On Monday night roughly two dozen community members filled the borough assembly chambers for the Kodiak Fisheries Work Group meeting. It was a long night of testimony, panel discussion and guest presentations, as the work group considered what recommendations it might pass on to the city council and borough assembly for bycatch management in the Gulf of Alaska trawl industry.
In April, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council will take up the bycatch issue, with the hopes of creating some sort of management program that will offset the growing numbers of bycatch in the trawl industry.
The idea of community fishing associations, or CFAs, was a hot topic during Monday’s meeting. It was presented as an option the work group should encourage the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to look into, but those who provided public testimony on the matter were seemingly split.
During the work group’s discussion, the members went through previously stated community goals and drafted how various aspects of the fishery management council’s motion could fit those goals. The work group also added other items not addressed in the council’s management plan, and directed Kodiak’s fisheries analyst, Heather McCarty, to draft some sort of community proposal from Monday’s meeting.
Assemblywoman Chris Lynch chaired Monday’s meeting, and said she felt it was successful in bringing fishermen from different gear types to the table for discussion.
“My goal was to have courteous dialogue amongst all the industries and I think we accomplished that,” she said. “I was very happy that the panel could talk amongst themselves about what they liked or didn’t like or didn’t like or why they couldn’t live with certain aspects and I just hope that dialogue continues. And the fisheries work group has proven to be a productive group and I hope we can continue to voice the concerns of the community and hear the community’s concerns.”
Tonight both the borough assembly and city council will take a look what fisheries analyst Heather McCarty drafted in terms of bycatch recommendations during a joint work session. The goal is to collectively create a community statement of sorts that can be presented to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council during its February meeting.
The trawl bycatch discussion is the first item on the agenda for tonight’s joint work session, followed by a discussion of a potential lobbying trip to Washington D.C.
Tonight’s work session starts at 6:30 p.m. in the borough assembly chambers. Public comments will be taken at the beginning of the meeting.
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