Thursday, November 24, 2005

Seafood gift packs, more on "rationalization"

A Canadian company that sells seafood gift packs has seen a lot of challenges. Take for example loosing a customer that represented 25% of it's sales, and the airport retailers who asked them to cut their prices 30%. Can mom and pop operations weather these kinds of storms? Read the article from a West Coast Canadian web site.

When you fly around in the Alaskan "bush" a lot, you'll eventually fly over one of the 59 active volcanoes.

The crux of the matter, in selling seafood gift boxes, is that there has been a shift away from giving a bottle of whiskey to a business client or associate at Christmas, or anytime. It's a kinder, more gentle business world, where women have become more entrenched at all levels. Remember, the bulk of the herring roe pack goes into little gift boxes for giving to business associates around the New Year. When there are Alaskan packed herring roe gift boxes on the department store shelves in Tokyo, then the Alaska seafood industry will have grown up.

Speaking of Canadians, I talked to a British Columbia author at the Fish Expo in Seattle last week who used to work in fish politics. He was touting his book, "Salmon Wars," that he spent four years writing, without any support. There is no glory in writing something like that because the folks that have the money to get the story out generally don't want the story getting out. Dennis Brown knows the inner workings of B.C. fish politics and has some dire warnings regarding individual fishing quotas, etc. B.C. fisheries have always been a bell-weather for the fisheries in Alaska.

Dennis really wanted me to read the book, and I will when I can resolve how I'm going to continue offering this service. There are two issues here. One, is that sometimes we get compelled to write this stuff, no matter the consequences to ourselves. And two, giving back, unconditionally, is about the bravest thing you can do. The trick is to do it unconditionally. A lot of government service and charity work is giving back to society, but when charity CEOs are making in the upper six figures, then it sure as heck isn't unconditional.

Maybe our elected leaders, policy-makers, law-and-order types and the sort, should be measured by the top bar. After all, they raise the bar on us all the time. The thing is, the politically powerless have a way of suddenly speaking up and throwing the rascals out and saving the good ones. After all, it's "government by the people, for the people and of the people." "Of the people," in my dictionary, means "containing," "belonging to," "having as an important quality," and "relating to."

I think what is being called rationalization is just a test of how far special interests can get, by using government as a tool in their toolbox. If you took out processor quota shares from rationalization, what would you have then? Maybe just good fisheries management. Fisheries management has no business, in the context of the Constitution as I understand it, telling businesses who they have to do business with. We have warmed up in the proverbial frog-in-the-kettle analogy by going along with limited entry permits for fishing, and individual fishing quotas for fishermen. I reckon we'll be pretty well cooked when the temperature gets up to blocking any more competition in processing.

This kind of thing might be what will get fishermen to join large regional associations; just to protect themselves. And that some fishermen have always had a larger vision and have vertically integrated into processing. Taking this away in "rationalization" would take away a very viable option for the regional development associations. There is little else these regionals have to offer at the starting gate. Is it just a coincidence that these attacks on the harvesting sector are starting to mount just when fishermen are given the opportunity to finally gain their footing in the industry?

Anyway, Dennis' book can be had from Captain's Nautical Supplies in Seattle. This is a cool site to bookmark anyway, especially for reference before Christmas. You men might want to hint to your wives that this site has "the good stuff."


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