Monday, December 7, 2009

Crunch time

The Alaska Board of Fisheries is bearing down on the finish of its big Bristol Bay meeting, and we might see a vote today on the hottest item: Proposal 15, which would eliminate the 32-foot length limit on driftnet boats.

A board subcommittee already has hashed through the pros and cons, and naturally no consensus was reached.

This will be a tough call, and the outcome is uncertain considering the new members we have on the board since the last time the 32-foot limit came up.

Here's a Deckboss prediction: The proposal won't pass. It might not even come to an actual vote.

Changing the longstanding length limit seems like a pretty fundamental step for the state's top salmon fishery, and rural Alaska interests are opposed.

They believe fishermen from Lower 48 cities would have an advantage in converting to a larger and potentially more competitive boat because they have better access to financing and boatyards.

So, no, I don't see Proposal 15 passing. The board might go with something like a study committee, however.

Anyway, I'll update you with the outcome just as soon as I know it.

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