Just one board position is contested this year, the Open-Residency seat currently held by John Fairbanks. Larry Christensen is making a bid for that position.

As part of our longstanding election process, each candidate has been asked to respond to an identical questionnaire concerning their views. Here in their entirety are those questions and responses. These will also be mailed to all members, along with the election ballots.

Questionnaire: Larry Christensen

Why do you want to be a board member?

We need to continue to improve our collective opportunities that this fishery provides. The depth of my nearly 5 decades of experience in salmon harvesting, management, and marketing offers valuable insight. I have extensive experience serving on other boards along with various representative leadership positions, and I look forward with great expectations in answering this call to service. Over the years I have spoken with many of you, from Kipnuk to Monterey, and I heard you loud and clear, we don’t just want Bristol Bay to be better, we need it to be better.

What do you think is the most important mission for the BBRSDA? Why?

I think the most important mission for the BBRSDA is to responsibly increase the value of the fishery through marketing and quality advancements. A more valuable Bay fishery provides a better place to work and a better place to live.

In your view, what are the three priorities that the BBRSDA should focus on? Why?

In my opinion, the three priorities that the BBRSDA should focus on are: expanded marketing of Bristol Bay salmon, continuing to foster quality improvements in order to support consumer demand, and to motivate governing agencies to provide and protect this amazing resource that we depend upon through a healthy and orderly fishery.

The BBRSDA’s Strategic Plan lists specific strategies for maximizing the value of the Bristol Bay fishery. Do you believe those strategies are an effective guide for accomplishing that goal, and if not, how should they be modified?  

I believe that the current BBRSDA Strategic Plan is an effective guide for accomplishing our goal of maximizing the value of the Bristol Bay fishery. However, I would not necessarily confine it to the order as given. As issues arise and developments continue, priorities change.

Is there another issue that I would like to raise and respond to?

The final topic that I would like to address is one of transparency, responsiveness, and responsibility. I would greatly appreciate hearing from each and every one of you so that I may accurately represent your concerns and personal experiences. Whether you vote for me or not, I need to hear from you, and I need to have the ability to occasionally poll you as to our positioning on the issues. Please send a short email to bristolbaydrifter@gmail.com so that we may be connected. Together, we can make great strides. Thank you for voting.

Questionnaire: John Fairbanks

Why do you want to be a board member?

Like float planes, salmon are an iconic symbol of Alaska. Ask any Alaskan and chances are they’re involved, or know someone, in the fishing business. Whether it’s catching or consuming many of us are connected by salmon. It’s no wonder social conversations often drift toward the fishing business. People find it fascinating, and so do I. 2014 will be my 26th season in “the Bay”. I’ve seen its manic highs and depressing lows. Yet regardless of bearish forecasts or economic mood swings we always look to “next year” with renewed optimism. Our enthusiasm is contagious but we have our challenges. Fortunately I love challenges, problem solving and fishing Bristol Bay. The BBRSDA is the perfect organization for my kind of motivation. Working to improve our future is very important to me. This is why I serve on the BBRSDA and why I want to continue serving.

What do you think is the most important mission for the BBRSDA? Why?

Without question our most important mission is to ensure fiduciary responsibility of our member’s capital. By properly managing your funds the BB-RSDA can, with the assistance of key personnel and by following our strategic plan, maximize the value of our fishery to our members.

In your view, what are three priorities the BBRSDA should focus on? Why?

  • Habitat Protection: Bristol Bay is best served by industry focusing on renewable resources and sustainable harvesting. Protection of the watershed from habitat destruction is the most critical issue we face.
  • Improve Quality: We’ve made great progress but, we must continue to promote chilling and improve onboard fish handling practices. Domestic and global consumers have choices and the choice should be Bristol Bay salmon. We all benefit when you make the decision to chill and handle fish properly.
  • Marketing: Our goal is to improve demand for Bristol Bay salmon by emphasizing the nutritional benefits and promote our sustainable resource. Some “craft farm” operations market their product as sustainable and eco-friendly. We must differentiate Alaska salmon from these “niche” farm producers. Also, canned sockeye represents a huge consumer base. The majority of these customers are of the older generation. It’s critical that we effectively market canned salmon to younger consumers.

The BBRSDA’s Strategic Plan lists specific strategies for maximizing the value of the Bristol Bay fishery. Do you believe those strategies are an effective guide for accomplishing that goal, and if not, how should they be modified?

Yes. Here are three examples of how following our strategic plan is providing value to all members.

a) Thirteen years ago our ex vessel prices were at inflation adjusted lows. Our focus on quality & marketing, along with large investments in the processing sector, has allowed the entire industry to take advantage of the features and benefits of wild salmon. This is finally understood and appreciated by many consumers and ex vessel prices are reflecting that.

b) We help fund the Port Moller test fishing operation. Management and fishermen rely on this critical information for in season decisions making.

c) FRI funding provides much needed spawning habitat and base line data. This information is necessary to gain a better understanding of the science and economics of Bristol Bay and, will be critical when dealing with potential environmental impacts of non-fishing activities.

Is there another issue that you would like to raise and respond to?

Yes, I have two:

a. There has been a lot of discussion about a “buy back” We’ve heard loud and clear that members would like the RSDA to research the feasibility of permit consolidation. There are many options to accomplish this goal. We will investigate and present the results for you to review and discuss prior to taking any action.

b. We need Fish and Game to set up counting towers earlier, especially in Ugashik. This once “late fishery” is now trending toward historical timing typical of other east side systems. If Ugashik fishermen find it productive to start or transfer sooner, they’ll benefit as will fishermen in other districts.