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ABOUT US

The United Cook Inlet Drift Association (UCIDA) was incorporated in 1980 to represent the 570 drift gillnet salmon fishing permit holders in Alaska’s Cook Inlet. UCIDA’s purpose is to enhance and perpetuate the interests of this valuable commercial salmon fishing industry.

Wild Alaskan salmon have been commercially harvested in Cook Inlet since 1882. Over the past twenty years, the drift gillnet fishing fleet has harvested more than 271 million pounds of salmon, primarily sockeye salmon. The combined efforts of the drift and set gillnet fisheries in Upper Cook Inlet have produced average annual harvests of over 23 million pounds of wild salmon for the American and world markets during the past twenty years. Five percent of the world’s supply of sockeye salmon comes from Cook Inlet.

UCIDA’s Board of Directors and staff work to promote responsible management to ensure the long-term health of this abundant salmon resource and the resulting opportunities and benefits it provides. The day-to-day work of UCIDA covers an extremely broad range of issues that ultimately affect salmon, their harvest and marketing. These may include fishery management, invasive species, oil and gas lease sales, navigation issues, endangered species acts, oil spill response, local, state and federal regulatory issues and both state and federal litigation.

The nine members of the Board of Directors serve staggered three-year terms. Elections are held at annual membership meetings. Members (Upper Cook Inlet drift gillnet permit holders) and Associate Members are encouraged to attend all Board meetings.

 

 

Office Manager – Audrey Salmon – info@ucida.org

Board of Directors

David MartinPresidentF/V Kaguyak
Erik Huebsch1st VPF/V Williwaw
Dan Anderson2nd VPF/V Paragon
Dino SutherlandSec/TreasF/V Rivers End
Ilia KuzminDirectorF/V Currency
John McCombsDirectorF/V Rayo Verde
Ian PitzmanDirectorF/V Stephanie Ann
Steve TvenstrupDirectorF/V Alaskan Lady
Dyer VanDevereDirectorF/V Swift Arrow

 


43961 K-Beach Road, Suite E
Soldotna, Alaska
(907) 260-9436

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Youngbloods: Fight for the fish
By Hannah Heimbuch March 19, 2019

