Starting in 2014, and continuing into 2016, members of United Cook Inlet Drift Association (UCIDA), a commercial fishing organization, and two former employees of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game who have since became advocates for Cook Inlet commercial fisheries, have claimed the Alaska Board of Fisheries is broken and needs reform. These are serious accusations and should be examined to determine whether there is evidence to support them.
Alaska has a unique approach to the management of its natural resources. The state’s constitution mandates that fish resources be managed on the principle of sustained yield for the maximum benefit of its citizens. Alaska statutes provide more comprehensive protection for fish and their habitat than any other state. In 1975, the Legislature created the BOF, which is charged with achieving the constitutional and statutory requirements of conservation and allocation of the states’s fishery resources.
As a result of BOF regulations and ADF&G management, Alaska’s fisheries have provided robust harvest opportunities for commercial, sport, personal use (dipnetters) and in many cases, subsistence users. Contrast that to New England and western states that once had huge runs of Atlantic cod and chinook salmon. Books such as “Cod” or “King of Fish” chronicled the diminishment of those species because of mismanagement.
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