Alaska

Fisheries Management Among Topics At Alaska Representative Election Debate

The candidates vying for Alaska’s only seat in the US House of Representatives debated each other Wednesday night. As you might expect from an Alaskan election, the current state of Alaskan fishing was among the issues discussed.

See the full video of the debate at the top of the page. The conversation about managing Alaska’s salmon slopes starts at 4:58. Each of the four candidates, Peltola, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, Republican Mark Begich and Libertarian candidate Chris Bye, each had about 45 seconds to discuss declining salmon runs in parts of the state.

Here’s what each quartet had to say about the conservation of salmon and other species:

Peltola

“I think we need to push our leaders at the federal and state levels to really invest. I want to help ensure we have adequate resources to conduct research and surveys to see what is really going on. But we can’t just wait. We must take precautions. We cannot allow tons of bycatch of juvenile salmon, crab and halibut to be thrown overboard every year. This has led to a very devastating collapse not only in salmon and halibut but now we are seeing it in the shrimp industry as well. We need to get a handle on our bycatch and figure out some of the reasons why we’re having such low productivity in the Bering Sea right now.”

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“Well I think it’s important to understand that we had a record year at Bristol Bay this year. So when we see these dramatically declining runs in areas of our state, we see other areas that are doing very well, so we need to look at those areas that are doing well and see if we can learn some lessons from that. I think trawl bycatch is a big problem. This is something that needs to be addressed immediately. I think we need to be careful how we go through our Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization and make sure we put precise language into action that will actually demonstrably improve the sustainability of these fisheries. We have a constitutional mandate for maximum sustainable yield and every fishery in this state must be managed with that goal in mind.”

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“You know, I’m a fishing guide and I saw three king salmon on the Chena this year. Three. In total. And I spent more than 50 days on the Chena. I agree with Miss Peltola about the bycatch, but simply throwing it back doesn’t solve the problem. I honestly think we need to get the industry more involved in reducing their catches. Otherwise it won’t be there. It’s just a renewable resource until it’s all gone. And I think just like Mr. Nick said about the Magnuson-Stevens Act just now, Miss Peltola has decided that we’re going to use race as an increase in the allocation of seats on the Council. I would say it needs to be done by the regions so that all Alaskans are prioritized for salmon renewal.”

Palin

“The fish issues are very close to my heart having been net fishing on the Nushagak in Bristol Bay for years. And as your governor, to know our state is doing a good job. Fish and game – we maximize our resources and this is a renewable resource – the fish is. We manage it for maximum sustainability (condition) in the long run is ideal (management). It’s federal agencies that lack enforcement, the bycatch laws that too many people get away with, especially foreign trawlers. They don’t allow these salmon to return to where they need to be to spawn. We need to arrest these people who are doing these illegal activities. You take their ships, you take their equipment, you take their permits and we start teaching them a lesson.”

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