Upon completing a detailed appraisal of the stewardship of Alaska Fisheries, there is plenty of praise to be given and hardly any room for criticism, especially that which is not constructive. This is because, when drawing a balance, the state of Alaska has done more than any other state government to guarantee the health and resilience of its marine fisheries and to protect their natural habitat, and is in fact the international leader on the subject. Though many other regional, national, or foreign fishing industries do their best to mimic some of the control mechanisms put in place in Alaska, no other place has the proven track record of success in fostering sustainability and maintaining strong seafood species population levels.
Though the cultural notions of conservation and sustainability stretch far back into the local history of the communities living along the Alaskan shoreline, the effective stewardship of Alaska Fisheries was enshrined in the state Constitution of 1959, which devoted an entire section to deal with the topic of natural resource management with a focus on native fisheries. In fact, there is no other state constitution in the country that deals with the matter as comprehensively or that dedicates such a prominent space to set forth objectives. But the conservation priorities aren’t simply jotted down on paper and then ignored-they are firmly grounded in practice thanks to a variety of enforcement offices with sufficient personnel that patrol the coastal waters in search of infractors.
Thanks to the state’s willingness to coordinate with federal regulators and international advisory bodies, there is real strength granted to the agents responsible for the stewardship of Alaska Fisheries. On the one hand, there is a large group of expert scientists that are given tangible authority to close the fishing season as they see fit or to restrict operations in a given area or in relation to a certain species. Additionally, to help protect other species living in the same habitats, whenever a predetermined amount of a prohibited bycatch species is caught (and detected by regulators) the fishing season for that entire fishery can be closed immediately. The effect this has is to strongly motivate commercial crews to practice ecologically sound fishing techniques, and judging by the results, it would appear that they have taken to the idea.
Alaska is home to an abundant variety of seafood, and offers some of the purest marine, freshwater, and upland habitats on the planet.