By Zeke Brown, F/V Viking Maid & F/V Cape Fear
For The Cordova Times
As commercial fishermen there are many things outside of our control; weather conditions, the natural cycles of wild stocks or occasionally getting corked. The political economy of fishing and fishing rights however is one arena in which we can make our voices be heard.
That is why I have been a member of Cordova District Fishermen United since I first bought into gillnetting seven years ago. CDFU has been advocating for commercial fishing rights and the individuals in Cordova’s community for over 80 years.
This past year I joined CDFU’s board of directors in order to become more involved and, after testifying at Board of Fish in December, I feel as though a strong advocacy group for fishermen is more relevant and necessary than ever before.
Cordovans are all familiar with the economic importance of the commercial fishing industry to our town and our state as a whole. The industry is Alaska’s largest private sector employer. Our fleet harvests millions of meals for the nation every year.
CDFU ensures part of this harvest gets back to our community as well through the Fish to Schools program and Senior Salmon Day. We all benefit from a strong commercial fleet in Cordova – individuals and businesses alike.
The political advocacy work done by CDFU strives to preserve and promote commercial fishing in Area E as well as support conservation management. We know that the oceans and the economic systems that surround them are changing and we must be involved in the process to be resilient to this change. This is our livelihood and we must have a say in its future.
For younger fishermen especially, now is the time to get involved in your local advocacy group.
Over this past winter we’ve seen an alarmingly organized and directed campaign against commercial fishermen. Most recently this has taken the form of an emergency petition to lower hatchery production in Prince William Sound.
The commercial fishermen of Area E cannot afford to sit idly by while these decisions about our livelihood are made for us at the state level. I invite you to join us for our annual spring picnic May 26 or stop by our table at any of the spring processor lunches.
We are only as strong as our members. I encourage any permit holder, captain or crewman who is invested in Area E fisheries to become a member this season. CDFU is now also excited to offer local businesses the opportunity to become members as well, so before you buy that expensive part for your boat check for that CDFU sticker in the window!
As the fisheries of Cordova have continued to change, one thing has remained steadfast – our commitment as a fishing community to the future. Stop in the CDFU office, visit our website at CDFU.org, or buy a board member a beer to learn more about how becoming a member serves not only you as an individual, but your business and our community as well.