Assembly Approves Joint Letter on Gulf Trawl Bycatch Management

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly held a special meeting on Thursday night with one purpose: to review and pass a letter it is sending to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. The letter, being sent in conjunction with the City of Kodiak, is in regards to the rules the fishery council is promulgating to manage Gulf of Alaska trawl bycatch.

Assemblywoman Rebecca Skinner, who serves on the Kodiak Fisheries Work Group, explained the need for the letter at this time.

“It’s both to make sure they remember that we’re at the table and then secondly that we want landing requirements and/or community protections.”

Skinner went on to say that because these will be new rules, the borough and city want to make sure there are also protections.

“When you have a new program, you’re changing the regulatory system,” she said. “And so we’re concerned that when you make those big changes, we don’t know what’s going to happen, and so we want to make sure to try and protect Kodiak.”

Assemblyman Larry LeDoux agreed that protections for the community are necessary, given past experience with new fishery models and how they affected Kodiak.

“During the crab rationalization discussion, there’s discussion on inserting into the legislation delivery requirements to Kodiak, and that didn’t happen, because the processors assured that they’d take care of that,” LeDoux said to the chuckles of others.

“Well, they just didn’t of course. And that’s the reason why we need to stress that. We know the history of what’s happening and that would have been the answer to Commissioner Cotton that we have evidence that once this happens, we have no guarantees.”

The letter quotes from a study the borough and city commissioned that outlines the financial investments the city and industry have made to support the fishing industry, and how many jobs and resultant income is brought into town by it. By the way, directly or indirectly, the McDowell Group report claims commercial fishing and processing jobs account for about 30 percent of all personal income in the Kodiak Island Borough, which amounted to $236-million in 2014.

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