Alaska’s fishing industry is a critical part of our state’s economy, sustaining tens of thousands of jobs that make our state’s fisheries some of the greatest in the world. Responsible management of our fisheries is critical if we want to make sure our fish stocks are available for decades to come. When it comes to protecting fish in Alaska, we need to invest where it will be most helpful and think long-term about every aspect of the industry and the resource. This means understanding and protecting the needs of commercial fishing, sport fishing, and subsistence rights. Long-term sustainability of our fisheries is achievable with good management and the ability to make decisions based on sound science and accurate data. Additionally, we need to protect our coastal fishing communities and the waters that sustain both people and fish.
Oppose Pebble Mine
I have been firm in my view that Pebble is the wrong mine in the wrong place. I believe the Bristol Bay Watershed is too important to the economy of our state to risk on an open pit mine. Through years of research, engagement with local communities, and modeling of the project, we know there is no way a mine in Bristol Bay can coexist with one of the world’s most productive fishery. That is why, as Governor, I would end the permitting process with the State and tell the Army Corps of Engineers that I will not allow any use of state lands, right-of-ways, or access for any of their operations – finally putting an end to the Pebble project.
Commercial fishing for salmon, halibut, groundfish, crab, and more is a major part of Alaska’s economy. Subsistence, sport, and personal use fisheries also contribute heavily to our Alaska lifestyle, travel & tourism, Alaska Native culture and our reputation as a state. Resource decisions impact us in both the near and long-term and must be handled with great care.
Our fishing industry has come a long way since the days when cannery bosses ran the show with little or no benefit to fishing families or local coastal economies. Most of all, the professions of fishing, processing, and producing seafood products needs support from the governor’s office, agency leaders, the legislature, and others throughout the state. As governor, I will engage in constructive policies that strengthen Alaska’s reputation as a leader in the seafood industry. I will support those currently in the business of fish and support younger Alaskans learning these critical skills so our coastal communities continue to thrive under the next generation.
Commissioner of Fish & Game
There is a lot at stake when it comes to Alaska fisheries and hunting grounds. Its sustainable food, culture, travel and tourism, environment, ecology, and economy. As governor, I understand the importance of reaching out to fishermen, processors, personal use and subsistence harvesters and game users across the state to find the most qualified person for Commissioner of Fish and Game (ADF&G). We are not all going to agree on everything but we can work harder and listen to each other. I know how to do that. Alaska needs an individual committed to getting the tough questions answered and who can return ADF&G to a place where world-class fisheries biologists want to work. We have the best-managed fisheries in the world, and that all starts with ADF&G management.
Appoint a Senior Cabinet-Level Fisheries Advisor
Like any valuable resource, Alaska fisheries are complex and policy decisions are often difficult, but they have a measurable impact on our fishing communities, industry and all user groups. As governor, I will install a person in a cabinet-level position who will make fisheries their number one priority. This includes working with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, the Board of Fish, North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, National Marine Fisheries Service, Pacific Salmon Commission, International Pacific Halibut Commission, North Pacific Research Board, North Pacific Anadromous Fisheries Commission and every other group that deals with fish. I will make listening to commercial fishing, sport fishing, and substance users – and especially fishermen and fishing communities – their number one task. The Governor must have someone close who interacts with the fishing industry every day and brings timely information to the administration.
Defend Funding for State Agencies in Support of Alaska Fisheries
Good fisheries management decisions require using the best science available. I support research, management oversight, and data collection. With changes in climate, we have seen drastic shifts in fish returns that raise questions that need to be answered. We must deal with this reality and designate needed state resources to agencies such as the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, the University of Alaska’s Sea Grant Program the Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission, and others.
Invest in Seafood Promotion and Development
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) is a model for public-private investment and the State of Alaska must make it a funding priority. I believe in the power of creative marketing to advance an industry at all levels. ASMI has demonstrated the ability to work with domestic and international seafood customers as well as constantly work to ensure consumers know Alaska seafood products are high quality. This does not happen by accident and aggressive worldwide marketing is key. As governor I will work to enhance the reputation and boost the consumption of Alaska seafood.
Add More Fairness in Fisheries Representation
Having lived in Alaska all my life and served in public office, I know the difficulties that arise when it comes to allocating and making management decision on a delicate resource like fish. No governor has all the answers, but those in leadership must listen to people, including Alaska’s indigenous leaders, who are active in the industry and do what is best for the resource. Major fishing regions need representation on the Board of Fish and organizations representing commercial fishers need to be included in the discussion when considering appointments. My administration will pay close attention to the Board of Fish process and work to strengthen Alaska’s fisheries management bodies. Indigenous voices should also be represented on various advisory and regulatory bodies.
Expand Partners in the Fishing Industry
Young Alaskans need help to succeed in Alaska’s fishing industry. This means stronger programs in fisheries education and financial support to enter and stay in the business. New and increased opportunity is a key component in a set of plans for these beginning fishermen and for existing fishermen as they all struggle with big changes in the market, the environment and our culture. As Governor I will bring together unique partners such as fishers and tech companies to create greater value for the industry that may also be made safer and more efficient. We will work with the Division of Economic Development to enhance and strengthen the self-sustaining commercial fishing revolving loan program. My administration will work to find ways to reduce Alaska transportation costs, one of the main cost drivers impacting processors and ex-vessel price. Commercial fisheries need to be represented on the University of Alaska Board of Regents, Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, and other educational and business entities. Alaska also needs access to critical support services such as machinists, welders, electricians, and refrigeration techs. And we need to utilize our public education institutions to help grow the next generation of the fishing industry in Alaska.
Sport fishing is a part of Alaska culture and a key economic driver for travel and tourism. With more coastline than the entire Lower 48 combined, we need to ensure that the needs of sport and personal use fisheries are included as part of any comprehensive plan. That includes data-driven policies that maintain and protect these fisheries so that Alaskans can continue to enjoy our world-class fishing for generations to come.
The traditional and customary way of life, practiced for thousands of years, must be sustained for the nutritional, economic, and cultural well-being of Alaska Natives and rural Alaskans. That is why I am a strong supporter of subsistence rights for Alaska Native people and have built a record of fighting hard to preserve these rights. As Alaskans, we must recognize and respect traditional knowledge of Alaska Native People who have fished Alaska waters forever. A resource like fish must be respected for its cultural value too and we would be wise to gather historical data from the regions as well as scientific data so past mistakes are not repeated.
As Governor, I will continue these efforts and ensure that my administration understands, values, and protects these rights. That also means ensuring the state does not participate in any activity that could jeopardize subsistence rights like the State’s recent support of the Sturgeon case which could have devastating impacts on our rural communities and subsistence rights.