundfish in some areas to conserve Tanner crab populations.

The city council heard competing arguments from trawlers and crab fishermen who offered conflicting accounts over whether trawling for groundfish is hurting Tanner crab populations.

Last week a group of trawlers brought the issue to the city council, which agreed to schedule Wednesday’s special meeting so it could weigh-in in time for next month’s North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Anchorage.

But the fishing community didn’t speak with one voice.

And crab fishermen like Stosh Anderson told the city council that drastic measures are necessary.

(fishing1) :21 "I think the … rebounding stocks."

At last year’s meeting a series of disturbing photos were offered by a former deckhand that showed hundreds of Tanner crabs killed as bycatch.

But trawlers argued that the photos were not representative of the whole fleet. And Chandler Johnson, skipper of the fishing vessel Walter N said the impacts on Tanner crab populations are overstated.

(fishing2) :23 "Millions of pounds … with good fishing."

More than two dozen people spoke with the crowd almost evenly divided for and against.

City Councilman Terry Haines, a commercial fisherman himself, suggested the city defer to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

(fishing3) :22 "I really don’t … do their work."

Councilman Tom Walters said he agreed that the city shouldn’t second guess the fishery council. He suggested the city draft a letter urging the fishery council to proceed carefully because of the economic impact on Kodiak’s trawl fleet.

(fishing4) :16 "If indeed they … that’s what I would say."

After two hours of testimony and deliberations, the city council unanimously voted to draft its letter. It will urge the fishery council to take into account economic impacts of any actions. They city also endorses federal funding for expanded on-deck observer programs. The letter will be hand-delivered next month.

Councilman John Whiddon was absent from the meeting.

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