Friday, March 31, 2006

Bundrant says Trident is "small potatoes"?

Refering to his take-over of another major Alaska seafood processor, Chuck Bundrant, Chairman and founder of Trident Seafoods, says he'll just be "small potatoes" compared to Japanese processing interests.

Trident's bow is running over other companies at a faster rate now.

This says one thing right off. That in the processors' scramble to gain secured ownership of fish resources to perpetuity for themselves, they are effecting a major give-away of U.S. citizen's renewable resources to foreign interests. And these foreign interests outweigh domestic interests by virtue of their ownership of more steel and concrete planted around Alaska. I'm sure they are pleased. Helping? Why not?

As crab "rationalization" has shown, this kind of give-away ends up shrinking the fleet to a small fraction of it's former glory. And that shrinks a lot of other things in turn. But a couple of processors who were able to influence the system got what they were after. You wouldn't believe the number of people who are willing to promote these processors' agenda and get themselves on every committee imaginable. So it ends up looking like a kind of solidarity, except it's the antithesis of fishermen and community health.

What gets me is when reporters unknowingly go along with what they think is solidarity, and out of naiveness, promote this undermining of the model of fishing community success. An otherwise noted reporter, who I usually enjoy reading, fell into this trap over the Trident announcement. He called Chuck Bundrant who, of course, said the merger would be the best thing since peanut butter. (I commented earlier on news that as early as 2001 or 2002, processors were saying they wanted plants for their production record. Doesn't that now seem obvious, given what happened in Dutch Harbor.)

Then this reporter called the "Godfather of the fishing industry," as he called him, who said "I like it." Where was he when my great-grandfather and grandfather began pioneering Alaska fisheries in 1901. And who also assisted in Adak dirty dealing recently.

Then he called a miners' lobbyist, who just now happens to be employed as the Commissioner of DCCED, who said "I don't see anything wrong with it." Well, why would he, I don't understand the mining industry either. And he's charged with preserving communities? (the second "C') Amazing!

The last "usual suspect" he called was the head of the self-proclaimed "largest fisherman's trade association in the State." The guy owns a huge chunk of stock in another major fish processor that his father is chairman of, and has always been a Seattlite, along with his crowd that keeps him in this position. What do you think he's going to say about a fellow conspirator? Now, conspiring to take all the money for yourself is what we find admirable in entrepreneurs, right? Even machine-gunning striking coal miners like Rockefeller did?

If you're thinking this merger might not be so hot now, hang on a sec., there's more. Mr. Bundrant says there will be lots of competition after the merger. Only one other competitor in Southeast Alaska. The little processors aren't competition. Trident will have three of the four plants in Petersburg, where the other competitor in the whole of S.E. is located.

Read what a reader sent that sheds a little light on what fishermen can probably expect even more of: "A local processor told me about attending a processors meeting in Anchorage where Chuck B. skipped out on lunch. When asked where he was during lunch C.B. explained that there was a cod fisherman in Sandpoint flying his fish out to Anchorage, so Chuck found out who was buying it and offered him all he could use at a lower price, "just don't buy any more fish direct from the fisherman." With all the "free-@#$%&*-money" Trident has been gifted via AFA and crab ratz they can afford to lose money squashing the little guys."

And another reader sent this: "Trident has inshore cooperative permits for pollok #101 and #102. This was a gift from Ted in 1999-American Fisheries Act(AFA). 101& 102 =33.723% of Bering Sea Inshore. 2003 yielded 282,334 metric tons for Trident.
People lease pollock "in the water" for $400 per ton. If Trident just leased this out it would be over $100,000,000 a year. forever. That's just live fish in the water."

That Darth Vader economist, Scott Matulich, testified to Congress on Feb. 13, 2006 to promote ratz:
"more remarkable because the gross value of the halibut fishery nearly doubled DUE to the IFQ policy."
"Introduction of IFQs liberated the market"allowing season to elongate eight months"
"59% of fish is now sold in higher-value,fresh market."
"average wholesale price of halibut increased 66%,while catch increased 19%"
"IFQs encouraged entry of both primary processors and broker's.These new entrants tend to be INNOVATIVE, LOW COST{efficient]firms that have operational advantage"
"Fifty-one new firms became buyers of halibut"

This is simply proof that Individual Fishing Quotas for fishermen is best for all concerned. It isn't justification for any other management scheme through calling IFQs "rationalization" and then calling the new processor privileges "rationalization" too. See what's going on?

And we sure don't need reporters glamorizing such activity by calling Chuck "flinty," like reporters labeled the killers and the robbers of the wild west days. What evidence is there that he will share his success with fishermen and communities instead of buying another jet or company? Well, you be the judge, and if you want to call the FTC but are hesitant, remember, "He who hesitates is lost."

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Will the real owners of the crab please stand up?

Like with pollock, the red king crab and opilio fisheries don't contribute that much to Alaska's economy and never have.

Construction of the plants in Dutch Harbor was expensive. Sometimes you'd have to blast the sidehill away first.