Fish is a fighting word no matter what coast you home port in, what kind of metal or mesh you put in the water. There’s always something between you and making that landing — the weather, the water, the fish itself or the politics of its capture.
I live and commercial fish in a region of Alaska particularly known for its fish wars. The Kenai Peninsula is on the road system, with Homer at the end of it. It’s ideal for accessing both commercial and recreational fisheries; we can ship out fresh catch in short order, and tourists can park their rental cars and campers and step easily onto a guide boat or river bank. It has the basics of convenience, with a wilderness at your fingertips.
Like anything precious, over the years it’s made us both popular and polarized, and I grew up with the innate knowledge that we were a fishing people, but with a line down the middle of us — the one between commercial fishermen and sportsmen. Neighbor to neighbor, I would say most of us understand the value of a diversified working waterfront. That the public needs myriad ways to gain value from this incredible resource — through food, economy, culture and recreation. Our state constitution reflects that, and we’ve worked hard to protect it. But the top tier power struggle for access easily leaves that value behind, a trend exacerbated in recent history and mirrored up the food chain. From local fishery to national stage, in varying degrees across the country, fishermen are willing to fight their opposing sector into oblivion, convinced of a certain righteousness.
If there’s anything I hope my generation is able to improve on and off the water, it’s that.
We’ve seen major community schisms at the End of the Road. They cut deep, splitting local businesses, families and neighbors that had built lives and livelihoods alongside each other for decades. Every few years a new issue re-ups the ante on old bitterness, and fingers start pointing, who’s responsible for killing off the behemoth halibut and King salmon, who’s taking more than their share, whose boots or gear is mucking up the habitat. What to me seem like natural companions — Alaska’s community-based commercial and sport fishermen — have long stayed at loggerheads, at the expense of their common interests and the ability to problem solve the large-scale issues that impact all of us: habitat protection, sustainable harvest, ocean policy and substantial upheaval in the ecosystem.
Our multigenerational division is at best a mutually destructive waste of energy, and at worst a distraction from the actual threats operating outside our immediate ocean view. While I believe we need the push and pull of widely differing views to get to the reasonable middle, commercial and sport fishermen have been taking shots at each other long enough that we’re in danger of leaving that common ground behind for good. And what’s building in the wake of our community infighting is a blindness to the bigger picture:
Coastal communities rely on diverse fisheries and healthy ecosystems, and our behavior in the policy arena needs to reflect that unity before we get down to the brass tacks of who gets what. Our public-facing narratives all say that, but that’s hardly how we operate. Our commonality slips away all too easily, and “public resource” becomes something awarded to the individual rather than something made accessible for the broadest community good.
I won’t say I want us to stop fighting. That isn’t going to happen anytime soon, and I’m concerned that if it does, it means that we’ve chosen a winner and a list of losers, and one type of fisherman is sitting at the peaceful, lonesome top — Thanos before a bittersweet sunset. So no, let’s not stop fighting just yet.
But I would like to see us fight harder and first for the fish. For leaders and policies that are committed to growing the resource for everyone, and that understand that our communities are strongest when our fisheries are diversified. Our fishing families are relying on us to create programs that maintain access for new generations, and preserve a spectrum of coastal community livelihoods and recreational opportunities that aren’t narrowed to a single, steep path.
We also need to show the non-fishing public the value of that perspective. Commercial fisheries in particular are suffering from a public perception problem, one that we should have started fixing together a long time ago. For some reason we have yet to capture the hearts of the nation in the way of the American farmer, but we can and should, side by side with the recreational fishermen who also value this resource.
Instead we are prone to stereotyping one another for the public arena, pulling the humanity out of our respective identities so they’re easier to oppose through the loud speaker of modern media. Commercial fishermen are greedy pillagers, out for a buck with no regard for ecosystem or neighbor. The solo angler is an elitist trophy hunter, protecting an individual’s access to an experience over the public’s access to healthy food. Those stereotypes can be true on a case-by-case basis, but more often than not they’re exaggerations and assumptions that prevent us from valuing the important role both have in a healthy coastal community. In the end we are both ambassadors for the water and the land fish depend on, connecting people across the globe to the fish and ecosystems we so highly value.
None of this is new. But it’s becoming drastically more important. Our differences have prevented us from asking smart questions about the resources we share, and the biggest threats facing them in a modern era.
While we’re fighting about whether rod or net is more deserving of the salmon, whether that halibut should land on a charter boat or longline vessel, let us not forget to fight first for the fish. For science-based ocean and habitat policies that leave us something to fight for, for community access for this and future generations, for diverse working waterfronts that understand how their businesses complement each other, and the ability to evolve our fisheries, side by side rather than in opposition, for the greater good of the resource and those who depend upon it.
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Both Sides on Gillnet Issue Dig In

Copyright © 2019 Columbian.com
By Terry Otto
March 22, 2019

A crucial vote concerning the Columbia River Reforms regarding gillnets will be taken by the full Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission at a meeting on June 6-7 in Salem It will determine whether the alterations suggested by the joint-state task force will be adopted.

The controversy has both sides digging into entrenched positions, and has drawn action from the Washington state legislature. Former Washington commissioners and fisheries scientists have also weighed in with a letter to the legislature, and groups that oppose or endorse the changes have rallied the troops.

The Columbia River reforms, as enacted in 2013, are to “Allow for orderly fisheries, advance the conservation and recovery of wild salmon and steelhead, and maintain or enhance the economic well-being and stability of the fishing industry in the state.”

The policy also seeks to “phase out the use of non-tribal commercial fisheries in the mainstem Columbia River, and transition gill net use to off-channel areas.”

Commercial fishermen, and their allies, have decried the policy as a failure, pointing to no benefit derived from the buy-back program, the alternative gears program, and the lack of additional places to be used as SAFE areas.

Recreational anglers say the policy was not enacted in good faith, and the lack of benefit comes from a lack of effort on the part of fisheries managers, not a failure of the policy.

“There were lots of things that they could do within the Columbia River reforms that would help the commercial fishery,” said Larry Cassidy of Vancouver. “None of those have been addressed. The buy-back program was never initiated with the legislature, and the money for buying seines? Never undertaken.”

Proponents of the policy rollbacks have stated that the adaptive management built into the plan allows for just the kind of changes being enacted, which included putting off the final removal of gillnets in the main stem Columbia for at least one more year.

