Board of Fish adds erosion criteria to Alaska Peninsula meeting agenda
The state Board of Fisheries will likely finalize a new policy on how to address setnet sites impacted by coastal erosion when it meets to discuss the Alaska Peninsula next month.
Next month, the state Board of Fisheries may decide what it does when time and tides take their toll on commercial setnet sites.
After Bristol Bay set-netters asked the state Board of Fisheries to address erosion-related issues last year, the board created a new committee to help it draft a policy for how it’ll do so in the future. At the board's Arctic-Yukon-Kuskokwim meeting in Fairbanks on January 16, Reed Morisky explained the committee's charge.
That committee met in January, heard about an hour of public testimony and then read one set of draft criteria. Now, it has nine draft criteria for the new policy.
The criteria would require that the proposal is related to coastal erosion or accretion; identifies the historical use of the site; has approval of all affected stakeholders; would not adversely impact salmon escapement or Fish and Game’s management ability; would not increase the number of legal fishing sites; would not adversely affect historical participants; would result in a historical fairness; would not adversely impact another leaseholder; and directs the board to abide with the allocation criteria if the proposal would have an allocative impact.
The policy does, however, note that “not all criteria necessarily needs to be satisfied for a particular proposal.”
Morisky said board members still needed to consider the nuances in those criteria, and referenced comments submitted on the first draft criteria that suggested some language changes.
Aside from that reminder, there was little discussion of those criteria, and most board members did not weigh in.
Board member Tom Kluberton said he thought it would be up to the board or staff to determine whether the proposal complied with some of those criteria – like not increasing the number of sites legally fished – while the proposer would need to do the legwork on other issues – like getting approval from other stakeholders.
In written comments to the board, Bristol Bay Economic Development Criteria suggested several changes, including asking proposers to identify how it would affect themselves and others nearby, rather than getting the support of all affected stakeholders.
BBEDC also suggested changing the criteria that relates to adverse effects, noting that such a requirement would eliminate “nearly all the proposals that seek relief because the requested relief will no doubt have some impact on either neighboring set net fishers or drift fishers.”
Instead, it suggested considering the degree or severity the requested relief would have on others who have historically fished in the area.
The board take public comment on the proposed policy for the next several weeks and then is expected to make a decision on at the Alaska Peninsula, Aleutian Islands, Chignik finfish meeting that begins Feb. 23 in Anchorage. Public written comments for that meeting are due February 8, although additional written documents are accepted during the meeting and those present at the meeting can provide oral comment.
If a policy is adopted at that meeting, the two Bristol Bay proposals that prompted the creation of the new committee could then be up for discussion at the board’s statewide meeting in March. One of those was proposed by the Armstrong family, which wants a boundary adjusted at Graveyard Point to once again include a site the family says it has historically fished. The other is from Clark’s Point set-netters who went to extend their nets farther into the ocean to recoup fishing time that’s been lost as their sites fill in and mud flats there grow.