- Associated Press - Thursday, July 28, 2016

KENAI, Alaska (AP) - Alaska’s largest commercial fishing trade organization has launched an effort to learn more about habitat conditions across the state and ways to keep its members engaged.

Lindsey Bloom, program manager for United Fishermen of Alaska, said the group is using a survey to gain information from fishermen about habitat conditions in their areas and how they engage with the organization. The Salmon Habitat Information Project started Tuesday and wraps up on Sept. 5, The Peninsula Clarion reported (https://bit.ly/2axXVtX).

“We’re launching with the survey because we want to get a better idea of what fishermen really care about, where their strongest interests lie, and how they want to be engaged, and how do they want to be contacted,” Bloom said.

One question on the survey asks fishermen to describe the salmon habitat in their local environments and another asks them to say how they feel about Alaska’s management of salmon populations. Survey takers also are asked how they want to stay updated with UFA, whether by phone, email or text.

The UFA regularly provides input on development projects that would take place in or have an impact on salmon habitat around the state, such as the Pebble Mine project near Bristol Bay or the Department of Natural Resources’ water management policies.

Bloom said the survey provides an opportunity for planners to better track those impacts and gather information for possible action.

“We want to bridge that hurdle,” Bloom said. “My hunch is that if fishermen are as aware and informed as they want to be and can be on what’s going on with habitat in their fisheries, they’ll be engaged as well.”

The survey is open to commercial fishermen and their families. The UFA is offering prizes for survey takers, including a $500 Alaska Airlines voucher.


Information from: (Kenai, Alaska) Peninsula Clarion, https://www.peninsulaclarion.com

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