Wednesday, December 28, 2005

What do YOU consider "rational"?

They call this new type of fisheries management "rationalization." Why they call it that, or who came up with the idea, I'm not sure anyone knows. It is, however, taking on the patina of very low viscosity oil. It might go down in the history books as a byword for something that can never be defined because the political forces are pulling it all over the board so fast that Webster can't pin it down. I say, if nobody claims it in 90 days, take it to the dump.

I think a lot of fishermen percieve their voice in seafood industry to be small because of how small their operation is in the "big fishing pond."

Since I have to hit the road for a few days, I'll leave this independent fishermen's web site with you as homework. And since there is a Victor Smith letter on the site, that's quite enough to read for the duration. Vic always lays out a ton of details of behind-the-scenes activity that ends up describing how we got to where we are, in a lot of ways, in the fishing business. Notice I separate this from the seafood business. That's because the fishing business is the rough and ready, business as usual, get what you can as fast as you can stuff that we've seen since the first canneries were built in the 1800s.

It is characterized by fishermen competing with each other with net against net, longline against longline and even with fist and pike-pole. The other main characteristic of the fishing industry is the animosity between fishermen and cannery owners. It's called the "fishing game" by big processors. It is a sport to all the participants. More people all the time are wanting to tame it and call it the "seafood business." Among the chief reasons are wives telling husbands they better make some money at the business or sell the boat.

As fishermen get more savvy at playing the game, the processors go to greater lengths to assert their dominance over the industry. Heck, just look at what the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute calls the processing sector - the industry. Think about how many times you've heard "the industry" used to refer to the processing sector. A lot of people are conditioned to exclude all the fisher/businessmen, city managers, marine hardware store owners, etc. from the definition of the seafood industry.

We need to get Webster up to Alaska to get the semantics straight so we can move forward in an orderly manner. Fishermen also need to speak up. Now is the time.


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