Tuesday, September 13, 2005

"In Praise of the Lowly Pink Salmon"

The Tyee strikes again, and again. Alaskan fishermen should pay more attention to what is going on in the British Columbia fisheries. Civilization is marching up the road through B.C. and Alaska is next. And the Canadians have found ways to deal with it. Things that Alaskans will have to do someday. Unless being stalked by the bear instead of stalking it is OK.

What struck me about this article, besides it's focus on quality fish, was the disappearance of almost all of the original 31 species of fish caught in lower Georgia Straits except the migratory salmon. And now the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is saying that Southeast Alaska rockfish just lives too long and are declining in some places. Well, if many of the big ones were born in the 1800s, I can see why.

And the commercial halibut longliners are saying, actually they've been saying this for years, that the charter fleet is catching too many halibut. It's getting pretty scratchy fishing now around Sitka and Homer, home to big charter boat fleets. The charter boats caught something like 9 million pounds of halibut in 2004. Depending on who you listen to, some people say that left unchecked, the charter boat fleet could take the entire quota eventually.

But I like going to "The Tyee" on-line forum occasionally to see what the Canadians are doing. The last time, I saw an article on a book written by a refugee of fisheries politics. A lot of parallels to the Alaska seafood industry. There won't be such a book written by an Alaskan for some time because the interest just isn't there for making any money from a book like that about the Alaska fisheries. His book was on the best seller list in Canada though.

Alaskans are still into reading tales of adventure on the fishing grounds, and if they go broke, well, it was the Chileans fault, or the Fish and Game's fault, or Chevron's fault. There is no required reading on the part of state and local economic development folks in Alaska, very few are reading this blog too. I would double my readership if folks that were responsible for making things work read it. There's probably hundreds of them in Alaska. The Americans are funny this way, the worse things get, the more they pay for public "development specialists."

Even the Executive Director of a fishermen's organization is a "public" figure. But this isn't the model that works for everyone in the "Lower 48." It's the free enterprise model, that of an "association," that works. Then you can have someone be accountable for progress.

Associations need help at times, but only from the top tiers of government, to give them a level playing field. These are going to be the ones that are motivated to stop what happened in British Columbia from happening in Alaska.

The Tyee article has some good information on the shelf life of salmon, and efforts to publicize the lowly pink salmon.


Blogger Kevin said...

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5:29 PM  

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