November 27, 2013
The Alaska Salmon Alliance, a group that was formed by Cook Inlet processors to promote science-based fishery management in Cook Inlet, came to Homer for a workshop Friday to brainstorm ideas to improve the Cook Inlet fishery, the fourth in a series between Palmer and Homer.
ASA has taken a collaborative and inclusive approach to problem-solving in Cook Inlet with the basic assumption that there are enough fish for all user groups if they are managed properly, and expressed dismay at the scorched-earth approach taken by the newly formed Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance that seeks to eliminate an entire historical user group through a ballot initiative.
ASA recognizes that there are conflicts between user groups and stakeholders, but also says that those conflicts pose perhaps the biggest risk to long-term sustainability for Cook Inlet salmon fisheries.
The workshop in Homer was moderated by ASA staff member Hannah Harrison, education, outreach and development director, and attended by about 30 people, mostly commercial fishermen.
Harrison started off by explaining that all comments are anonymous when she writes up the white paper on the workshop, so participants should speak freely.
The group began by identifying some general points of consensus about Cook Inlet salmon that all user groups could agree on, mainly that they belong to everyone, and they should not be managed politically, what Harrison called “ballot box biology,” although it is obvious that not all user groups feel that way, hence the ballot initiative.