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Economics & Social Sciences Research Program

Improving Community Profiles for the North Pacific Fisheries

As in other public policy arenas, incorporating community voices into the fisheries management process in Alaska is difficult. Alaska contains difficult terrain that makes travel around the state difficult and expensive. Subsistence fishing and hunting and involvement in commercial fishing activities often take precedence over attending fisheries management meetings. Although state and federal fisheries managers are required to obtain public input on fishing regulations, Alaskan communities have conveyed a sense of disenfranchisement from the decision-making process that ultimately affects their participation in commercial, sport, or subsistence fishing. In order to provide baseline information about a large number of Alaskan fishing communities to fisheries managers, the ESSR program compiled existing information about, and published community profiles for 136 Alaskan fishing communities with baseline information from the year 2000.

Now that these data are over 10 years old, the ESSR program is in the process of updating the community profiles. As a first step, the communities to be included in the updated document were reevaluated to ensure that communities with significant reliance on commercial, recreational, and subsistence fishing are included. This resulted in a total of 195 communities that will be profiled, including the original 136 communities profiled in the 2005 Community Profiles for North Pacific Fisheries – Alaska (Community Profiles; Sepez et al. 2005) and an additional 59 communities that were not previously included. Second, through input from community representatives from around the state, we have developed a new template for the profiles and will be adding a significant amount of new information to help provide a better understanding of each community's reliance on fishing. The community profiles will comprise additional information including, but not limited to, annual population fluctuation, fisheries-related infrastructure, community finances, natural resources, educational opportunities, fisheries revenue, shore-based processing plant narratives, landings and permits by species, and subsistence and recreational fishing participation. In addition, the profiles will provide information about the Western Alaska Community Development Program and regional profiles. A team of researchers will be assembled in late 2011 to start the process of revising the profiles. A draft of each community's profile will be sent to representatives of that community for input before they are finalized. Once finalized, the profiles will be posted on the AFSC website.

By Amber Himes-Cornell

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