Gulf groundfish plan debated

Posted: Tuesday, March 28, 2000

KODIAK - A controversial proposal to divide Gulf of Alaska groundfish harvests and limit processors got a thorough airing over the weekend at Comfish 2000, the annual gathering of the fishing industry here.

A proposal for a co-op fishery, a work-in-progress by the Alaska Groundfish Data Bank, would divide the groundfish resource based on a boat's catch history, and it would limit processors in the groundfish industry.

Many in the industry think limiting processors would hurt fish prices and coastal economies.

And several people in the audience said they were worried that new fishermen would be locked out of gulf groundfish fisheries if a co-op similar to the one set up for Bering Sea pollock was set up.

``Instead of just buying a boat, I'll have a boat, license, and quota to buy,'' said local fisherman Patty O'Donnell. ``If I have to invest $3 million to get in (to the fishery), I might as well take that $3 million and retire.''

Oliver Holm, a Kodiak fisherman, argued that such a system would encourage processors to buy up boats and their catch histories, leaving independent fishermen in the dust.

``The people with the most leverage to buy boats are the processors,'' Holm said. ``It is very difficult to regulate consolidation.''

Eric Jordan of Sitka, a representative of the Alaska Marine Conservation Council, said his major concern was making sure conservation measures were part of any co-op proposal.

``We can't leave it up to the folks involved to promise conservation measures will be implemented,'' said Alan Parks of Homer, another representative of the conservation council.

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