Saturday, December 24, 2005

Ok, it's hit the fan now.

When I was at the Pacific Marine Expo. in Seattle this fall, a fisherman came up to me and said I should get Victor Smith's editorial and publish it here. These are long time Petersburg fishermen that I grew up with. Bill was unusually stoked about Vic's article and the skuldugery it exposed. That got me moseying over to the Fishermen's News booth to get a line on this editorial that they had printed earlier. I ended up calling the editor and in due course got a copy of the "News" that contained Vic's article.

I was meaning to call Vic this week in Friday Harbor to ask if I could publish it here in sections. Then I see this editorial in the Kodiak Daily Mirror about the same skuldugery; maybe a little more concise. I didn't want to get into this right before Christmas, which is why I didn't call Vic I guess. But like they say, "For evil to prevail, good men just have to do nothing."

Since I don't know Bobby Thorstensen or Ben Stevens, I will say that I've known Victor Smith probably as long as anyone in the fishing business. We go back to when we were going out to Blind Slough swimming in the summers, 18 miles out of Petersburg. One time we were waiting for the Smiths to come over so we could drive in a convoy. They were driving the Fish and Game "woody" and it had some rust. Vic's dad was the ADF&G game biologist. About all I remember is we had to go pick them up because their battery fell out on the ground on the way over to our place.

In the about 50 years I've known Victor Smith, I've never known him to stretch the truth, in fact he developed a pattern of seeking the truth going way back. It's hard for the average person to find out the whole truth, which is one reason I bring up things I see in this blog, for others that have more time and money to pursue. The onus on this one seems to rest on the Alaska Public Offices Commission. And maybe those fishermen who put Bobby Thorstensen in such a position of leadership over them.

I know the Thorstensen family because I grew up in Petersburg where Bob Thorstensen started Icicle Seafoods. My father gave Bobby's father his first job in Alaska. About all I'll say is that independent fishermen should wonder how much of Icicle Seafood's interests are being represented by having the founder's son run their professional association. His father lead his seafood processing professional associations and used to travel to Juneau quite a lot to further his processing business.

I read the mission statement that the United Fishermen of Alaska have, the organization that Bobby Thorstensen is head of. I saw that they proclaim to cooperate with the processors. Does that mean that the fishermen condesend to the processors, or the other way around - not. The only major breakthrough on price negotiations there ever was, was when the Kodiak seiners hired a negotiator for the Dallas Cowboys to come up and force the processors to cough up an equitable share of the market price of canned salmon. The price jumped from 7 cents a pound to 12 cents that summer. Since I had supplied the organizers with ammunition for these "negotiations" seiners thanked me for saving their season.

There was no cooperation involved. Someone came in and showed fishermen how to do business with the processors the right way. Now it seems it's back to business as usual. Question, does Bobby Thorstensen make more from being the heir to the Icicle Seafoods fortune or by catching a few humpies in Southeast?


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