Mismanaged fishing bycatch is a tragedy in Alaska
During my visits to communities throughout Alaska, a number of concerns are discussed. A major concern common to many communities is the effect of lax commercial fishing bycatch rules that have not been addressed by our current administration.
Before we go any further, let me tell you the truth about that cute term, “bycatch.”
Around the world, it’s called what it is: discarded and killed fish. “Bycatch” is a feel-good phrase created by NOAA and adopted by the Alaskan administration to make it sound like it’s no big deal – politicians playing word games.
The effect of mismanaged and loose fishing “bycatch” regulations has ramifications across the state of Alaska: from the sport fisherman hoping to catch that prized king salmon, to the halibut fisherman simply trying to bring home home a tasty meal, the commercial salmon fisherman trying to make a living, the commercial crabber bringing home an empty pot, and the commercial halibut trying to harvest one of Alaska’s food resources.
Alaskan fishers from Nome to Bristol Bay, Cook Inlet to Kodiak, Cordova to Ketchikan, the Yukon-Kuskowim River for subsistence, and all coastal communities are suffering the effects of failed “bycatch” policies.
What do they all have in common? Simply put, fishing vessels and factory trawlers are getting rid of Alaska’s natural resource, our seafood. Why? Due to old and lax laws regarding “unintentional bycatch” and the killing of a valuable resource, our Alaskan fish.
As your governor, I will support our recreational, subsistence, and directed commercial (species-specific fishing) fisheries and the Alaskan businesses they support. My administration will use all available state resources, legal and regulatory, to stop this travesty and anti-Alaska bycatch fishing industry.
Did you know? Halibut spawn when they reach around 8 pounds, but bottom trawlers kill them and discard them at around 5 pounds. Killing babies before they can breed is tantamount to genocide of the halibut fish species. All sanctioned by the current state administration and carried out in the name of increasing the bottom line of the Seattle-based primarily industrial trawler fleet.
Yes, the current administration has created a “committee” to examine this problem. Do you know what are the most used words within the committee?
Probable words such as “should”, “in progress”, “explore”, “evaluate”, “monitor”, “continue to explore” and “discuss”.
We need less of that and more of ‘do’, ‘now’ or just ‘fix’.
There are ways to stop the destruction of Alaska’s fishing industry: sound management and a governor who cares. A Pierce administration will not accept rhetoric, I will demand results.
So who are the ones withholding and destroying our precious resource? The Alaskan public? No.
Politicians receiving money to close their eyes? Yes, and yes, most out-of-state companies with offshore trawler processing vessels provide that money while prioritizing short-term profit over protecting our fish resources.
What can we do immediately?
A Pierce administration will require the use of a 24/7 electronic monitoring system. A Pierce administration will impose taxes on out-of-state operations equal to the total value of “bycatch” of all species and use them to support Alaska-based fishing businesses.
A Pierce administration will work with Congress and for a nine-mile water limit with no bottom trawling. A Pierce administration will create a phased approach that will reduce bycatch year after year; until bycatch reaches a level that allows Alaskans to once again fully and historically enjoy the limitations of recreational, subsistence, and directed commercial fishing.
Additionally, we will deploy other available methods, prioritizing using today’s data and acting now.
These actions, along with the appointment of individuals to the NPFMC who understand that their one and only job is “Alaska First,” will make a difference.
Ask your politicians, ask the candidates, ask the governor: have you taken money from seafood processing groups primarily out of state? What have you done to help Alaska? Not words, but results.
Charlie Pierce has not and will not accept tainted donations from parties that seek to destroy our fisheries resources in Alaska.
I will work to reduce trawl “bycatch” and save Alaska’s sporting and commercial industries. My administration will not talk about saving Alaska’s fish resources, we will take action to protect Alaska.
The results, not the rhetoric, will put Alaskans first and restore our right to fish in Alaskan waters without destructive interference from outside “predators” while preserving the integrity and livelihoods of our fleets. fishing boats and their workers on deck.
You can count on me, Charlie Pierce, and my administration as governor, to put Alaskans first.
Charlie Pierce is the mayor of the Kenai Peninsula Borough and a Republican candidate for governor.
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