Washington Commissioner Don McIsaac voted in favor of changing the policy, and has taken some heat over that vote. In a recent interview he spoke to sections within the policy that address adaptive management.

The policy reads that it “May be modified as necessary to meet the stated purpose of the policy.”

“We are supposed to try to modify the policy to maintain the commercial fishery,” he said, pointing to figures that show the commercial fishery was not fully sustained. “We are not achieving this purpose.”

Hobe Kytr of Salmon For All, a commercial fishing advocate group, is also of the mind that the policy has failed the commercial fishermen.

“You can’t raise enough fish in those off-channel areas to replace access to the Columbia river mainstem for the commercial fishery,” said Kytr.

Pushback against the changes to the reforms has not just come from sport fishermen and their interests. The Washington legislature has responded, and a non-tribal gill net phase-out bill has been introduced, (SB 5617).

Meanwhile, the governors of both Oregon and Washington have expressed support for the original reforms.

A letter to Brad Smith of the WFWC, dated October 28, 2015, and signed by Washington Governor Jay Inslee reads, in part: “In light of the growing social and economic contribution of the recreational fishery….the Commission should fully implement the policy (3620) recently adopted and seek ways to expand public access to the recreational fishery.”

Liz Hamilton, the Executive Director of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry association, recently released a statement that addresses the letter, and the governors silence on the issue.

“The WDFW Commission has violated fundamental policies outlined in Governor Jay Inslee’s letter to the Commission, in which he pointed to the economic contributions of recreational fishing licenses sold in Washington and supported expanding recreational fishing,” said Hamilton.

“He further instructed the Commission to promote mark selective fisheries and scientifically credible hatchery practices, while considering economics. Governor Inslee, who has built a reputation on following science, has to be incredibly chagrined at the really unfortunate timing for his commission to turn their backs on science and economics as fish runs and orcas are struggling to recover.”

Governor Kate Brown of Oregon has voiced support for keeping the reforms, writing in an email: “I remain supportive of the Columbia River reforms. Moreover, legislative leadership is paying close attention to the lower Columbia fishery and whether the legislative intent of the reforms is reflected in the policies adopted by the Commission.”

Commissioner McIsaac has become frustrated with the amount of misinformation that has circulated recently, pointing to the argument that the changes to the reforms will affect orcas.

“This talk about it hurting orcas is completely false,” he said. “Once that fish goes over the bar, nothing that fish does will affect killer whales.”

“There won’t be one additional spawner anywhere in the Columbia,” said McIsaac. “Whether there is a gillnet fishery, whether it is 30 percent, 20 percent, or zero, 100 percent of those impacts would be allocated to the sport fishery so it can go as long as it can.”

He further stated that gill nets are a good way to round up hatchery fish, and keep them off the spawning grounds.

However, Hamilton disagrees.

“Gillnetting is the most destructive, the most irresponsible way to round up hatchery fish,” she said.

Among the grumblings, legislative actions, and fighting over the policy, is there the possibility of another voter initiative, similar to measure 81, the anti-gillnet ban put forward by the Coastal Conservation Association in 2012?

“I think that option is always on the table,” said Nello Picinich of the local CCA chapter.

“However, our first concern is getting sport fishermen to contact their legislature and the governors and let them know you are not happy,” he added.

Picinich believes the failure of the plan was a result of stonewalling by the commercial interests, and the inaction concerning the aspects of the policy that were not implemented fully.

Hamilton agrees with Picinich.

“The failure was with how the policy was enacted, not the policy itself,” she said.

Tensions between the two camps has exposed some biased opinions, according to McIsaac. He believes there is a segment of sport fishermen that are simply opposed to gill netting, and any other way to commercially harvest salmon.

“Some people that just don’t like commercial fishing, that’s my opinion,” he said.
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Judge Rules Adak Cod Set-Aside Unlawful, Orders NMFS to Rewrite Amendment 113

March 22, 2019

D.C. Circuit Court Judge Timothy Kelly ruled yesterday that the North Pacific Council’s Amendment 113 to the Bering Sea Groundfish Fisheries Management Plan does not comply with Magnuson-Stevens Act requirements.

