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Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers Hail Ted Stevens as Industry Advocate

(Anchorage) Bering Sea crab fishermen mourn the passing of Ted Stevens, a lifelong advocate for Alaska’s crab industry. For decades, Stevens championed the need for good science and conservative management of the Bering Sea crab stocks.

The crabbers credit Ted Stevens for the many years of almost single-handedly pushing funding dollars through Congress for scientific research and crab stock assessments in the Bering Sea.

“He always put protection of the resource first. Senator Stevens was really fierce about that,” said Edward Poulsen, a spokesman for Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, a harvester alliance.

Ted Stevens also was fierce about making the fisheries safer, said Arni Thomson, longtime director of the Alaska Crab Coalition.  Stevens fought for years to change the Bering Sea fisheries from a frenzied free for all to a slower paced, safer catch share system that began in 2005.

“We lost 85 crabbers between 1989 and 2005, an average of 5.3 men per year. Since then, there has been only one fatality,” Thomson said.  “Because of him 25 lives have been saved so far in five years. That’s what Ted Stevens did for the Bering Sea crab fleet.”

Ted Stevens had a hands-on understanding of Alaska’s crab fisheries. In the 1980s, Stevens invested in a highliner crab vessel, the F/V Lady Ann, and for many years his son skippered Bering Sea crab boats.

“He knew the trials of owning a big crab boat and the realities of crab fishing, including how dangerous it was,” said Jim Stone, a 32 year industry veteran. “Perhaps that is why we received so much help and understanding from him. For awhile, he was one of us. ”

The Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers wish to thank Ted Stevens a final time for his leadership in passing the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands crab program which continues to protect the resources and saves so many lives.

Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers is a harvester alliance that represents all crab fisheries of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. The group is active in research, marketing and crab advocacy at all policy levels. The Crabbers partner with Alaska seafood processors and coastal communities to improve the industry for the benefit of all. www.alaskaberingseacrabbers.org

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