Board to discuss Bristol Bay boundary change

Dec 3, 2015

The proposals up for discussion at the state Board of Fisheries meeting this week include some that would move the fishery near Port Heiden into the Bristol Bay fishery.

The proposals up for discussion at the state Board of Fisheries meeting this week include some that would move the fishery near Port Heiden into the Bristol Bay fishery.

Changing the boundary between the Alaska Peninsula and Bristol Bay fisheries has been supported by most of the local advisory committees for Bristol Bay. But not everyone is on board with the change. During public testimony on Thursday, Area M drift fisherman Chris Wenzel said he opposed moving the boundary.

“Cape Mesnikoff has been a boundary between Alaska Peninsula and Bristol Bay since the early 19-hundreds. Taking Alaska Peninsula waters and making them Bristol Bay waters would create lost revenue for Alaska Peninsula processors, local communities and the Alaska Peninsula fishing fleet,” Wenzel said. “…What these proposals reveal is a long-standing bias that somehow, the Alaska Peninsula should be subservient to Bristol Bay. We disagree with that attitude.”

Wenzel offered some other ideas for boundary changes if, as he put it “the board wants to declare open-season on regional boundaries,” including moving the Ugashik District into the Alaska Peninsula.

Other fishermen have supported the moving the Mesnikoff boundary.

During her testimony, Gerda Kosbruk, from Port Heiden, said fishermen in the area want the waters in front of their homes to be considered part of Bristol Bay.

"We've always been Bristol Bay fishermen," she said.

The board won't make a decision on the boundary issue until the Alaska Peninsula finfish meeting in February.

Public testimony is expected to wrap up today, and then the board will move to discussing specific groups of proposals in the more informal committee of the whole process -- starting with the boundary changes.