The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has a record for successful fishery management, built on principles known as the Alaska Model. Recently, the council abandoned the Alaska Model and its solid reputation for progressive fishery management. In doing so, the council failed the Gulf of Alaska trawl groundfish fisheries and our community of Kodiak.
Led by the state of Alaska, the council voted at its December meeting in Anchorage to "postpone indefinitely" any further work to address the goal of bycatch reduction through a cooperative management program for Gulf of Alaska trawl fisheries. Instead, the Council ended a four-year public process to develop a program to achieve this goal. By their action, the state and the council put politics first, and the health of our fisheries and coastal communities came in dead last.
Seafood is Kodiak's largest basic industry by a wide margin. Groundfish (Pacific cod, pollock, flatfish and rockfish) provide more jobs and income to Kodiak than any other fishery. Most of this groundfish, 83 percent in 2014, is harvested with trawl gear as it is the only effective gear type for many of these species. Kodiak city and borough recently contracted with McDowell Group to better understand Kodiak's fishery economy. That report shows that groundfish fishing and processing has the largest economic impact of any fishery in Kodiak, accounting for about half of the seafood jobs (1,952), labor income ($111 million) and total seafood output ($187 million) in the Kodiak economy in 2014. Further analysis by the North Pacific Council confirms the high percentage of Kodiak resident captains, crew, and processing workers dependent upon these fisheries and highlights the city's continued investment in infrastructure and utilities to support fisheries which provide vital, year-round jobs and contribute to the local and state tax base.