The Alaska Trollers Association is voicing concern over a lowered cap on this summer’s Alaska harvest of king salmon announced by the Pacific Salmon Commission, which puts the commercial troll quota at 175,000 fish. That’s out of a total allocation of 237,000 fish, down from 440,000 kings a year ago.
According to Dale Kelley, executive director of the Alaska Trollers Association, in Southeast Alaska, this year’s quota “shines a bright light on a treaty agreement that is not working for Southeast Chinook fishermen and communities.”
For the past three decades trollers have paid the price of habitat destruction in the Pacific Northwest, and the stocks they have worked hard to rebuild are now returning in record numbers, she said. Yet Alaska is being held to a pitifully low quota that failed to recognize that abundance, and trollers are losing faith that they will ever see a fair shake in this process, she said.
Charlie Swanton, a deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said that lower quota likely would add up to a loss of about $12 million for harvesters pursuing Chinook salmon.
“We have no preconceived notion about what the quota should be this year,” Kelley said. “All our fleet wants is a scientifically defensible number that cares for the resource and provides a fair harvest share.”
The Pacific Salmon Treaty, signed in 1985, aims to rebuild salmon runs from Oregon to Alaska, and distribute the benefits among all West Coast fishermen. At the treaty signing, many stocks were significantly depressed, and today the stocks migrating to Alaska are largely considered rebuilt. That given, Alaska fishermen are angry that this year’s quota is nearly 30,000 fish under Alaska’s original rebuilding quota of 263,000 fish, Kelley said.