Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Exporting, "revitalization" and flooding.

"The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development reflects the complexities involved, estimating that an average international transaction involves 27 to 30 different parties, 40 documents, and 200 data elements." This gives an idea of how complicated it is to export seafood products.It is only the largest seafood processors and brokers that can accomplish this feat.

It also is a risky proposition in terms of relying on a foreign market for a significant portion of sales. When I was banking, we had one processor that had to sell to Great Britain because they were a new kid on the block and couldn't get U.S. markets. In the time period between pack financing and paying fishermen, to the middle of the winter, the exchange rate fluxuated just enough to warn off the bank. The upshot was that the bank lost their confidence in their marketing strategy, which was the only one they could develop, and declined to offer pack financing for the coming year.

That was the end of that cannery. A lot of the problem is that canned salmon is a commodity, not a value added product like consumers demand these days. This has to change for any degree of security to return to the Alaska seafood industry, which includes the banks, suppliers, shops, repair facilities, etc. The whole infrastructure of the industry. This infrastructure should be quantified soon, to determine the potential benefits of revitalization, and the possible damage to the Alaska economy from failure.

I think that the State government in Alaska would be more determined to see their efforts at revitalization succeed if they knew what was at stake. Up to now, fleets like the hand trollers have gone quietly into the night, without any spotlight being shed on the phenomenon. There is a phenomenon going on right now under the noses of those that could do something about it. I just hope "Revitalization" doesn't stall out.

And finally, pray that all those people in the deep south that have been displaced will be safe.


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