Hatcheries a vital part of Alaska’s fisheries

- By Jerry Mccune

Summer is here, and salmon are returning to Alaska's rivers. Boats stream out of our harbors while Alaskans ready their sport rods, dipnets, and subsistence nets to take part in the annual harvest. Amid this swirl of activity runs another current that is far less enjoyable — the swirl of fish politics. The current topic of discussion, misinformation, and debate is Alaska's hatchery program.

Commercial fishermen and seafood processors partner with the State of Alaska to purchase the latest sonar technology.

By Copper River / Prince William Sound Marketing Association

The addition of state of the art sonar was made possible by a one-time collaboration between the State of Alaska and the seafood industry. Between February and March 2018, Copper River and Prince William Sound commercial gillnet salmon fishermen and their buyers agreed to assist Alaska Department of Fish and Game in the purchase of the fourth ARIS sonar unit to be installed at the Miles Lake sonar station.

Copper River salmon fishermen pay a 1% marketing tax that funds a regional seafood development association (RSDA), the Copper River Prince William Sound Marketing Association (CR/PWSMA). The Association and its members contributed $75,000 to the purchase of the ARIS. Cordova District Fishermen United (CDFU), the fisherman’s advocacy organization for the Prince William Sound area, contributed $7000 to the purchase from the gillnet division of their membership. Salmon buyers in the Copper River District also contributed significant funds to the project; Copper River Seafoods, North Pacific, Ocean Beauty, Trident Seafoods each came to the purchase with $6375 while Alaska Wild Seafood contributed $2500. In all, Copper River fishermen contributed $82,000 to the purchase that will benefit all resource management, subsistence, sport and commercial.

Get involved in CDFU

By Ezekial Brown

A piece on why fishermen should get involved with our organization and how one of our board members came to join us and has been extremely active in our mission. 

"As commercial fishermen there are many things outside of our control; weather conditions, the natural cycles of wild stocks or occasionally getting corked. The political economy of fishing and fishing rights however is one arena in which we can make our voices be heard."

"That is why I have been a member of Cordova District Fishermen United since I first bought into gillnetting seven years ago. CDFU has been advocating for commercial fishing rights and the individuals in Cordova’s community for over 80 years. This past year I joined CDFU’s board of directors in order to become more involved and, after testifying at Board of Fish in December, I feel as though a strong advocacy group for fishermen is more relevant and necessary than ever before."

EVOS given a May 28 deadline to buy coal rights

In December of 2017, a coalition opposed to potential strip mining of coal in the Copper River Delta Watershed sent a letter to Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott urging their leadership in expediting a link-to-injury assessment that they said is the first step needed for the trustee council to consider and commit to using some EVOS funding to acquire and protect 11,000 acres of coal in the Bering River coal field.

The coalition recognized that for the trustee council to expend EVOS settlement funds that a “link-to-injury” determination was needed for any potential habitat project relating to the species and human services injured by the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill.

The link to injury in this instance is compelling and we believe that the use of EVOS consent decree funding to achieve this historic effort is fully justified and with such strong justification and rationale would be agreed to if necessary by the court the coalition said.

The letter was signed by hundreds of individuals, plus small businesses and non-profit entities, including Copper River Watershed Project, Cordova Mayor Clay Koplin, Cordova District Fishermen United, Orca Adventure Lodge, individual fish harvesters, marine conservation biologist Rick Steiner of Anchorage, and others.

Legislative Update: Progress continues on operating, capital budget

After passage of Proposal 165, Senator Stevens and I, along with Cordova District Fishermen United and many other commercial fishing organizations, wrote letters protesting the action and asking the board to hold a special meeting in April to readdress the issue before the start of the season. The outcry from individual commercial fishermen was also impressive, as the board received scores of letters

Harbor Cleanup Day sees support from local children

Glass bottles, tarps, plastic buoys, paper and other trash littering Cordova’s harbor are gone, thanks to groups of volunteers who turned out on Saturday, April 14 for Harbor Cleanup Day. Together they tackled the soggy trash tucked in the rocky shores of the breakwater, underneath the ramps on the muddy harbor floor and intertwined in the bushes that border the sidewalk, bagged and disposed of it all. The event was hosted by Cordova District Fisherman United and Native Village of Eyak.

