Slide of management process as shown at presentation. Kayla Desroches/KMXT
The complexity of the bycatch management process was one topic of conversation at last night’s presentation with two representatives of the fishing industry. The meeting comes as a preview to today’s community forum on the Gulf Trawl Bycatch Management action before the North Pacific Management Council.
Dr. Mark Fina worked for the council as a regulatory analyst for twelve years and now works for a catcher-processor company that mainly operates in the Bering Sea.
At last night’s presentation, Fina said the simple approach is best.
“I’ve seen management programs where people have made really complex structures that do absolutely nothing, but geez they look good on paper, and people walked out of the room smiling because they said ‘you took care of my problem,’ but the elements of the program nobody understood well enough to even say ‘hold on, this isn’t gonna function,’ or at least some of the people who would have said something didn’t understand well enough how they would function to be able to say ‘stop here, we need something different from what you’re giving us.’”
The other speaker, Josh Stoll said he doesn’t necessarily disagree, but fisheries are inherently complex. To help the audience visualize that, he pulled up a diagram on a monitor. He said it shows the process of developing a fisheries management plan or an amendment process. The slide was packed full of boxes of text and arrows to point out which one belonged to which step.
And as an example, Stoll talked about the interest some industry members expressed in forming a community fishery association or similar group within the Pacific Trawl Rationalization Program.
“Even though that discussion happened for multiple years, in the end, it appears to be that it wasn’t incorporated into the discussion early enough and so the boat sort of left, and it was ended up trying to be added as a trailing amendment, and then decided it was too complex, and so punted down the road and may or may not be considered for the five year review.”
Stoll talked about fishery associations in comparison to fishery communities.
“In a regional fishery association in contrast to a fishery community, they’re not eligible to receive initial allocation, and that has huge implications for, from my perspective, the success of these entities as being sort of viable programs in the long term. As I think we’re all aware, when initial allocation doesn’t happen, it’s awfully difficult for people to acquire and maintain quota.”
He says that’s especially true if they’re limited financially. In addition to addressing the management process itself, the speakers brought up many topics including fair attitudes, allocation rules, and what defines a fishing community.
Those were all topics that attendees heard at today’s community forum, which began at 8:30 a.m.