Council Supports Unalaska Bay Trawl Ban
Wednesday, February 27 2013
After considerable public testimony and internal deliberation, city council voted Tuesday night to support a proposed trawl ban in Unalaska Bay. The vote was 4-1, with Councilor Roger Rowland dissenting, and Councilor Dennis Robinson absent.
During public testimony, half a dozen people spoke in favor of the ban, most of them pointing to declining fish stocks in the bay as a sign that the trawlers are having a negative impact. Unalaska Native Fishermen’s Association vice president Dustan Dickerson told the council that even though the evidence is anecdotal, they should err on the side of caution.
Icicle Seafoods’ Jim Touza spoke against the ban, and asked the council to respect a 2008 Board of Fisheries decision that limits trawling to a certain times of year and areas of the bay.
In explaining his dissent, Councilor Roger Rowland said respecting that agreement was important. He also said without scientific evidence for a link between trawling and the decline of other species in the bay, it would be unfair to single out one gear group as the cause.
Councilor Tom Enlow also expressed skepticism, but ultimately voted to support the ban. He pointed out that the council’s vote was merely a show of support for a local initiative, and that their decision wouldn’t actually close the bay to fishing.
That’s up the Alaska Board of Fisheries. The Board will hear the issue later this week at their meeting in Anchorage.
The council also passed a $4.5 million dollar budget amendment to a second reading. Most of the money was from a state grant for the new wastewater treatment plant. Two ports projects also were also funded through the amendment -- one to study replacing the high-mast lights at several city docks, and another to purchase the pendant, or attachment chain, for the recently-installed mooring buoy. There was little discussion about the amendments, and the ordinance passed unanimously.
Exercising a rarely-used power, the council also voted to waive a bidding irregularity, and open two bids for the PCR’s new bus. The bids arrived after the deadline, but city manager Chris Hladick explained they were sent on the same day, or earlier, as the ones that arrived on time, but that because of postal delays, they didn't make it to the city.
At the end of the meeting, Councilor Zac Schasteen officially stepped down, vacating seat F. Council has 30 days to appoint someone to the seat. The city clerk sent out a notice Wednesday that the city is accepting applications.
Also at the meeting, Mayor Shirley Marquardt recognized two employees for 25 years with the city. Clint Huling and Nicholai Lekanoff were presented plaques thanking them for their service.