Federal Fisheries Managers Rule on Angler-Caught Halibut

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has ruled that when halibut harvested using sport guide services possessed with halibut not using sport guide services in Southeast and Southcentral Alaska that all the fish are subject to guided sport fishing limits.

The final action came during the spring meeting of the council this past week in Anchorage.The council also approved implementation of an annual registration process for transferable and non-transferable charter halibut permits.

CDFU's history and Involvement

A video interview with one of CDFU's past Executive Directors sharing and overview of what we do and our history. 

Finfish issues on tap at Valdez Dec. 1-5

Over 50 proposals regarding Prince William Sound and Upper Copper and Susitna river finfish issues will be under consideration at the Alaska Board of Fisheries meeting in Valdez Dec. 1-5, including 10 specifically related to the Copper River commercial salmon fishery.

Proposal 28, from the gillnet division of Cordova District Fishermen United proposes the repeal of mandatory inside waters commercial salmon fishery closures under the Copper River King Salmon Management Plan.

Salmon Jam offers many events for youngsters

"Educational activities for the young and young at heart, from fish printing to face painting to learning about salmon ecology. Cordova District Fishermen United provides a fillet demonstration for the public, producing two fillets from a whole sockeye salmon. This event occurs annually with the help of local processors fillet experts at Salmon Jam, the main fundraising event for Cordova Arts and Pageants." 

Drift fishermen donate hundreds of Copper River sockeye

"Traditions – Alaska is steeped in them. Cordova has its fair share, but a favorite is Cordova District Fishermen United’s Senior Salmon Day.

Copper River salmon drift fishermen donate hundreds of Copper River sockeye each year, in times both lean and plenty. Local processors and community volunteers pitch in too, because even in Cordova, home to the Copper River fishing fleet, there are many households without access to those prized fish.Luckily, fishermen are a generous bunch, and CDFU helps to harness that generosity by hosting an annual sidewalk giveaway for community elders age 60 and up."

Published by The Cordova Times, 30th of June 2017

Fish to School Luncheon celebrates strategic community partnerships


"...Did anyone think at that time that school lunches would evolve to include Copper River salmon, a dish that consumers pay top dollar to enjoy in fancy restaurants around the world? Thanks to the efforts of local fishermen, processors, school chef Sandie Ponte and facilitation by Cordova District Fishermen United, Cordova students enjoy local seafood on a weekly basis."

Published by the Cordova Times, 5th of May 2017

Seafood harvesters group opposes bill focused on recreational fishing

"A new bill focused on recreational fishing has drawn strong opposition from the nation’s largest organization of commercial seafood harvesters.The Seafood Harvesters of America  (which CDFU is a part of) claims that the bill would hamstring federal regional fishery councils’ ability to manage the fishery sector and most species, while also limiting the ability to innovate new solutions to overfishing."

Published by Portland Press Herald, 10th of Apr. 2017

North Pacific council takes first step in creating salmon plan

"A lot of new faces are coming to the table at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, and not a lot of them are happy about it. Fishermen who had never previously been involved with the council now have to show up to have a hand in how their fisheries will be incorporated into a federal fishery management plan, or FMP."

Published by Alaska Journal of Commerce, 7th of Apr. 2017

BOF approves PWS tanner crab harvest strategy

"Harvest strategies for tanner crab fisheries in Prince William Sound have been approved by the Alaska Board of Fisheries, clearing the way for commercial, sport and subsistence harvests when the crab meet abundance thresholds. Proposal 268, submitted by Cordova District Fishermen United to the Board of Fisheries, amends regulations for Tanner crab in Prince William Sound specifying conditions under which the commercial fishery may occur and establishes a sport fishery for Tanner crab there as well, when the threshold level is reached for mature male abundance."

Published by the Cordova Times, 30th March 2017