Sustainable fisheries discussed at Arctic Encounter Symposium

Discussion of methods and concerns for maintaining sustainable fisheries was discussed at the Arctic Encounter Symposium.
Published: Mar. 30, 2023 at 3:27 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Discussion of methods and concerns for maintaining sustainable fisheries was discussed at the Arctic Encounter Symposium on Wednesday, including limiting bycatch and introducing Indigenous perspectives.

Much of the discussion from the symposium centered around commercial fisheries on a global scale, and how the United States is working with other countries to regulate their fisheries, especially in the Central Arctic Ocean through the Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean.

“There will not be commercial fisheries in this area for at least the life of the agreement, which is 16 years,” Executive Director of the Federal Arctic Executive Steering Committee David Balton said.

The agreement is between 10 entities including the European Union, China, Japan, Russia and the United States. After the initial 16 years, the agreement will continue in 5-year increments until a country ends its agreement.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Douglas Vincent-Lang also gave an update on the ADF&G Bycatch Taskforce’s findings and said that the North Pacific Fishery Management Council would be considering the task force’s recommendations for management in the future. While Vincent-Lang hopes bycatching will be limited, he says that it’s unlikely it will be outright eliminated.

“Because those fisheries are important to the state’s economy and to feed the world’s population. But I think we should take meaningful steps to try to minimize it,” Vincent-Lang said.

Several of the speakers at the symposium also took the time to discuss the importance of Indigenous knowledge, and how it can be used to influence fisheries in the current environment.

“Most Indigenous people on the North American continent have been here for over 16,000 years, and you don’t live in a place for that long by messing it up,” NOAA Senior Advisor of Tribal Engagements and Fisheries Zach Penney said.

Vincent-Lang also spoke on Indigenous values in fisheries, and how the boards of Fish and Game can incorporate those through their public forum periods.

“It’s critical to have that information incorporated into the decision-making processes moving forward,” Vincent-Lang said.

The Arctic Encounter Symposium is one of the largest Arctic policy events in America and continues until Friday.