SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Help save the Dungeness!
By Lloyd Gossman


April 16, 2009

Everyone needs to help stop the Ketchikan area summer commercial Dungeness crab fishery. It hasn't taken place for 20 years because it was a bad idea back in the day and it's a bad idea now. As of now, this fishery is scheduled to start on June 15th, right when most of the Dungeness are soft shelled and reproducing. Millions of pounds of Dungeness will be wasted because of the high mortality rate of the soft-shelled crab.

The process by which this Dungeness crab fishery was approved was questionable to say the least. At the Petersburg meeting of the Alaska Board of Fisheries, (BOF) the board pulled a real shady one to carry a proposal allowing this fishery. They really lost their credibility with this one. It used to make sense to have folks with a vested interest look after the resource. Not any more. They are looking after their own interests.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is against the Ketchikan area Summer Dungeness crab fishery. At the Petersburg BOF meeting they opposed this fishery which hasn't taken place since the mid 1980s. Local crab fisherman have told the board they are against this fishery, and still the BOF approved it. They are not listening to the Biologists or the people they are supposed to represent.

The reason some of these BOF folks say a crab fishery should be allowed is because the data we have is over 20 years old. This is about as stupid a comment as I've ever heard. We should be saying "We can never start a fishery with 20 year old data. Another thought process these BOF folks use is to have a fishery so data can be gathered. Again, that's about as stupid as the first reason. The Department of Fish and Game has no money, so they ask the fisherman to collect the data. Guess how that works out? It's just time for a change. Either the make up of the BOF has to be changed or the Board has to be disbanded and let Fish and Game run the fisheries.

Another issue we all have with the BOF is the idea that anytime by catch is exceeded or a fishery gets threatened - we have to go to allocation measures to correct the over fishing and abuses by the commercial interests. It's always the sport fisherman, personal use, and subsistence users who take the hit. Why can't the BOF start putting in place mitigating processes? Alternate areas, Alternate years, transport fish and even eggs to areas that need fisheries enhanced. All they think about is taking more for themselves and letting some one else bear the consequences of their mismanagement.

On top of it all, there isn't that many crab left in the Ketchikan area. Ask anyone who gets out there and fishes for them. You have to travel farther for less. Wake up people!!!

About the only thing that will come out of the Ketchikan area commercial Dungeness crab fishery is a crab population that will be further devastated for years to come and the local residents who have personal and subsistence use having less of an "allocation".

I for one am getting really tired of a management system that appears to be getting more and more corrupt. I am imploring everyone to do something about it. Call the Governor, your Representative or Senator and ask them to stop this fishery. We can all sit by quietly and complain or we can do something.

Lloyd Gossman
Ketchikan, AK


Received April 13, 2009 - Published April 16, 2009


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