Candidate Mike Dunleavy was given the same opportunity to interview with KMXT, but he declined.
Alaska needs to base fisheries decisions on science, and needs to get young people into the industry. That according to former U.S. Senator Mark Begich who is the Democratic candidate for governor.
He was originally in Kodiak to participate in the Gubernatorial Fisheries Debate which got cancelled. So he dropped by KMXT’s studios to answer questions on fish issues.
“Well the first thing we need to do around fisheries is to make sure everything is based on science and consistent science. And what I mean by that is we need to have a better investment in research for what the impacts of acidification of waters, the warming of our waters, what’s happening to our fisheries. Cause we’re seeing impacts. Here in Kodiak you’ve seen some of that impact in a dramatic way economically, but also with the impacts on fisheries.
That was Begich answering a question on how he would specifically improve and protect Alaska’s fisheries if elected governor.
He also said the industry must become more accessible to young people trying to break into fisheries.
But we also have to look at what we can do to grow our fishing industry, making sure that young people who want to get into this industry have a chance to get into it. It’s very expensive. There’s not a lot of capital to put toward fisheries for our young fisherman or fisherwoman who wants to be involved.
I think we need to do what we can to change that dynamic in order to continue to have an Alaskan fisheries.
When asked what bill he sponsored in the Senate that was designed to protect or enhance commercial fishing, Begich cited his work on the Magnuson-Stevens Act
“But also funding for working on clean up on our shores which is very important, as you know debris is coming from all over the world and ending up on our shores and impacting our fisheries in a negative way. Made sure there was funding for that.
Also funding for research around acidification of water. Very important in order to understand what this impact is going to be because there’s so many things we can do around fisheries, but this is kind of out of our control unless we know more about it. So that was important.”
Begich added that he chaired the senate subcommittee on fisheries
“It was very important for the nation to understand what Alaska was about because we really were, just like there is the farm belt, we are the fish belt. We produce so much of the fish, of live caught fish, and fresh fish, and not farmed fish. Cause we don’t care for that up here as you know.
But it was really important to educate some of my members in the senate about how, when they talk about farm bill for example, for the Midwest, well don’t forget, we’re pulling resources from the ocean and we can’t be forgotten. We’re a big part of the food chain in this country and this world.
You know, it wasn’t a bill, but it was really trying to educate members who may not be familiar with how impactful our fisheries are.”
KMXT reached out to Begich’s Republican challenger Mike Dunleavy and invited him to answer the same questions. Dunleavy’s staff said his schedule was packed and he did not have time available for an interview.