Veteran longliner Linda Behnken of Sitka, Alaska, and Brad Pettinger, director of the Oregon Trawl Commission, were among a dozen people recognized by the White House on Oct. 5 as Champions of Change in Sustainable Seafood. Behnken is the executive director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, and was recently named as an interim commissioner to the International Pacific Halibut Commission.
As director of the Oregon Trawl Commission, a state commodity commission operating under the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Commodity Commission program, Pettinger works collaboratively in the Pacific Fishery Management Council to improve management of West Coast groundfish fisheries.
Behnken shared the honors on her Facebook page, saying it is “really an honor that has been earned by the incredible people I work with at ALFA, staff, board and members, and the individuals and foundations who have supported our work-first and foremost Anne Hensaw at the Oak Foundation.” Behnken also thanked the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Central Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association, North Pacific Research Board and the city of Sitka.
As a leader of ALFA, a member of the Halibut Coalition and in her years on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, Behnken has been an outspoken advocate for all participants in Alaska’s fisheries protecting the health of the resource.
A commercial harvester for 34 years, she has also served as an industry advisor to the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, the National Academy of Science Individual Fishing Quota Review Panel, and co-chaired the council’s essential fish habitat committee.
Behnken participated in the last two-reauthorizations of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and was an active advocate for the Sustainable Fisheries Act amendments. She is also a founding member of the Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, a cutting-edge financing tool to help new and young harvesters break into Alaska fisheries and connect communities with their renewable natural resources.
The White House noted that under Pettinger’s leadership all three Oregon trawl fisheries have been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council as well managed and sustainable fisheries.
Pettinger owns a trawler that participates in the West Coast trawl groundfish catch share program off the coast of northern California and Southern Oregon. His work has been instrumental to recovery of many rockfish species, which provide sustainable, healthy, delicious seafood for local communities, the White House said.