In the world of fisheries, the regulatory side serves as the framework for the production side, and one link involves guiding fishermen and their communities in how to navigate the unpredictable seas of policy.
Heather McCarty is the fisheries analyst for the borough and city and calls into Kodiak Fisheries Work Group meetings regularly. She says she also provides information and training on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council process. She explains the council provides direction to the National Marine Fisheries Service, which in turn runs the federal fisheries in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea, and she furthermore attends North Pacific Fishery Management Council meetings.
McCarty compares herself to a lobbyist.
“That is really part of my job is to represent their interests and represent their point of view in all of these regulatory circumstances and then to educate and help people back in Kodiak understand what’s going on in all these regulatory processes.”
McCarty says she’s worked for processing companies and trade associations and has been involved in fisheries consultation as part of her own business for about 12 years. She’s also been a teacher, a marketer, and a journalist. She explains how she got to know the fishing industry in part through newspapers.
“My first fishing work was really writing about fisheries in the old Alaska Fisherman’s Journal and doing freelance stuff and then working at the Cordova times and writing fish stories every week.”
She says, at this point in her career, she gravitates towards fishing communities.
“I think it’s particularly important that communities in Alaska – coastal communities in Alaska – have a voice in these regulatory processes, because, you know, they always say when they’re doing a new action, for example at the federal level. They say, well, this is going to be a three-legged stool. It’s gonna be for the harvesters, it’s gonna be for the processors, and it’s going to be for the community, and we want to hear from all three.”
She describes her dedication to the small communities she represents.
“It’s really important to me being an Alaskan for forty years that the community get their say and get their seat at the table, and that seems to be what I care about the most. I mean, when I say seems to be, that’s because it’s what I’m doing. I’m doing it for the community of Kodiak I hope, and also working for other communities in the Bering Sea.”
McCarty says one recent discussion topic at the Fisheries Work Group is Kodiak’s small boat fleet and facilities fishermen have expressed a need for – like a public dock, a municipal crane, and an ice house. She says the work group also holds a lot of conversations about the current Gulf Trawl Bycatch Management action that’s before the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. If you’d like to see the work group’s process yourself, its next monthly meeting is scheduled for February 24.