A study by a University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences professor attempted to gauge how Kodiak fishermen felt about the privatization of the fishery resource. As associate professor Courtney Carothers explains, the study sought to find out more than just if they liked privatization or not.
“I was trying to understand also how people thought about privatization compared to other kinds changes in the community and then also looking at how people though about privatization in terms of its affects on individual and community well being.”
Carothers said one of the main findings was that fishermen of all kinds, from the newest crewman to the biggest high-liner shared core values such as hard work, opportunity and fairness.
“They tended to talk about how if you’re able to work hard you should be able to achieve success in the fisheries. If you don’t have a lot of money should be able access opportunities in fishing. People really value that as sort of a fundamental feature of fisheries. And also that fisheries should be fairly managed, and so if there’s one group that seems to benefiting at the expense of others, people tended to think that was not appropriate for fisheries management.”
She said that several people in the surveys and interviews said that privatization could be eroding the core values that so many of them share.
“We didn’t find any difference in terms of owners suggesting that privatization was really positive and crews saying it was really negative, we saw really similar results across all categories of fisheries participants and also across in terms of how long people had participated in the fishery. The only group that we found a little bit of difference was people who identified their primary fishery as pollock. In the survey we conducted, we did find a little bit more support for privatization in term of opinion questions we asked on the survey. That was one group that statistically varied from the other groups
Beyond an almost universal belief that fisheries privatization is not ideal, Kodiak fishermen, like their counterparts elsewhere, were found to be pretty satisfied to be fishermen.
“Many academics have studied this question and it shows really across the globe fishermen value being able to be their own bosses and to be able to be in control of their fishing operation, or their work if they’re a crew, and so that in our study was also found to be high. People value that ability to be their own boss especially.”
Carothers next study is the graying of the fleet, concentrating on Bristol Bay and again on Kodiak.