The At-sea Processors Association (APA) is committed to sustainable management of marine resources and to making a difference in the Alaska and Pacific Northwest communities in which the women and men of our industry live and work.
Here is a look at a few of the initiatives APA member companies support.
APA member vessels participate in the Pollock Conservation Cooperative (PCC). The PCC received the 2006 Sustainability and Stewardship Award from NOAA, a federal science agency, in recognition of the cooperative’s environmental leadership.
Some APA members operate catcher/processors in the west coast Pacific whiting fishery, and they have formed the Pacific Whiting Conservation Cooperative (PWCC). Learn more about the PWCC at www.pacificwhiting.org.
Under a cooperative style of fishing, participants agree to limit their individual catches to a specific percentage of their sector’s fishing quota. By ending the race for fish, a co-op eliminates the incentive for harvesters to increase fishing capacity to maximize their share of the catch. APA members have successfully used co-ops to reduce excess fishing and processing capacity within their industry sector.
The slower pace of fishing in a co-op promotes "cleaner" fishing and enables at-sea processors to increase the output of fish products on a per pound basis by almost 50 percent, compared to yields achieved under the traditional "come one, come all" fishing style.
Fishery managers often reserve certain species of fish for harvest by fishermen using certain fishing gear types or for fishermen holding certain fishing permits. Fishery regulations are designed to create disincentives for fishermen to avoid the incidental harvest of non-target species.
Working with SeaState, a firm that uses real-time catch information collected by onboard federally-certified fishery observers, APA has designed and implemented a voluntary industry program that complements federal fishery management rules. APA members authorize SeaState to access proprietary information from federal observer reports and to notify fishery cooperative members to avoid areas where higher levels of incidental catches of non-target species are occurring.
APA member vessels each carry two fishery observers to monitor harvests and collect scientific data and information. The North Pacific observer program is funded by the fishing industry at an annual cost of approximately $13 million. Learn more about the comprehensive North Pacific groundfish observer program at www.afsc.noaa.gov.
American catcher/processors also carry and pay the costs of observer coverage in the Pacific whiting fishery, the only fishery outside of Alaska in which at-sea fish processing vessels participate.
APA members in 2000 formed a partnership with the University of Alaska/Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences to create the Pollock Conservation Cooperative Research Center (PCCRC) www.sfos.uaf.edu. APA member companies donate $1 million each year to the Research Center. The money is used to fund a wide range of research projects that enhance understanding of the Bering Sea ecosystem, including climate change and regime shifts, marine mammal studies, and the impacts of commercial fishing on the marine environment.
APA also supports the North Pacific Universities Marine Mammal Research Consortium. The mission of the Consortium is to undertake a long-term research program on the relationship between fisheries and marine mammals in the North Pacific and the Eastern Bering Sea. www.marinemammal.org
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), which was founded in 1995 by the World Wildlife Fund, identifies the best environmental choice in seafood for consumers www.msc.org. APA applied to have the Alaska pollock fishery undergo a rigorous third-party, scientific assessment, and in 2005, the fishery was certified as meeting the MSC’s environmental standard for a well-managed and sustainable fishery. The fishery is audited annually to ensure continued compliance with the MSC standard. Alaska pollock completed the five year verification process in 2010. Today, many Alaska pollock products carry the MSC eco-label.
APA members donate more than one million seafood meals each year to hungry Americans through its Community Catch program. The Community Catch initiative expands a long-standing commitment by APA companies to provide this important protein source to local and national food bank programs. APA operates its seafood donation program in partnership with Sea Share and Feeding America.
Perhaps the most recognized link between the Alaska pollock catcher/processor sector and Alaska is the substantial ownership interest in the fleet by five of the six groups that comprise the Community Development Quota (CDQ) program. Most of the 65 western Alaska communities participating in the CDQ program hold millions of dollars worth of investments in the APA fleet. Learn more about the CDQ program at www.commerce.state.ak.us
In addition, each year the APA catcher/processor fleet generates millions of dollars in the Alaska economy. Dutch Harbor/Unalaska is one of the principal beneficiaries of the fleet’s economic contributions to the State with dozens of businesses engaged in the support sector. Also, the State of Alaska and communities receive millions of dollars in sales and landing taxes.
For a more complete look at APA’s Alaska partnerships, including job and employment training opportunities and support for marine research, click here.