SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Fish Factor

Opportunities to shape fisheries policy; New fish advisor; & Fish funds


July 28, 2014

(SitNews) - Nowhere in the world do people have more say in shaping fisheries policy than in Alaska. While the outcomes might get mixed rants and reviews, no one is ever denied the chance to state ideas, concerns and gripes to decision makers.

Several opportunities are available right now. First off, a revised draft of the Magnuson-Stevens Act was just released for public review and comment. The MSA is the primary federal law that governs all fisheries management in U.S. waters; it is undergoing reauthorization targeted for completion at the end of this year.

Comments will be taken until the bill moves through the Senate to the full Congress for final action. Find more information at the Dept. of Commerce Comments also can be sent to Sen. Mark Begich (click here), who chairs the Senate committee on Oceans, Fisheries and Coast Guard.

Revised protection measures are being proposed for Western Steller sea lions in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. The changes could reopen fishing for cod, Atka mackerel and other groundfish for the first time in five years. Comments to NOAA Fisheries (click here) are accepted through August 15.

It’s the last chance to comment on the proposed KSM gold/copper open pit mine just 19 miles north of the Alaska border. KSM would be one of the largest mines in North America, operating at the headwaters of trans-boundary rivers flowing to Juneau, Petersburg and other Southeast Alaska regions. Currently, there are no enforceable policies in place to safeguard Alaska’s fish and clean water from upstream industrial development. Deadline to comment is August 20 (Click here).

The public has until September 19 to comment to the Environmental Protection Agency (click here) on its intent to protect salmon and habitat at Bristol Bay by imposing tough watershed restrictions on large mines in the region. The EPA has scheduled a series of seven public hearings starting Aug. 12 in Anchorage, followed by meetings throughout the Bristol Bay region.

New fish advisor

Governor Parnell on Friday appointed Ben Mohr as his new fisheries advisor. Mohr previously was Public Information Specialist for the Pebble Partnership for six years, and was former campaign manager for Dan Sullivan, candidate for US Senate. Mohr replaces Stephanie Moreland as the governor’s fisheries advisor.

Fish funds

Two Sitka fishing projects received grant awards from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Fisheries Innovation Fund, a program launched in 2010 to support sustainable US fisheries and fishermen.

The Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust received $135,000 to develop and deploy processes “for inter-generational transfer of fishery rights and best practices.” The proposed project “utilizes existing legal and financial mechanisms in a novel way to achieve the goal of increased retention of economic benefits from fisheries in Gulf of Alaska communities.”

Another $38,000 went to the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association to move Electronic Monitoring systems from a pilot stage to use out on the water.

This year marks the 24th year for this weekly column that focuses on Alaska’s seafood industry. It began in 1991 in the Anchorage Daily News, and now appears in over 20 newspapers and web sites. A daily spin off – Fish Radio – airs weekdays on 30 radio stations in Alaska. My goal is to make all people aware of the economic, social and cultural importance of Alaska’s fishing industry to our state, the nation and the world. 

Laine Welch ©2014

Laine can be reached at msfish[AT]

Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska

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