The office, located on 202 Center Avenue, has two small rooms, and more than 40 people crowded into it to hear Begich officially open the office and make a short speech.
Begich mentioned veteran’s affairs, the re-authorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and education as important issues he’s currently working on in his speech
Earlier in the day, Begich spoke in an interview about the drug problem in Kodiak, the Coast Guard, fishing and how the race is going so far.
With the Coast Guard, Begich said there’s a lot of traffic in the Bering Strait and demand in the Arctic for equipment.
“As the Arctic opens up, we need more equipment, so through the two bills, the one bill we passed and now we’re in the second phase of re-authorization, we’re adding other elements for more equipment and resources for building up the Arctic, which again affects Kodiak directly,” Begich said. “As we build more equipment into the equation, that means we can station more equipment, in guess where? Kodiak and other ports.”
Regarding fisheries, Begich said some changes in the bill important to Kodiak include electronic monitoring of boats, sustainability and subsistence fisheries.
“The way (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) wants to do it, they want to put people on every single vessel and that’s just practically impossible especially small vessels,” Begich said. “That will be some technology that we’ve ingrained into the legislation to really accelerate this use of electronic monitoring,”
Begich said it’s important that defining sustainability goes into the Magnuson-Stevens Act to help avoid issues like the one last year where Walmart said it would stop selling Alaska salmon because it didn’t have a certain sustainable label, and then reversed their decision after backlash.
“When NOAA recognizes you as sustainable, then from a commercial sell point, that is sustainable,” Begich said. “That will make a big difference for the region here and across Alaska.”
Begich said the original Magnuson-Stevens Act hardly mentioned subsistence.
“We’re trying to integrate that to a certain extent, recognizing it’s not a bill about subsistence, it’s about fisheries management,” Begich said. “Managing commercial fishing is different than managing subsistence fishing but they’re all connected and so you have to manage it in a way that’s holistic, but recognizing some differences.”
Regarding drugs, Begich said that he’s hopeful for programs where the U.S. Marshall and U.S. Attorney partner with communities to combat drugs, and said the program the City of Kodiak has begun to implement with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in creating a drug task force is a good first step.
“Those are going to have long-term impacts,” Begich said. “Obviously, we’d be happy to work with the borough on anything we can do to make sure the FBI, the U.S. Marshall’s office and others are partners with that.”
As far as the race goes, Begich said it’s going well, but he expects it’ll be a close election in November.
“When I think about this election, it’s going to be down to who is focused on Alaska issues and I hope to continue to talk about what I’ve done,” Begich said. “I’m feeling good about it, it’s going to be a tough election.”
Contact Julie Herrmann at email@example.com.