Jul 3, 2009
The reality of fishing, at least here in the Ugashik Fishing District of Bristol Bay, is that although the fish are here to be harvested fishermen are sitting on shore with nets out of the water!!
This has gotten so common the last few years that the state now has predicted which days that will happen, mostly the best fishing days!!
I am getting phone calls from fishermen all over our fishing district wanting to know if we are up and processing yet.
Hoping we can help them by buying a few more pounds, or even any, of their catch because they either do not have a secure buyer for their fish, are on limit by their present buyer, or their regular buyer hasn’t come down to our river yet as they are busy buying from the other river systems.
Ugashik Fishing District, one of the five in Bristol Bay, in the only river district, supporting 3 area villages, that does not have a large processor. This is despite our CDQ owning a major portion of one of the largest processors in Alaska. A number of fishermen, even resident fishermen do not have a market with this company. Makes you wonder what deals were made or not made. Given we, as all western village residents, are shareholders in the CDQ.
In our two villages of Pilot Point and Ugashik we have at least 30%, by last informal tally, of fishermen without a secure market, and all but handful get put on limit or have no buyer at all for anywhere from 1-6 days each year. In the village of Ugashik only our CDQ board member has a secure market.
Last year a special meeting was held in the area hub town of Naknek to discuss this issue, called forgone harvest. Overall the impression that most carry away from it, the state is going to let the private industry figure it out.
We have allowed, even greatly encouraged, out of state companies to dominate our seafood industry. Why?
I have heard lots about the lack of infrastructure in Western Alaska and thus we can’t compete. Did anyone ever think that if we were processing that seafood in the state there would be more dollars kept here to work their way through the system to support the building of more infrastructure?
I realize all of this is years in the making and not an easy situation but to continue this is a waste of talent, monies and the growth, healthy sustainable growth of our villages and state economy.