The amendment, adopted in 2016, provided 5,000 mt of Pacific cod as a set-aside for processing facilities located west of 170 degrees longitude. It named the specific villages of Adak and Atka and the plants located there as the plants that would benefit from this set-aside.

Shortly after the amendment was adopted in late 2016, the Groundfish Forum, United Catcher Boats and other groups who rely on cod, flatfish, and other groundfish in the Bering Sea, filed a complaint challenging the rule, based on five separate claims for relief.

They contended first, that NMFS didn’t have the authority to “allocate shore-based processing privileges” and overstepped with this amendment.

The plaintiff’s second, third, and fourth claims alleged that A113 is inconsistent with National Standards 4, 5, and 8, respectively, and therefore that the Service’s decision to approve the amendment violated the MSA and American Procedures Act (APA).

Finally, plaintiffs claim that NMFS failed to articulate a rational basis in promulgating A113 such that the decision to adopt and implement the amendment, was arbitrary and capricious under the APA.

In March 2017, the City of Adak and the City of Atka, along with their respective community development associations, moved to intervene as defendants, joining NMFS to keep the amendment in place.

Because the complaint was brought under the American Procedures Act, the Court “sits as an appellate tribunal.”

“The entire case on review is a question of law, and the complaint, properly read, actually presents no factual allegations, but rather only arguments about the legal conclusion to be drawn about the agency action,” Kelly wrote.

“Summary judgment thus serves as the mechanism for deciding, as a matter of law, whether the agency action is supported by the administrative record and otherwise consistent with the APA standard of review.”

In his opinion, Judge Kelly ruled against the plaintiff’s first claim that NMFS didn’t have authority to impose the set aside.

“... [the] MSA does not categorically preclude the Service from implementing the measure at issue here,” Kelly wrote.

Kelly’s order to remand is based on NMFS failure “to demonstrate that A113 complied with both National Standard 8 and National Standard 4...”

National Standard 8 requires councils to “take into account the importance of fishery resources to fishing communities by utilizing economic and social data ... in order to (A) provide for the sustained participation of such communities, and (B) to the extent practicable, minimize adverse economic impacts on such communities.

The opinion found that “The Service has, in effect, converted National Standard 8’s mandate that the Service “take into account” impacts on affected fishing communities when pursuing the MSA’s conservation objectives into a tool to affirmatively reallocate fishing privileges to benefit specific fishing communities. This is precisely what the Secretary has concluded National Standard 8 does not empower the Service to do.”

Regarding National Standard 4, which reads: “Conservation and management measures shall not discriminate between residents of different States. If it becomes necessary to allocate or assign fishing privileges among various United States fishermen, such allocation shall be (A) fair and equitable to all such fishermen; (B) reasonably calculated to promote conservation; and (C) carried out in such manner that no particular individual, corporation, or other entity acquires an excessive share of such privileges.” the court focused only (B), “...whether A113 was “reasonably calculated to promote conservation.””

Kelly disagreed with NMFS’ statement that National Standard 4’s requirement to “promote conservation” could be met simply by avoiding a possible threat to conservation.

“... if the Service decides to allocate fishing privileges to a specific group,” Kelly wrote, “that allocation must actually “promote” a conservation purpose—that is, advance or further it—rather than just avoid jeopardizing one.”

He continuted, “For that reason, Intervenors’ attempt to characterize A113 as a “trailing amendment” to prior conservation measures—in this case, the BSAI TAC split and a measure imposing protections for Stellar sea lions—cannot cure the amendment’s inconsistency with the standard.”

Kelly noted that “The Service’s conclusion that A113 is consistent with National Standard 4 because it made no changes to the various existing measures protecting fishery resources is simply not rational in light of the text of that standard and the facts in the record.

“For that reason as well, the Service’s decision to adopt A113 was arbitrary, capricious, and not in accordance with applicable law,” Kelly wrote.

The opinion concluded with an order to grant plaintiff’s motion and deny the defendents and intervenor’s cross-motions. “The Court will vacate the rule implementing A113 and remand A113 to the Service for reconsideration consistent with this opinion. A separate Order will issue,” the court concluded.

The North Pacific Council will meet next in early April, when this ruling will be addressed in the B-reports.

Peggy Parker
SeafoodNews.com
1-781-861-1441
peggyparker@urnerbarry.com
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