Below is a letter from Bob Penney to Alaska Legislators regarding a ban on set nets in Alaska. While I personally think this is a stupid idea what is important in the upcoming debate is honesty in the rationale for or against the ban. Mr. Penney states it has to do with conservation. Bull. The stocks of fish he is targeting with the set net ban have been managed in a sustained way since Statehood. This is about allocation and the desire to eliminate members of these communities to achieve that end. Saying they will be compensated shows a complete lack of understanding of the culture of commercial fishing. It is like telling a sport fisherman you never get to fish again but we will pay you not to fish. I doubt many on this forum would accept money for giving up their desire to participate in a traditional activity for the rest of their lives and their children lives.
This has been a desire of Mr. Penney for 33 years. I hope Alaskans have more sense than to sign the petition to put it on the ballot. There are ways to deal with allocation in place and while they are not perfect they are working for the most part or flaws can be corrected. I doubt that 1 million sockeye harvested by UCI personal use and sport fisherman makes the case for an unfair system.
We as a group of citizens can do better than this in my opinion.
From: Debra DeMelfi <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: November 6, 2013, 9:52:46 AKST
Subject: AFCA, Inc Setnet Initiative
Dear Alaska Legislator;
As you may have heard, in the near future we will be pursuing an initiative to be placed on the 2016 ballot to ban the use of set nets in the non-subsistence areas of Alaska.
This initiative will do the same thing in portions of Alaska that has been done in the states of Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas, New York, California, and most recently in the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon. In each of those instances, the public voted to restrict the use of set nets and since that first vote over 25 years ago, no set nets
What would our initiative do? It would only ban set nets in the five, present-day non-subsistence designated areas of Fairbanks, Anchorage, Valdez, Juneau, and Ketchikan. That is less than 10% of the state, but encompasses over 70% of the state's population. Set nets in the rural or other 90% of our state would still be allowed as a means of fishing. This vote will not affect the rural areas.
Why is the initiative needed? In short, this initiative is all about conservation. Set nets are the most indiscriminate means of fishing allowed in State waters, with the largest amount of by-catch of any fishery. Because of how they are fixed in place, they usually catch and kill every species of fish that is swimming by, including our prized king salmon.
What will happen to existing set net permit holders in those areas? If the initiative passes, they will receive fair compensation for the value of their permits.
Many things have changed in Alaska since the early days of statehood and limited-entry commercial fishing. Today, we better understand the negative effects of utilizing set nets to indiscriminately kill fish stocks. We can and must do a better job of managing our precious fishery resources for the benefit of all Alaskans. The time has come for Alaskans to stand up and prioritize conservation.
We hope you will take a stand in support of our efforts.
Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance Inc.