How to make the most of your 3-minutes at Upper Cook Inlet Fish Board meeting

February 8, 2017

 

The state Board of Fisheries’ biggest meeting takes place this month with 174 regulation proposals coming under consideration for Upper Cook Inlet commercial, sport, personal use and subsistence fisheries.

The Anchorage meeting will attract a huge audience and many are unfamiliar with the board process.  Board director, Glenn Haight, says a one-hour lunch meeting on the first day will run people through ropes

“What we do is we’ll walk a group through the Board of Fish process – go through the term s, the meeting lay out, how it moves from staff reports to public testimony, to committee and deliberations and just tell them where they want to fit in  and get their input in and how to provide more effective testimony, how to speak to board members and make a strong impact, and just make them more familiar with it.”  
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When you have three minutes to make your case, it’s important to make an impression.

“It’s really important to try and be impactful and if you’re someone who is going to come back and participate in any of the committees that is a good time to save your really detailed discussions. But if you can just make for public testimony you really want to make an impression so it’s important to plan that out.”

After public testimony,   Haight says the Board breaks into committees to flesh out proposal details.  Haight says the process is designed to hear from as many people as possible.

Public testimony always occurs at beginning, at Upper Cook Inlet it’s likely day 2 and 3. Then the board groups into committees and it’s an opportunity for anyone to be heard about the specific details. The board can really tease out all of the important information from people in the audience so it’s a valuable opportunity for the board to hear from as many people as possible.

The Board of Fisheries meets February 23 through March 8 at the Anchorage Sheraton. Learn about the Fish Board process over lunch on the first day.


 


 

Bering Sea Tanner crab fishery tanked by Board of Fisheries

Bairdi Tanner crab are the larger cousins of snow crab (opilio Tanner)
Credit: adfg


 

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – The Bering Sea Tanner crab fishery gets tanked for this year. More after this –

It was bad news for Bering Sea crabbers when the last hope for a bairdi Tanner fishery was dashed last week. The Board of Fisheries in a split vote decided against opening the fishery which produced 20 million pounds last year.  Crab harvests are based on results of summer surveys and for Tanners, the numbers are driven by the abundance of female crab. Those numbers were not sufficient enough to open even a reduced fishery.

“There’s something of a disconnect between all the people looking at it, the scientists and fishermen. And we thought there were enough crab to warrant a small harvest of four million pounds, which would be about four percent of the mature male biomass. Others thought a more precautionary approach was warranted. That’s where we’re at  – we are certainly disappointed but we will continue to work with Fish and Game and NOAA and crab plan team and continue looking and improving the way we look at the stock.”

Tyson Fick is spokesman for the trade group Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers.  Based on their pot pulls, the crabbers believe there are lots of Tanners out there that were missed by the annual survey.

  “We certainly all agree there are a lot of male bairdi out there but the harvest strategy hinges on a population of mature females. You don’t necessarily see those in the fishery because they escape through escape rings, they fall through the mesh. They are substantially smaller than the males targeted in the fishery. So we have to rely on other methods of finding out what the female undersized biomass is.”



It adds up to about a $50 million loss to the crab fleet. An even bigger hit stems from the Tanner crab drop out in the market place. Bairdi Tanners are the larger cousin of snow crab by a pound or more and the crabbers and ASMI worked hard to build a Tanner brand when the fishery was reopened just three years ago.

“Red Lobster and Joe’s Crab Shack and Publix Markets and all these domestic markets really appreciated what they are getting. It’s going to be an uphill road when we come back into the market again. “ 

Crab populations are highly cyclical and it’s tough to balance an appropriate harvest with protecting the resource and providing economic opportunity. Meanwhile, crabbers targeting snow crab now report hauling up lots of Tanners that must be tossed back. Fick says stakeholders are now planning a framework for a long term harvest strategy. He’s hopeful the Tanner crab customers will still be there when the fishery resumes.

“We hope our consumers who were so excited with bairdi crab in the market will be with us when it is back on the market and will understand that sometimes this is what sustainable fisheries management is about when products come and go in the market  it fluctuates with the biomass.”