Fisheries Management Among Topics At Alaska Representative Election Debate

The candidates vying for Alaska’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives debated each other on Wednesday night. As you might expect in an Alaska election, the current state of Alaska’s fisheries was among the topics discussed.

The full video to the debate is at the top of the page. The talk about managing Alaska’s salmon runs starts at 4:58. Each of the four candidates, Peltola, former Governor of Alaska and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, fellow Republican Mark Begich and Libertarian candidate Chris Bye each had about 45 seconds to talk about the declining salmon runs in parts of the state.

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


“I think that we have to urge our managers, at both the federal and state level, to really invest. I want to be part of making sure that we have adequate funding to do research and surveys to see what’s really going on. But we can’t just wait. We’ve got to take precautionary management. We cannot allow metric tons of bycatch of juvenile salmon and crab and halibut to be thrown overboard every year. This has led to a very devastating collapse of not only salmon and halibut, but now we’re seeing it in the crab industry as well. We’ve got to get a hold on our bycatch as well as find out some of the reasons why we’re having such low productivity in the Bering Sea right now.”


“Well, I think it’s important to understand that we had a record year in Bristol Bay this year. And so when we see these dramatically declining runs in areas of our state, we see other areas that are succeeding very well, so we need to look at those areas that are succeeding and see if we can draw some lessons from that. I think trawl bycatch is a big issue. That’s something that needs to be addressed immediately. I think that we need to be careful in how we go through our Magnuson-Stevens Act reauthorization and making sure we’re putting precision language into the act that is actually going to demonstrably improve the sustainability of these fisheries. We have a mandate under the state constitution for maximum sustainable yield, and every fishery in this state needs to be managed with that objective.”


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


“Near and dear to my heart – the fish issues – having for years and years set-netted on the Nushagak in Bristol Bay. And as your Governor knowing that our state is doing a good job. Fish and Game – we do maximize our resources and this is a renewable resource – the fish are. We manage it for maximum sustained (state) in perpetuity is ideal (management). It’s the feds who lack the enforcement, the bycatch laws that too many people are getting away with, especially foreign trawlers. They’re not allowing those salmon to get back to where they need to be to spawn. We need to bust these people who are doing these illegal activities. You take their vessels, you take their gear, you take their permits and we start teaching them a lesson.”