March 22, 2019
I am writing to support recommendations from the Alaska Trollers Association (ATA) relative to assignment of Pacific Salmon Treaty Mitigation Funds.
Members of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) are owner-operators of small-scale commercial fishing boats who participate in a diverse array of fisheries. Over two thirds of our members participate in the salmon fisheries, and the majority of those participate in the troll fisheries.
As you are aware, trollers were hard hit by 2018 salmon management decisions and will suffer even greater reductions in Chinook access as a result of the recently renegotiated Pacific Salmon Treaty. While ALFA does not participate directly in the Pacific Salmon Treaty negotiations, we have become increasingly concerned by the chronic reductions in Alaska’s harvest share and alarmed by the proposed management solutions. Our assessment is that Alaska’s participation and position in the Pacific Salmon Treaty should be reviewed and strengthened. With respect, ALFA requests that Alaska’s Congressional delegation initiate that review.
While this review is ongoing, we understand Alaska has the opportunity to direct mitigation funds. Our members appreciate the Alaska delegation’s request that fishing organizations provide recommendations on uses of Treaty mitigation funds. Although mitigation money will never replace fishing opportunity, these funds can and should be dedicated to strengthening fish stocks and fishing opportunity for the future. Because trollers were the gear group most disadvantaged by the new Treaty terms, ALFA recognizes that funds should also be spent in ways that compensate trollers and maximize future opportunity for this gear group. We believe ATA has taken great care to recommend mitigation fund expenditures that reflect these priorities without eliminating any requests made by other user groups and we support their recommendations. More specifically, we support hatchery mitigation funding that increases coho production and associated research. Cohos are the second most important troll species after Chinook and increased coho production will provide essential, appropriate and important benefits to the troll fishery.
ALFA also supports requirements for matching funds. Matching funds increase the impact and
benefits of the mitigation funds and enhance both commitment and accountability. We expect
that the matching requirement will be in part met through collaboration, which also contributes
to effective engagement and coordination.
Finally, ALFA understands that Congress often hesitates to support direct payment to
fishermen. While we support ATA’s request that mitigation expenditures include a measure of
direct payment to fishermen, if this is not supportable by Congress, ALFA asks that you
champion other approaches that provide lasting benefits to trollers, such as health insurance.
Many fishermen struggle to afford health care, and a Treaty funded health insurance pool could
make a lasting difference.
In closing, ALFA appreciates your request for recommendations from the fishing industry on
mitigation fund expenditures, and we wish to communicate our strong support for
recommendations from ATA. ATA has carefully and inclusively developed appropriate
recommendations to mitigate impacts of a poor Treaty outcome.
Thank you for your support of Alaska’s fisheries and for your consideration of our
(Executive Director, ALFA)