Should the state of Alaska buy back some of its limited entry permits in Bristol Bay? A study recently released by the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association indicates that fishermen say yes.
The organization sent out a questionnaire this spring to all 1,858 Bristol Bay drift permit holders. They are still accepting returned questionnaires, but have gotten back more than 400 so far. According to the seafood development association, which supports market, product and infrastructure improvements in the bay, most permit holders who've responded favor a buyback.
At the time of their summer newsletter release, the returns showed that 74 percent of them supported a buyback program. A total of 81 percent supported the association's continued investigation into a potential buyback, including what the costs and impacts would be to Bristol Bay communities. The association's annual meeting was in Dillingham earlier this month.
The question of a fleet reduction originated with the board of directors, which after extensive discussion, decided to put the issue to the fleet.
"Our discussion focused on elements of 'buyback programs' at the state and federal level, specifically as they may relate to concerns regarding the economic sustainability of the Bristol Bay drift gillnet fishery in light of the smaller sockeye runs we have seen return to the Bay over the past four years," stated a recent letter from the board to association members. "At the end of the day we were all in agreement that the issue warranted further investigation."
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