Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Congratulations to Maine fishermen

The Maine fishing industry finally won their tax fight with the developers and vacation home people. They won big. Now they can afford to keep that valuable fisheries infrastructure that is such an integral part of a vibrant industry; the docks and other waterfront property. Would that other states pass a constitutional amendment to tax waterfront property based on historic use as well.

When I was the Fisheries Infrastructure Development Specialist for the State of Alaska, it would have been handy to have had a free rein to look at issues like this. Then maybe they wouldn't have taken such exception to my idea of a seafood development association.

Picture of the old Ship Creek cannery in Anchorage. We put up 80,000 cases here one summer. Last I heard there was a tourist/office complex slated for the place.

If Alaska had such a law we might not have people like the rich German industrialists that have a lodge and private dock on the Petersburg waterfront. There are any number of fishermen and fisheries business people that would give their eye teeth for that property. These private acquisitions come about real quietly, I guarantee.

When Coastal Zone Management Planning by communities was big in the early '80s, I got to be the chairman of the waterfront committee in Petersburg. One person started to come to the meetings and then wanted to be the secretary. I could tell he wasn't writing down anything, so I had to tell him to "write that down" on occasion. Then the next thing you know, that man acquires a piece of beach property and builds a house on the lower side of the beach road, quite contrary to the desires of everyone in town.

I still think the Alaska Municipal League could be instrumental in helping retain the model of the successful fishing port in the coastal communities in Alaska. And there IS a model. It has evolved over the millenia and doesn't include putting fish processing up in the muskeg or the tundra because it can't get a place on the waterfront.


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