Kodiak fisherman Terry Haines told participants in the 27th annual Lowell Wakefield Fisheries Symposium in Anchorage this past week that an entity is needed for community participation in catch shares.
Haines, representing a group known as Fish Heads, an advocacy group to preserve the vitality of Alaska’s fishing communities, said that Kodiak would be the perfect community to take the lead. Processors, fishermen, communities and local businesses could all be members of the regional fisheries association, which would report to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council on issues related to specific fisheries and propose rules and regulations, Haines said.
“Everyone has legitimate things to bring to the council,” he said. “There are ways we can sit down and talk to each other like human beings so that the communities are not bled dry by the catch share programs.”
If the regional association’s members could not come to agreement on the issues, they could recommend to the council that they not allocate catch shares for that year to anyone, he said. “We need a pass through the entity that allocates directly to harvesters but that makes it tougher for the crew and the rest of the community to get their share,” he said.
“We have to connect the owner of the resource with the resource and the resource with the community,” he said. “We have to learn to trust each other and not be dogs in the pit.”
The structure for such regional fisheries associations is contained within the Magnuson Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act but it’s just a shell right now, he said, and leadership on this issue needs to be taken by communities.