City Council passes resolution in support of Kodiak salmon fisheries

Kodiak City Council passed a resolution in support of Kodiak salmon fisheries on Thursday night. The resolution urges the Board of Fisheries, under the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to maintain traditional management of Kodiak salmon fishery. It also requests that the upcoming January meeting of the board stay in Kodiak, instead of being moved to Anchorage.

The seiner Jaime Marie sails past other fishing vessels at City Pier 2 on Thursday, June 6, 2013. (Creative commons photo by James Brooks)

“It doesn’t call for anything more or less than just that they don’t engage in anything different than the way they’re managing it now,” said Councilmember Terry Haines

The resolution is in response to the Board of Fish’s 2019 to 2020 proposal book, which was released last month. The proposed regulation changes essentially serve to prevent commercial fishers in the Kodiak Management Area from intercepting too many salmon heading north into Cook Inlet.

Proposals from United Cook Inlet Drift Association and others suggested limiting July harvests of sockeyes bound for Upper Cook Inlet, and restricting some commercial seine fishing in the Kodiak Management Area to conserve Chinook stocks. A letter from the Kodiak Salmon Work Group Chairman Duncan Fields estimated the changes could cause a 35-40 percent reduction in Kodiak fishing revenue.

Many of this year’s proposals referenced genetic studies showing that Cook Inlet stocks are being intercepted around Kodiak. But Haines cautioned against the Board of Fish moving too quickly on the issue, which said could end up being a matter of politics, and not science.

“In this case, we think that some of the science is just in its preliminary stages and inconclusive,” Haines said. “One of the things that the Salmon Work Group has done is put a face on our fishery and given them a kind of a snapshot at how we fish and the fact that we’re not just a big industrial faceless machine here. We’re in fact a whole bunch of family businesses who are out there making their living on the water.”

Councilman John Whiddon called the proposals an “assault” on the Kodiak fishery.

“There’s still a continued assault on Kodiak’s fish from folks outside Kodiak and the assault is in numerous ways,” he said. “One … is a continued challenge by Cook Inlet and Chignik fishermen to reduce or shut down areas of Kodiak’s traditional fisheries or historic fisheries.”

The first part of the resolution, Whiddon said, is that Kodiak be allowed to retain its “traditional and historic fisheries”.

The second part, about not moving the board’s January meeting to Anchorage, is more about representation, he said.

“That would disadvantage Kodiak because here in Kodiak, we can certainly get really good attendance. It’s difficult to get that same level attendance and effort, so the deck would be stacked against us, we believe, if that meeting were to occur in Anchorage in January.”

The council voted unanimously to pass the resolution, to be sent to the Board of Fish for consideration.

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