Sneak peek at groundfish bycatch reduction plan

It’s similar to a chess game, said Duncan Fields, a lifelong Kodiak fisherman and a member of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council charged with designing the new plan.

“You have multiple moving pieces and every time you move a piece, it impacts all other pieces on the board,” Fields explained at a recent panel discussion in Kodiak. “You have your queen and your king– those might be your primary policy goals – but if you can get that pawn to the other end of the board, that becomes a queen. Sometimes the little components of a catch share or rationalization program can become equally as important as the big parts.”

“The big question is how you win, collectively, as a community, “he added. “That revolves around defining the goals and objectives early on. At the cusp of developing a program for the Gulf of Alaska, we have to appreciate the long term nature of the decisions we may make.”

Fields said he believes mirroring catch share modes being used so far in Alaska (halibut, sablefish and Bering Sea crab fisheries “will not bring a good result to the Gulf.”

Any new plan must be very inclusive, said Nicole Kimball, the State’s federal fisheries advisor.

“We need to recognize the interests and investments and the dependence of all sectors, so there shouldn’t just be a vessel based program or one just focused on processor interests or the community. It needs to be all three,” Kimball said.

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