Kodiak’s Fisheries Work Group is calling on various fishing gear types, sectors and community members to take part in an upcoming. In October the North Pacific Fishery Management Council released a series of alternatives and options for Gulf of Alaska trawl bycatch management, and the work group, which is made up of city council and borough assembly members, is looking to hear what folks think about those various options.
During the work group’s meeting last week, Councilman John Whiddon suggested bringing representatives from various sectors to the table for discussion.
“I don’t think we can profess to understand trawl economics or processor economics and what the implications actually mean. But the various components – the processing sector, the harvesting sector, have a much better understanding than we do – why not have an open discussion with them about these various elements of the motion and how it relates to the industry, how we can collectively come to a decision that doesn’t necessarily disadvantage any of them – I understand that there’ll be need for compromise at some point. But I think that we need to engage meaningfully with the people that actually do the work.”
City Mayor Pat Branson said she liked that idea, but didn’t feel it was appropriate for the work group to choose who those representatives should be.
“I think those groups need to choose, not us.”
Rather than having a general call for comments, the work group decided to instead have interested groups and sectors submit a presentation request to the clerk’s office, detailing what they would like to speak and who they will be representing. Additional people will still have the opportunity to voice their opinions during public comment, but as Whiddon said, the selected representatives will actually have a seat at the table.
“I think it’s really important for the folks who would come to be able to roll up their sleeves and be willing to dialogue on what is important to them and how they view this process, how they view the outcomes and what’s important that they need out of these outcomes. And see where we agree, see where we disagree, and then see how we can come to some level of agreement, if not now but in the future. So we can then go back with a letter that we produce, or a document we produce, that is going to be really more substantial than us just sitting around the table then us just sitting around the table and saying whether we like F, or G or H, based on whatever reason we have. It’s actually based on factual information from the people actually involved in the industry.”
Kodiak’s Duncan Fields sits on the fishery management council and attended last week’s work group meeting. He cautioned the group about getting too detailed in its review of the council’s bycatch alternatives, noting that they are all still very much under heavy analysis.
“If the city and the borough drill into this and begin making choices in advance of the analysis, you’re really making a public statement that we don’t care about the facts, we’re going to make our choice as a community. You’re way too soon in terms of the council process to begin drilling into a particular section and begin making choices. The call, should you make a call, needs to be are these sections inclusive of all the reasonable options, do these sections need to be refined in some way, or expanded.”
Members of the work group agreed with Fields, and noted that this is just the beginning for them, too. The Fisheries Work Group will put a call out for speakers starting in December in anticipation of its January 7 meeting, where it hopes to have representatives selected and a more in depth conversation about the council’s bycatch management alternatives.