I’m surprised to see that hardworking fisherman of Alaska’s Commercial Fisheries are so easily forgotten. With Alaska’s crab fisherman leading the pack on Discovery Channel, its appears that the crew are slowly getting a voice. No one seemed to mention the affects of the crab rationalization on the crew members, whose years of hard service were rewarded with less pay and longer seasons. As to how they will implement this would be interesting. Perhaps a financial incentive would be the best idea.
Crew labor data; Cod goes green; Credit where it’s due
By LAINE WELCH
January 12, 2010
The project that aims to collect labor data on Alaska deckhands is on track to come before the legislature this session.
As self-employed workers, roughly 20,000 crewmembers have fallen through the cracks in terms of basic data that show their economic importance to the industry.
“You can’t really estimate the total economic impact of commercial fishing unless you know something about the earnings and employment patterns for the crew members who are such an important part of the work force, and we don’t have any of that information,” said Geron Bruce, assistant director of the state commercial fisheries division.
“The people who work as crew members on fishing boats are probably one of the only groups of laborers in Alaska that are not counted in some way by the state,” said Jan Conitz, project director for ADF&G.
Bruce and Conitz are among a multi-agency and industry team that have worked for more than a year to develop a labor data collection program for deckhands in every Alaska fishery. A private contractor, Wostmann & Associates of Juneau, completed a feasibility report on three data collection options last month.
“There are three separate documents outlining all that needs to be done with systems to make data reporting possible under three different options selected by our advisory committees last spring,” Conitz said. “They compared the options and looked at the feasibility and cost of each one, with recommendations about how we might go forward in developing the system.”
Crew data could be collected by modifying existing e-landing reports or fish tickets. Conitz said actual implementation will be more difficult than anticipated.
“This project is unique because it has to work with a number of existing systems and not overturn or rock the boat with any of them. It has to fit in and that’s where some of the difficulties rise,” she explained. “Our contractor has said many times that ‘one size does not fit all’ because there is so much diversity in Alaska’s fisheries.”
Conitz said the contractor also has identified a number of changes and modifications that will help with other fisheries data collection, and make it possible for systems to work together and more efficiently than they do now.
The stakeholder and agency advisors will meet this week to select a preferred option that will be presented to Alaska lawmakers. The governor’s draft budget includes $250,000 for the data collection project.
The program must be authorized by the legislature. The agency and stakeholder advisory committees will meet this week to finalize their recommendations to Alaska lawmakers.
“I wouldn’t say whether a crew data collection will be developed,” Conitz said, “just when.”