Board of Fisheries Rejects Unalaska Bay Trawl Closure

Thursday, February 28 2013

Unalaska Bay will remain open to pollock trawling, but only during the months of September and October. On Thursday, the Alaska Board of Fisheries rejected the total ban proposed by the Unalaska Native Fishermen’s Association, and instead voted to open the season a month later than current regulation specifies.

Vince Webster introduced the motion. He acknowledged that many locals had testified to the Board that they’ve been having trouble catching their subsistence salmon and halibut.

“I think by pushing this date back, it will give the subsistence users reasonable opportunity to harvest their subsistence needs," Webster said.

Historically, most of the trawlers’ landings in the bay have been in August. Several board members, including Tom Kluberton, reasoned that closing the bay to fishing for that month would reduce the overall harvest from the bay.

“It’ll make a significant impact," Kluberton said. "I think that would give things a chance to recover. Maybe not as quickly as a complete closure would do, but looking backwards, I have a hard time pointing the finger at any one entity.”

The final vote was unanimous. Unalaska resource analyst Frank Kelty says it was a disappointing decision, given the overwhelming local support for an outright ban. But he says the compromise won't be a total failure if the trawlers do end up fishing less in the bay as a result.

Both the Unalaska City Council and the Unalaska Fish and Game Advisory Committee passed resolutions in recent months supporting the total closure.

Sharon Svarny-Livingston on Tuesday, March 05 2013:

Those of us who live and practice the fine art of subsistence - and believe me there are many - have noticed more than a small difference in the quantity, quality, and size of the fish we are able to catch in the bay. I applaud UNFA for going after a solution to the problem. If not now, when? When everything has been scraped up? Thanks Brian and Genee for sticking up for what you believe to be right and speaking out. Balderdash? Although I don't want to engage in a conversation with someone who has a lot to say under a false name, I will comment that it seems that you don't have a real sense of this community and what is important to its residents.

Genee Shai on Tuesday, March 05 2013:

For a few natives are you kidding me!! People who live here subsistance fish too balderdash. like brian said you must be here for money only and could care less about our town,elders,our future and the communities well being. Well troubles are we can not catch king crab halibut salmon codfish like we use to. OUR WAY OF LIFE, OUR HOME OUR WATERS AND NOT JUST NATIVES BUT ALL WHO LIVE HERE AND DEPEND ON ALL THIS EITHER BY SUBSISTANCE FISHING BY HAND OR BY BOAT.

another Unalaska local... on Saturday, March 02 2013:

Trawling and its associated industry is very important to this city and region. With that said my guess is that the trawl catch taken from the bay is a very small catch when compared to the rest of the fishing grounds. The trawlers I know have the means to reach areas outside of the bay to fish whereas most of the locals here simply do not have the same range as the larger boats. That alone is the main reason I believe that the bay should be closed to trawlers - regardless of how well "managed" the fisheries are, in or out of the bay.

Balderdash on Saturday, March 02 2013:

There is one.... sorry I ain't livin in the 80's and fisheries management is not either. NPFMC: All Alaska seafood, whether managed by the State of Alaska or the federal government, is harvested at sustainable levels. There is no overfishing of any species caught in the waters off Alaska. The Alaska pollock fishery has been recognized as sustainable by a number of independent environmental organizations including the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), a third-party certification body created by the World Wildlife Fund

BrianUnAK on Friday, March 01 2013:

Balderdash, you are most likely only here for Money and nothing more. I on the other had have been raised here my life, my mother, grandparents and their grandparents were BORN and RAISED here. I do Subsistance fish, I freeze, smoke , and can the fish I catch. I do use it through out the winter to help Feed my family. I am interested in a substainable fisheries. I want MY Grandchildren (Unborn) to have a healthy fisheries for their own Subsistance. I was here in the early eighties while King Crab was Mismanaged stocks crashed and this town emptied. I know that Unalaska is where it is today because of the Trawl Fleet, but We DO NOT NEED to make the same mistake and Fish Out an area just to make a few more dollars.

Balderdash on Friday, March 01 2013:

Wish anyone could name 10 people who subsist on Halibut and Salmon from Unalaska Bay. And exactly what "troubles" are they having. Should we curtail a billion dollar industry that supports over 5000 processors, fishermen, and related industries for a few natives who forgot to set their nets during the right tide or put their halibut long line in the wrong area or at the wrong depth and are blaming pelagic fish trawling.... Balderdash

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