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The David and Goliath story playing out in Alaska's fisheries by Stephen Robert Miller September 25,2020   |  Source: HuffPost US

One day in April 1991, a large fishing boat sliced through the cobalt waters of the North Pacific, not far from Sitka, Alaska, on its way to the Bering Sea. For some reason, perhaps to make sure its gear was in order, the boat dropped its weighted trawling net, dragging it across the ocean floor. As the boat drifted by, thousands of pounds of rockfish got scooped up in the mesh. Just like that, the local rockfish season was over.

“Outraged.” That is how Linda Behnken, a Sitka-based fisherman and director of the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, described her reaction to news of the trawler’s nets rising from the ocean full of strangled or struggling fish, leaving the area’s fishing territory depleted. “It was a major catalyzing event.”

Facing the loss of a resource that had supported generations of fishing families, Behnken and the local community set out to protect the pristine waters of Southeast Alaska from the ravages of industrial fishing and banish trawling boats that drag wide nets to indiscriminately collect fish. A David to industrial fishing’s Goliath, Behnken was told to give up, that the cards were stacked against her. It took years of lobbying and rallying local support, but with the passage of the Southeast Alaska Trawl Closure in 1998,


© 2020 HuffPost.com, Inc.

Theme(s): Fisheries Development and Aquaculture.

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