Unalaska Fisheries Committee Rejects Limits on Pacific Cod

Monday, September 09 2013

Unalaska doesn't want to close the door on new Pacific cod fisheries.

The town’s Fish and Game Advisory Committee met Saturday. They voted 5-2 to reject a proposed moratorium on new Pacific cod fisheries in state waters until the state comes up with a new long-term management plan for the resource.

The moratorium would also prevent the state from expanding current Pacific cod fisheries for the time being.

Managing Pacific cod is complicated -- especially since the federal government put restrictions on the Pacific cod fishery to protect an endangered stock of Steller sea lions in 2011.

Dustin Dickerson has been fishing near Unalaska since the late 80s. He’s new to the advisory board, but he opposed the ban on new cod fisheries with the rest of the majority.

Dickerson said he’s concerned that it would hurt smaller-scale fishermen.

"If, for instance, in the future somebody came along and wanted to open up a state waters fishery for boats 42 feet and under, I’d like to leave the door open for opportunities for true small boat fisherman," Dickerson said.

But committee chair Frank Kelty said a ban would help protect the fleet that’s already working near Unalaska.

"Why do we need this development a state water fishery right now, when we have nearly 100 percent utilization of what we’re doing?" Kelty said. "It’s going to invite more competition in and it’s going to take away opportunity from vessels that have been working in the Bering Sea."

And even though they didn’t support the moratorium on new fisheries, the advisory group also didn’t support any proposals to create new ones. They voted down a plan to open state Pacific cod fisheries south of the Alaska Peninsula and in the Bering Sea/Aleutians area.

They also rejected a request from the Adak Community Development Association to increase the allocation of Pacific cod in state water fisheries -- specifically, in the western Aleutians -- so that more fish could be landed at Adak.

The Board of Fish will consider Unalaska’s positions, along with several other advisory committees’, at their meeting in Anchorage on October 18.

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