Something remarkable happened in my hometown of Kodiak recently. Roughly 1,000 people turned out to celebrate our groundfish trawl fishery. It was a family affair, with processing workers and their kids, fishing families, support businesses and local officials all participating in the parade and the barbecue picnic that followed. More than 2,000 meals were served and $17,000 was raised for the local Brother Francis Shelter.
For me this was very special. My brother and I were some of the pioneers of the trawl fishery here in Kodiak. We started from scratch when the United States claimed a 200-mile zone. I remember the foreign fleets off our shores, and once they were replaced by U.S. vessels like ours, I remember how the trawl fishery for pollock and cod helped put the town back on its feet after the collapse of the crab and shrimp fisheries in the late 1970s. I am proud of the fact that the fishery I helped pioneer now supports a year-round fishing economy here in Kodiak.
Although I am retired now, I continue to follow how the fishery is run. And I am concerned.
In the past, when we were struggling to build the fishery, the state of Alaska was on our side. We worked hard together to build a fishery that was managed by scientific principles and research, with no overfishing. We pioneered putting observers on .US. vessels, and unlike a lot of other fisheries here in Alaska we have had observers for roughly 30 years. We worked alongside the state and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to meet conservation and management challenges together, to ensure practical solutions that ensured an economically sustainable fishery for Kodiak and other Alaska coastal towns.