Bearing Down on The Ballot
In other parts of the state, the decline of the King Salmon is igniting intense and increasingly toxic debates among the many user groups who depend on salmon to survive. There is an effort by a conservation group, The Alaska Fisheries Conservation Alliance (AFCA) to outlaw the commercial harvest practice of setnetting, based on the charge that setnetting is an indiscriminate means of harvest that devastates other species in the form of by-catch. Under the guise of environmental stewardship, this would seem like a fair argument and consistent with measures in other states to curtail that commercial practice.
But as you dig into the story you find that the Alaska Department of Fish & Game doesn’t necessarily agree, claiming that by catch of non-salmon species is too low to measure. Critics of the AFCA say that when you follow the money you find that the AFCA is funded by stakeholders in the state’s sport fishing industry, which would benefit tremendously if setnetting was outlawed, and who have charges of their own to address by harvesting a significant number of King salmon and potentially impacting salmon spawning grounds.
By giving equal voice to stakeholders on both sides of this issue, we will track the story leading up to the ballot measure in 2016 Highlighting the disruption of this commercial salmon fishery could have broad economic impacts on many small towns throughout the state, and on our access to wild caught Alaskan salmon in the Lower 48.