SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



By Bill Thomas Sr.


February 14, 2006

Dear Sitnews:

I appreciate the historical information that was submitted following my viewpoints regarding the closure.

The commercial fisheries was allowed very recently compared to the harvesting of Ooligan. It was an arbitrary opening resulting from those that geared up for the fishery. There was no study, no data even considered. It was a surprise move by many that knew how fragile the fishery is. The decline happened very quickly and the commercial fishery was suspended.

You go to any management office in Ketchikan and ask to see their management studies and how they gathered data and you will find things quite interesting. Currently with the federal subsistence management program, there are ten regional advisory councils that have been assembled by statute in title V111 of ANILCA. Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980. It's a federal law. These councils are made up of a cross section of residents that live within a given region. The southeast regional advisory council Includes all public lands between Yakutat to Tree Point.

Typically, decisions for these kinds of closures happen with the blessing of the RAC. At their meeting, RAC, "Regional Advisory Councils" meet twice a year. In the fall they discuss fish in late winter, they discuss wildlife. They use a proposal system very similar to that of the one the state uses.

Like I said in my earlier comment, when the ooligan fisherman come in with no ooligan after spending a month on the grounds, we know the run is in trouble. Many of us in Ketchikan anticipate that time. When the run is determined to weak too support a harvest, the harvesters refrain from harvesting.

I have a preponderance food that is made up of a variety of local caught fish and shellfish. I personally don't need more than 20# to last me until the next season. I admire those that have an appetite for 40# for their personal consumption. I don't know of any other fishery that has announced as early as this without first assessing the strength of a run. Most closures and openings are announced by field announcement.

I agree with the goal of building stocks but how do we anticipate these stocks to build? And how do we know the sustainability potential of these stocks? The current harvesters that fish for the communities are very responsible. The sustainability is more important to them than anybody. I appreciate the interest in this topic. It needs all the help it can get. Wait till there's a demand for ooligan roe where there is money involved then watch the expansion of interest.

I still feel this announcement at this time is premature. This kind of announcement would have been in order three years ago if field assessment were made. Why now? So early?


Bill Thomas Sr.
Ketchikan, AK - USA

About: Bill Thomas Sr. is a long time resident of Ketchikan. He writes, "I familiar with the history of opening the olligan fisheries to commercial".


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