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Uncertainties Lie Ahead for Alaskan Fisheries

Economics +1 more

ALASKA - Shifting economic and political winds have the Alaska seafood industry sailing through uncharted waters toward 2009. There are uncertainties over markets, credit restrictions and how the Obama administration will act concerning fisheries issues.

“There is little room for error in today's economy,” said Robin Samuelsen, a veteran Bristol Bay salmon fisherman and executive director of the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corp. in Dillingham.

Alaska Journal of Commerce reports his comments, “Hopefully these (federal) economic stimulus packages will turn things around,” he said. “And hopefully the price of fuel will stay down to $40 a barrel.”

Mr Samuelsen said he also hopes the Obama administration will take a serious look at reinstating the moratorium on exploration and drilling for oil in Bristol Bay. “There is no more productive ecosystem in the world than the Bristol Bay basin; we've got everything here and tons of marine mammals,” said Samuelsen, who said the nation needs, to the greatest extent possible, to wean itself off of fossil fuels.

“The bottom line is that there is a lot of uncertainty about what the effects of the economic crisis may be,” said Gunnar Knapp, an economics professor with the Institute of Social and Economic Research at the University of Alaska Anchorage. “It may affect the Alaska seafood industry in a variety of ways, and the effects could vary for different species and regions, depending in particular on their markets,” Mr Samuelsen said.