Unalaska fisherman objects to female fishery observers

KLAS STOLPE / AP archive

Fishery observers will be joining Alaska's small-boat halibut fleet next year, and Unalaska fisherman Dustan Dickerson is among those worried about what it's going to cost them.

From The Dutch Harbor Fisherman:

"It's going be a lot more expensive," said Dickerson, owner of the fishing vessel Raven Bay. He said that even when the weather's too rough for fishing, the observers continue receiving pay, while deckhands don't. And putting a fifth person on the boat drives up food and insurance costs by 25 percent, he said.

But something else is bugging Dickerson -- and his wife -- about the observer program: Observers may be women, and they'll be working and living in close quarters with all-male crews, reports The Fisherman.

"Some people just don't like women on the boat. It's a distraction," said Dickerson. "I don't want to be working in close quarters with somebody else's wife," he said at an Aug. 18 meeting in Unalaska with International Pacific Halibut Commission executive director Bruce Leaman.

Dickerson's wife, Ebbe, added that the presence of woman might create conflict among crew members.

Leaman reminded those at the meeting that gender discrimination is illegal. He also said the observers might eventually be replaced with video cameras.

Read more about the rationale for the observer program at The Fisherman: Observers to join small-boat halibut fleet in 2013