Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Alaska Crab Coalition Will Merge With Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers

Alaska Crab Coalition, a trade association established in 1986 by a group of crab boat owners, will complete its merger Dec. 31 with a lobbying organization, the Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers.

“The Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers was formed based on the idea that all independent Bering Sea and Aleutian island crab harvesters need to speak with a unified voice, said Mark Gleason, ABSC executive director.

ACC’s decision to merge with ABSC has pretty much realized that goal, he said.

Several members of ACC’s board of directors also serve on the board of ABSC.

Arni Thomson, executive director of ACC, is also the president of United Fishermen of Alaska. He moved to Anchorage from the Seattle area more than two years ago.

ACC has been working toward this merger for most of the year. For the interim, Thomson has been doing consulting services for ABSC in Alaska.

Thomson said ACC’s most significant accomplishment was the federal Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands crab rationalization program, now in its eighth year.

Supporters of the controversial program say it has made the industry more efficient. Opponents have criticized the privatizing of a public resource, as well as loss of jobs and income to crewmembers.

Thomson credits ACC with petitioning the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to reestablish the king and tanner crab protection areas, and prohibited species caps for crab and halibut, and with designing a joint federal-state management plan for king and tanner crab for the BSAI.

ACC also spearheaded efforts by the crab and groundfish to secure a bilateral agreement with Russia that allowed US crabbers and groundfish fishermen access to Russian crab and groundfish resources in the Russian sector of the Western Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk, Thomson said. And ACC worked with the Fishing Vessel Owners Association on bycatch reduction and measures and safety and bycatch amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, he said.

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