Opinion: The proposal threatens to upset Alaska’s fisheries

Opinion: The proposal threatens to upset Alaska’s fisheries

by Malcolm Milne and Brian Ritchie

Updated: 30 Seconds ago Published: 11 Minutes ago

Salmon stock

As leaders in two distinct areas of Alaska’s fisheries—commercial fisheries and the charter guide industry—we often navigate different streams regarding our views on fishery management. However, there is one thing we unequivocally agree on. Proposition 43, which will be presented to the Board of Fisheries this week at a meeting in Homer, poses a risk to all fisheries and anglers of all user groups.

Although our backgrounds may differ, our shared love of Alaska’s abundant waters and the famous salmon that inhabit them unites us. We stand together in staunch opposition to Proposition 43, and recognize the collective power of our fisheries community when we come together to protect our cherished resources.

Proposition 43, which seeks to dramatically reduce pink salmon production in our region indiscriminately, represents an alarming threat to our salmon fish and the delicate balance we have worked so hard to achieve. We have witnessed the profound impact of fisheries on our communities, economies and livelihoods, and we are committed to advocating for responsible, science-based management of our fisheries.

LET’S PAVE THE WAY: Alaska’s aquaculture industry has been instrumental in supplementing our salmon populations and ensuring our communities thrive. Private, non-profit hatchery programs in Alaska are closely regulated and supervised by the Department of Fish and Game. The Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association, or CIAA, has played a pivotal role in supporting the harvests of all user groups in our region since its founding in 1976. Its hatchery operations have enhanced our salmon production operations and reduced pressure on wild returns in years of low abundance, providing income Vital, sustainable and sustenance for thousands of Alaskans. This preserves the rich traditions of our hunting heritage.

But make no mistake, this is not just about commercial fisheries. Alaska’s charter industry, represented by charter business owners across the state, plays an equally vital role in our fisheries ecosystem. We connect people from all over the country and the world to experience wild salmon fishing in our pristine waters. Our industry contributes to local economies, supports jobs and fosters a deep appreciation for our natural environment.

So why the opposition to Proposition 43? Simply put, this proposal threatens the interconnected web of our fisheries community. Reducing pink salmon production by a staggering amount at the CIAA would have far-reaching ramifications, affecting commercial and sport fishermen, subsistence harvesters, and general anglers and fishermen who come to the Kenai Peninsula and Homer each summer.

The consequences go beyond dollars and cents. The potential for this proposal to disrupt the delicate balance between wild and hatchery-produced salmon is cause for concern. We firmly believe that fisheries management should be grounded in science and data, ensuring that decisions reflect the complex dynamics of our salmon stocks.

What makes us most proud is the solidarity we have witnessed within our fisheries community. We are not alone in our opposition to Proposition 43. Whether they come from the commercial, charter, subsistence or public use sectors, fishermen understand the risks involved with this proposal. We celebrate our common ground – a love of Alaskan salmon and a commitment to their sustainable management.

Not all hunters want division and opposition; Many of us are united in our gratitude for working together to improve our resources and the future of our fisheries. We are grateful for the collective strength we find in unity.

As leaders, we are bound by our responsibility to advocate for responsible management of our fisheries. Our diverse backgrounds underscore the common thread that runs through our fisheries – our shared appreciation for the salmon in our waters and the desire to see them thrive in the long term.

In conclusion, we call on the Council of Fisheries to carefully consider the long-term implications of Proposition 43 and to oppose it. Let us stand together, united in our commitment to Alaska’s fisheries and the generations that will come in our wake. Let’s protect the legacy that is our fisheries heritage.

Malcolm Milne A Homer resident, he serves on the board of directors for the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association and has been fishing commercially in the area since 1995. He owns and operates the F/V Captain Cook and fishes for halibut and salmon.

Brian Ritchie He is 33 years old, born and raised in Homer. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Alaska Anchorage and earned his master’s degree in environmental science with a focus on fisheries in 2020. He started his fishing business in 2016 and has been fortunate to partner with and grow the company, adding more vessels and an office where they provide reservations for owners And other operators in Homer.

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