NPFMC panel solicits public comment on IFQ program

Panel at convention center. (Photo by Kayla Desroches / KMXT)

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Easing entry into the fishing industry is one strand of conversation that’s been continuing after hours while the North Pacific Fishery Management Council is in town.

Members of the council spoke with the public at a community outreach and listening session yesterday to discuss the halibut and sablefish Individual Fishing Quota Program.

According to staff, the council conducted a 20-year review of the IFQ program and sees a need to address entry-level opportunities and rural participation. Both have shrunk in Kodiak over the years. That’s according to some members of the public who stayed after the panel.

Linda Kozak said that rural areas are losing young people to cities.

“You are seeing these kinds of issues in all areas of Alaska, coastal areas of Alaska. Not just in areas that have halibut IFQ. And it would be very short sighted for us to think that we can solve the problems on the backs of the IFQ fishery.”

She said the trend of people moving to metropolitan areas after college is a larger social issue than the council should be expected to resolve.

Jeff Stephan with the United Fishermen’s Marketing Association said he’s noted the same retreat of people from Kodiak’s communities.

“Even if there was some redistribution that took away from the people who have quota now and give it to the villages, I don’t know that  you’re gonna get people to move back.”

According to council staff, they intend to put the public input into a proposal for an action to some of the issues identified in the 20-year review.

They said this is the first stage in their outreach.

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