Sea crab fishermen are looking for emergency relief from the Crab
Rationalization program, but it’s not what you might think. KMXT’s Casey Kelly
Although issues of
displaced crew and fair compensation still exist and are still on the table,
those were not the most pressing concern identified by the North Pacific
Fishery Management Council, meeting in Kodiak over the weekend. That
distinction belongs to “emergency relief,” which refers to giving crab skippers
the ability to break from the program’s regionalism requirements under certain
Council member Sam
Cotten is chairman of the council’s crab committee. He says certain
protections, such as processor quota shares, built into the program to protect
communities like St. Paul in the Pribilof Islands, are having unforeseen
(Crab Relief 1 :36s “…in case of an emergency.”)
One idea that’s
been proposed is to give skippers enough leeway to make the call whether or not
the conditions are safe enough to make a delivery. If the skippers feel it’s
unsafe they could take their load to another processor in another port, then
file an affidavit swearing that the conditions prevented them from making it
(Crab Relief 2 :20s “…problem might be solved.”)
St. Paul Mayor
Simeon Swetzof says he has no problem with giving skippers the ability to go to
another port when ice conditions prevent them from offloading in his community.
But he wants to make sure St. Paul’s financial interests are protected.
(Crab Relief 3 :14s “…to the community of St. Paul.”)
Paz-Soldan advises the city of St. Paul on fisheries issues. He hopes the final
emergency relief measures adopted by the council will take into account other
types of emergencies that might affect other communities that are stakeholders
in the Bering Sea crab fisheries.
(Crab Relief 4 :24s “…a lot at stake here.”)
But even Cotten
admits that it would be a lot easier if processor quotas and other regionalism
measures weren’t such a major part of the crab program.
(Crab Relief 5 :15s “…now there is.”)
The council’s crab
committee meets in September and is expected to review a discussion paper on
various options for providing emergency relief from regionalism under Crab
Rationalization. That will hopefully lead to the council developing a solution
by the end of this year.
I’m Casey Kelly.