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NOAA Fisheries unveils new strategic plan for Alaska

Set-netters pick a sockeye out of the net this June.
Sabine Poux
Set-netters pick a sockeye out of the net this June.

A new five-year plan from the NOAA Fisheries Alaska Regional Office lays out institutional values and goals for Alaska fisheries and for working with their many stakeholders.

The plan was published in early September. In an opening letter, Regional Administrator Jon Kurland reminds readers that Alaska fisheries produce more than half of the seafood caught in U.S. waters and contribute more than $7 billion to the national economy. The plan is meant to guide sustainable management of those critical fisheries.

“I’ve been working for NOAA fisheries for almost 15 years, and you see a lot of strategic plans. And the thing that struck me that was different about this process was that, first and foremost, it was built around our shared values,” Alicia Bishop, aquaculture coordinator for the Alaska Regional Office, said.

Bishop is one of two staff members who worked on developing the strategic plan and running review meetings. She said one major difference between this plan and traditional strategic plans is the way it centers values rather than functions.

“We started this effort in May of 2021, and as part of taking a new approach here, we hired a consultant who really helped guide and frame this strategic plan,” she said.

The organization reached out to 22 external agencies to garner their feedback and interviewed every internal staff member.

Bishop said some of those external stakeholders include the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. She said many of the objectives ultimately included in the plan were influenced by these interviews.

“You will see a lot of those components bubbling up in that strategic plan specifically based off of the feedback that we received from stakeholders,” she said.

One objective is improving the relationship with the state of Alaska, and another targets co-management effectiveness with Alaska Native Tribes, another major stakeholder.

The plan is organized into 22 strategies and subdivided into five categories, which include Clients & Desired Outcomes, Products & Services, Internal Processes, People and Financial Resources. Some specific goals include “Ensure Effectiveness of Conservation and Recovery Efforts” and “Improve Stakeholder Relationships through Enhanced Clarity and Understanding.”

Riley Board is a Report For America corps member covering rural communities on the central Kenai Peninsula for KDLL. A recent graduate of Middlebury College, where she studied linguistics, English literature and German, Board was editor-in-chief of The Middlebury Campus, the student newspaper, and completed work as a Kellogg Fellow, doing independent linguistics research. She has interned at the Burlington Free Press, covering the early days of the pandemic’s effects on Vermont communities, and at Smithsonian Institution’s Folklife, where she wrote about culture and folklife in Washington, D.C. and beyond. Board hails from Sarasota, Florida.
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