Board members of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Corp. have approved a diverse group of projects to fund for the coming year, ranging from fisheries research to ice barges and marketing.
Among them, says Bob Waldrop, executive director of the BBRSDA, is a decision to again support the Port Moller test fishery, where biologists are trying to get more answers regarding stock diversification and abundance of the salmon migrating north from Port Moller north to Bristol Bay. The Bristol Bay Science and Research Institute, a research entity of the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp., collects the sample fish and delivers them to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s genetics lab in Anchorage. The BBRSDA is supporting this research with a $55,000 grant, as well as the quality improvement research of former commercial fisherman Mark Buckley.
The BBRSDA also is continuing to support ice barge operations of the BBEDC, with a grant based on sales – the pounds of ice sold to fish harvesters – to Trident Seafoods and Ocean Beauty Seafoods, operators of the ice barges.
The goal, said Waldrop, is to stimulate sales of ice and also to get these ice barges up to the level of economic sustainability. The RSDA is also looking for other opportunities to increase the supply of ice to commercial fishermen in Bristol Bay, including a potential grantee to help provide more ice to fishermen in the Naknek-Kvichak fishery.
The RSDA also has a marketing campaign in the wings, with a consumer oriented website to inform viewers of the dependable supply of high quality fish available from Bristol Bay. Meanwhile, the RSDA continues to talk with the drift gillnet fleet and motivating them to continue to improve the quality of their fish.
The RSDA also gave Dillingham’s public radio station, KDLG, $25,000 for expansion of coverage of commercial fisheries.
Also in the wings is a project with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to keep counting tower operations open earlier or later so that their count of the escapement is more complete, Waldrop said.