Kodiak Fishermen to Protest Navy Training

A graphic of the protest planned for Saturday. Via Tom Lance at the Sun’aq Tribe

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

In response to the news of Navy training this summer in the Gulf of Alaska, Kodiak fishermen together with the Sun’aq Tribe will hold a water-based protest Saturday afternoon.    

Tom Lance is the Natural Resources Director of the Sun’aq Tribe of Kodiak and the organizer behind the Kodiak Protest Flotilla. He says the activity on Portlock Bank to the east of Kodiak Island will disturb migrating salmon and other species and he hopes the protest will influence a location and schedule change.

“We want to tell the Navy that, no, they shouldn’t do it there. Take it off-shore at least a couple of hundred nautical miles and at a different time when the salmon aren’t swimming by,” says Lance.

He says a better time might be late September after the primary salmon runs are done. He says although the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process is finished as far as the Navy is concerned, protesters can still make a difference.

“If enough people protest and talk to their congressional delegation, the Navy will probably have to pay attention and make some sort of accommodations for our concerns,” says Lance. “And then the last thing is that tribes are sovereign nations and they can invoke the right for a government to government consultation and, indeed, Sun’aq tribe has already asked for a government to government consultation requesting more discussion about this.”

Dave Kubiak, a fisherman who’s been in Kodiak since the 60s, says he understands the importance of Navy training, but takes issue with its effect on commercial fishing.

“It’s just really irresponsible of the Navy to have practice during the summer during salmon migration. That’s my biggest gripe,” says Kubiak.

He says he’s concerned that not many fishermen will show up due to timing.

“Everybody’s under the gun in terms of getting ready to go salmon fishing. There’s a widespread panic throughout town because the potential opener is coming up and everybody’s scrambling to get ready, so it’s not a very convenient time, but I’m hoping everybody’ll show up, because they might have some affect,” says Kubiak.

You can join the protest at 2 p.m. Saturday. Pedestrian protestors can stand on Pier II and vessels should face it, raft-up, and tune into VHF Channel 79.

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