The new president of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association said he plans to focus on more on quality and marketing during the next year.
KDLG's Molly Dischner reports:
BBRSDA held a board meeting and its annual membership meeting in Dillingham June 6, and the board selected new board member Buck Gibbons as its new president.
Gibbons said that he wants to focus on marketing, even if that means stepping back somewhat on sustainability issues.
“I understand that sustainability is important, and we will never lose sight of the fact that we need to protect this habitat and this watershed, and all things that generate our liveliehood, but at the same time we need to get prepared for new market realities,” Gibbons said. “We also are blessed with the problem of having 40 or 50 million fish come out of the water this year, I’m not so sure if we’re prepared for, or if anyone’s prepared for, the marketing challenges that lie ahead of us. Like it or not we are tied to the inventories of our processing partners.”
Gibbons said he wants the organization to work more closely with processors to sell their inventory and get ex-vessel prices up.
“I’d like to see us engage the processing community at the executive level, and certainly at their marketing level, to see what we could do to help them move these volumes,” Gibbons said. “They have the inventory, they have the marketing plans in place or are willing to develop additional marketing plans, but I see us being more effective than trying to come in and subsidize those efforts, rather than trying to come in and create our own, ‘cause at the end of the day, we don’t have anything to sell.”
As to the one of the other main issues that was raised as the association’s meeting with drifters on Saturday, Gibbons said he’s interested in continuing the discussion on the potential for a permit buyback, but he’s not ready to commit new revenue to the project right now.
“We’ve got a pretty big investment right now as it stands, and just to walk away from it, I’m not so sure that’s strategic,” Gibbons said. “That doesn’t necessarily mean we have to throw additional revenue at it for now, but. I think the buyback thing is still worth having the discussion with key stakeholders and industry partners. I would look forward to having that discussion before we decide what to do on the next logical steps towards either waving goodbye to a buyback, or proceeding with, or handing it off, putting it on the backburner.”
BBRSDA can’t initiate a buyback itself, but the organization has been studying what might happen in the fishery if one occurred, and is considering another study that looks more at social and economic impacts.
Gibbons said most of the work he’s planning will start next fall. First, the fleet just needs to get through the fishing season.
“We’ve got a great board and it’s time to get through the season and then get to work,” Gibbons said. “I think I’m going to go fishing just to get some rest, based on the last couple of days, as I see what’s going on here.”