Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Trollers Want Alaska to Change Approach to Pacific Salmon Treaty Negotiations

Alaska Trollers Association President Steve Merritt is asking the state of Alaska to change its approach in negotiations over the Pacific Salmon Treaty or face the loss of a very valuable resource.

The troll fishery ranks among the largest commercial fisheries in Alaska and most of its permit holders live in Southeast Alaska, playing a vital part in the region’s economy and social well-being. In fact about one in 35 people living in Southeast Alaska works on a troll vessel, according to the ATA.

Merritt voiced his concerns on May 22, in the wake of a king salmon symposium in Sitka a day earlier, where ATA learned they would be giving up more of their harvest share of treaty king salmon as a result of Pacific Salmon Treaty negotiations. “Alaska has not one time, since the treaty’s implementation, went into these negotiations and returned without a loss to their harvest share,” Merritt said.

The troll fleet is being managed very conservatively because of poor returns of kings to the rivers of Southeast Alaska. The Alaska Board of Fisheries last January implemented stock of concern plans that made major cuts to troll winter and spring fisheries. Those were meaningful conservation measures and trollers understood their importance to the health of their fishery, he said.

With abundance of kings in general at low levels for several other stocks on the Northwest coast, Alaska has smaller king quotas under the current Pacific Salmon Treaty agreement, Merritt said.

And Alaska’s Deputy Commissioner of Fish and Game, Charles Swanton, has levied an additional 10 percent cut on Alaska’s Chinook fisheries for 2018 for conservation of Trans-Boundary River and Canadian stocks as well. That’s a cut that the ATA strongly disputes as having any meaningful conservation value and believes is a misinterpretation of the Standardized Fishing Regime portion of the Pacific Salmon Treaty, Merritt said.

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