Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kodiak Fisheries Veteran Says Better Crew Licenses Are Needed

A veteran fisherman who served on the city council at Kodiak, Alaska, says commercial fishermen need to speak up in support of improved crew licenses, with a number that would track economic contributions of crew to local economies.

“We need a crew license with a number that would stay with you for the rest of your career and track you,” Terry Haines told participants in ComFish 2012 at Kodiak in mid-April. “Then if a boat made a delivery, authorities could get the information on the value of the fish, who was in the boat.”

That way, fishermen could be kept track of throughout the industry to see how much money they are making and its impact on fishing communities, Haines said.

Haines noted that the Alaska Municipal League, in which he is a participant, has a policy statement calling for robust crew data collection and use of social and economic data in framing fisheries management programs.

Haines said Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, who spoke earlier at ComFish, should be contacted by fishermen because he could be a real advocate for this change.

Haines and many other Kodiak residents are concerned about how privatization of the crab fishery through the federal crab rationalization program has hit their community in the pocketbook. He spoke of his concerns of capital flight when rights in a fishery are given to specific user groups and the price of leasing such rights goes sky-high.

“We have basically given 100 percent rights of harvest to people who can move to Arizona, while working fishermen have to stay in the community and work on boats,” Haines said. “Eighty percent lease fees for crab leases seem to me excessive.”

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