The Naknek-Kvichak Advisory Committee came out in support of permit stacking at its meeting in Naknek on Thursday night.
Like most of the ACs around the bay, Naknek-Kvichak supports requiring fishermen to drop their card as soon as they start fishing, and opposes reducing the waiting period to switch districts. But unlike the other ACs, the Naknek-Kvichak committee lent its support for permit stacking for both setnetters and drifters.
Much of the permit-stacking discussion Thursday revolved around how to keep permits in the hands of watershed residents. Pete Caruso was among several at the meeting who thought permit stacking could help.
“At 50 cents a pound, you’re not making it as a single permit holder," he said. "We have to make it look more attractive for our locals to get involved, to keep these permits here.”
Caruso also said some of the concerns about permit stacking – that it raises permit prices and reduces jobs --- aren’t necessarily true.
“It’s like anything. Maybe it doesn’t work on the westside, but it works on the eastside, and I’d like to see permit stacking stay in place," he said.
Other advisory committees and Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp. have come out against permit stacking this fall. But most at the Naknek-Kvichak committee meeting echoed Caruso’s support, including drifter Abe Williams who authored one of the permit stacking proposals, and agreed with Caruso that it could be a way to help local fishermen.
Rich Wilson also agreed - and addressed the only real concern raised: the possibility of job losses.
“It’s not true that if you have two sites or two permits, that you’re gonna hire less people," he said. "You still need a lot of people to run those sites. And it’s really benefited families not losing those permits.”
The committee voted 7-1 to encourage the BOF to allow setnet permit stacking and 7-1 to allow it for drifters.
The committee also supported changing the Bristol Bay boundary to include some fishing areas near Port Heiden, and supported a change to the Graveyard District boundaries requested by setnetters there.