Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bycatch Issues On Tap at SWAMC Economic Summit

Fisheries policy and politics are on tap for the 2015 Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference in Anchorage March 6, with updates on bycatch management and fishery economics from state, federal and industry representatives.

Conference participants will hear reports from the still to be confirmed Alaska Commissioner of Fish and Game, oceanographer Jeremy Mathis of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, and Jim Balsiger, Alaska regional administrator for National Marine Fisheries Service. Acting ADF&G Commissioner Sam Cotten is one of four people still to be considered for confirmation by the Alaska Legislature, when was scheduled to convene on Jan. 15.

Also on the fisheries day agenda will be reports on gear modifications to lessen the catch of non-targeted species, by John Gauvin of the Groundfish Forum, and the retention, discard and sale of bycatch, from a representative of the Environmental Defense Fund.

Participants in a discussion on how to achieve greater value from every pound of seafood will include panelists Mark Gleason, executive director of Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers; executive director Julie Decker of the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation; and representatives from Northern Economics, the McDowell Group, Pacific Seafood Processors Association, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, and Whole Foods.

The annual conference begins March 4 with a focus on energy costs and sustainability, the number one issue facing Southwest Alaska, including workshops on reducing power costs over the long term, and speakers from industries engaged in helping communities convert to new energy systems. Participants will include Alaska Airlines, Pen Air, Ravn Alaska, the Alaska Marine Highway System, Northern Air Cargo, Sampson, Vitas Marine and others.

The agenda for March 5, with a focus on economic development, will include communication technology.

Major sponsors include Pen Air, Ravn Alaska, the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association, Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, Wells Fargo, the city of King Cove, the city of Unalaska, GCI, Alaska Airlines, the city of Kodiak and Kodiak Island Borough.

Southwest Alaska encompasses a vast area including the Aleutians East Borough, the Aleutians West Census Area, the Bristol Bay Borough, the Dillingham Census Area, Kodiak Island Borough and Lake and Peninsula Borough. The region stretches over some 93,875 square miles, an area roughly equivalent to the state of Oregon.

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