UFA Calls for Fisheries Protections
North Aleutian Basin Oil and Gas Development
October 18, 2008
United Fishermen of Alaska, representing 37 Alaska commercial
fishing organizations, on Thursday called for protections for
ongoing sustainable fishing activities in the North Aleutian
Basin, as the federal government considers moving forward with
development of oil and gas leases in the area.
"The area under consideration represents over 40% of the
commercial U.S. fisheries catch including the nation's richest
crab, pollock, cod, halibut, and salmon fisheries, with annual
harvests worth more than a half a billion dollars in ex-vessel
value. With additional value in the processing sector and the
nutritional value of sustainable seafood from these pristine
waters, the long term value to the region and the nation stands
on a par with energy needs. Sustainable, wild capture seafood
production is an integral part of our national food production,
and as such it is essential to overall national security,"
said UFA President Joe Childers.
The group's comment letter calls for fourteen points of protection
and mitigation, including creation of Regional Citizens Advisory
Councils to be funded by the approved leaseholders following
lease sales, and not to wait for funding from production. UFA
also called for establishment of an adequate fisheries disaster
fund to provide compensation to the fishing industry and coastal
communities in the event of disruption of fisheries; zero discharges
from drilling installations; and inclusion of commercial fishing
organizations in the planning process as stakeholders on a par
with other cooperating municipal, state and federal agencies.
"From the Prince William Sound experience we have seen what
can happen in a worst case scenario and we cannot trust in the
intention or ability of other industries, or the federal government,
to make fishing communities whole when things go wrong. We need
to do all we can to set up protections and a process to protect
the nation's sustainable supply of seafood as we seek to address
energy needs," said UFA Executive Director Mark Vinsel.
The group also supported the fisheries protections called for
in a draft memorandum of understanding between the borough governments
on the north coast of the Alaska Peninsula, including protections
that fishermen are not displaced or precluded from access to
fishing areas, unless they are adequately compensated for the
displacement; fishermen are not precluded from participating
in designated fishing seasons, unless they are adequately compensated
for the lost season(s); and fishermen will be compensated for
damage to fishing equipment, vessels, gear and decreased harvest
value from OCS operations in a timely manner.
The group's comments were submitted in response to the Minerals
Management Service call for comments scoping process for the
EIS on the proposed North Aleutian Basin Outer Continental Shelf
Oil and Gas Lease Sale 214, published in the Federal Register
on April 8, and August 13, 2008. The deadline for comments is
October 17, 2008.
On the Web:
United Fishermen of Alaska's
Comment Letter (3 pages)
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