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.