Borough Backs Local Fisheries Grant Proposal

logo-w-sunburstKayla Desroches/KMXT

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly will back a grant proposal that aims to improve bycatch estimates for Chinook salmon through better dock sampling.

The proposal, which comes with an estimated budget of $190,000, is up for a 2017 Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant through NOAA, and Kodiak-based Julie Bonney of the Alaska Groundfish Data Bank and Craig Rose of FishNext Research in Washington are behind the project.

According to the proposal, the project team would experiment with three separate methods using the Rockfish Program trawl fishery. Two of them would involve different sample sizes – Vessel observers and plant personnel could sample the entire catch or collect large samples of the catch. The third alternative would throw an electronic option into the mix. Plant personnel could sort and sample the entire catch using video.

The proposal draft came before the Kodiak Fisheries Work Group at its regular meeting this month and, Monday, the assembly considered signing off on a letter of support to strengthen the proposal. Granting foundations like to see community investment.

During discussion, Assemblyman Dennis Symmons posed the question of: ‘well, why not?’ and Assemblywoman Rebecca Skinner agreed.

“I think that’s where [the] Fisheries Work Group came down – is why wouldn’t we support this? I also wanted to note just for the record that the borough has issued letters of support for fisheries related projects before. The last one I remember, there may have been other ones, is the proposal to fertilize Karluk Lake.”

A letter of support isn’t a give-in. Skinner said last year the borough applied for a Saltonstall-Kennedy grant to fund an economic modeling project related to fisheries.

“When the borough proposal came back before the Fisheries Work Group, after hearing more … about what that proposal would look like, I think everyone at [the] Fisheries Work Group that it wasn’t going in the direction that would be most beneficial to the city or the borough, so that the Fisheries Work Group recommended that the borough not go ahead with that.”

At the end of discussion, the assembly agreed to send the letter supporting the Chinook salmon bycatch project. The pre-proposal has already passed the first round of the grant process. Bonney and Rose are now working on the full proposal, which is due Friday, December 9.

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