Alaskans didn't have the money to go after them in the harshness of the Bering Sea. And when real big bucks were needed, the Japanese stepped forward. When oil was discovered in the Middle East, American oil companies stepped forward.

We can't complain too much about the profits from the crab resources off Alaska's coasts going overseas for the most part. We all have heard the stories of wild spending by king crab crews and thought Americans were getting rich. It started out that way for the most part, but has slowly been taken away, and that is the opposite of Middle East oil extraction. The oil companies there slowly got kicked out. So I guess that's the rub. And now you gotta pay $30 dollars a pound in New York for king crab while the Southwest Alaska communities are sucking gas.

The kind of Governor Alaska needs is one who will fight to keep as much of the value of our resources in Alaska as is humanly possible. It takes being a constant student of the industry, not to mention a history of honesty and compassion and a firm grip of the Alaska State Constitution. You get consultants like Kodiak's adviser who says, "Forget about crab ratz." Who's he been lunching with in his home town of Seattle? Or economists like the Darth Vader economist of the seafood industry who advises the NPFMC and ADF&G. (Of course he was hand picked by the folks listed below, and with a black hole for integrity in government, he can bounce all over the place.)

A reader sent the following to me for our edification. I have been trying to pass on who these "processors" really are. Remember, they are not the plants or the plant managers. They are those shadowy figures that may never set foot in Alaska, ever.

"John, An interesting exercise is to see just how much the processors got from the Crab ratz. While the individuals got some quota, look at how much consolidation the processors have: Its easy to sort the excel sheet and add em up. And what happened to processing caps????? There are now only about 5 distinct processors for the crab fisherman."

0.69% Alaska Fresh
7.04% Alyeska
2.35% Highland Light
9.43% Icicle
19.31% Peter Pan
23.70% Unisea
10.47% Westward
26.95% Trident

Total 99.94%

"60.53% is owned by 3 Japanese Co's. Remenber, Alyeska & Westward - same company, Peter Pan and Unisea/Royal Aleutian. 38.72% is owned by Trident, Icicle plus Chaffee, who owns his own quota pretty much.

Don't forget Trident has about 24% of the opilio CPO quota, 17% of the Red Crab CPO, and a pile of catcher vessel quota. Add it up and they could control over 1/3 of the market. I guess that's why they need to be protected. So he can buy some more of these:"

Monday, March 27, 2006

Judge Holland on processors - "an astonishing ruse"

Check this out. "Judge Russell Holland of Anchorage, Alaska, called the agreements between Exxon and Seattle based fish processors "pernicious and flagrant violations of public policy," and said they amounted to "an astonishing ruse.""

A fisherman won't have to use retorts like these to can his salmon in a couple of years. Development continues on a continuous micro-wave process. Another reason "processors" are worried.

His ruling bars Exxon and the fish processors, known in the case as the Seattle Seven, from getting any of the $5 billion. The Seattle companies, which number more than seven, are:
Icicle Seafoods, Inc.
Peter Pan Seafoods Inc.
Seven Seas Corp. [Peter Pan]
Stellar Seafoods Inc. [Peter Pan]
Ocean Beauty Seafoods Inc.
Ocean Beauty Alaska Inc.
Wards Cove Packing Co.
Alaska Boat Co. [Wards Cove crab fleet]
North Pacific Processors Inc. [owners of Alaska Pacific in Kodiak]
ADF Inc. dba Aleutian Dragon Fisheries
Trident Seafoods Corp.
North Coast Seafood Processors Inc.

This is the bulk of the membership roster of the Pacific Seafood Processors Association, who's Executive Director sits as Chair of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council. And which Council is claiming a December deadline for divvying up the groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska. And which divvying options all force fishermen to bring their catch back to specified "processors."

Now look at the ownership of a few of these companies. According to the 1994 Legislative Research Agency reports:
January 21, 1994 - to Senator Loren Lehman, from Betsy Jensvold, Leg. Analyst Research request # 94.048


Alaska Pacific Seafoods Marubeni Corp. 100% Japan
Dai Ichi Seafood Lt. confidential Canada
King Crab Inc. Ika Muda (Ocean Beauty) 100% Indonesia
Western Alaska Fisheries Maruha (form. Taiyo) 100% Japan
Int'l Seafoods of AK Inc. Int'l Oceanic Enterp. 100? (Korea?)

Some miscellaneous information from a comprehensive Frank Orth and Associates study of ownership of processing capacity.
"North Pacific had plants in Cordova (Salmon,Crab, Grndfish) and Naknek (Sal + Herring) also 100% owned by Marubeni. They also owned Bering Sea Fisheries in Emmonak 25% (Salmon). Marubeni's 20% share of Wards Cove was bought out by the Brindles that borught 15 shore-based operations back into total US hands.
Marubeni owned 100% of Kenai Packers (Sal, Herring, Hal) in 1994, as well- but this might be skewed, as Daubenspeck owned it 100% earlier, and may still have."

"Marubeni held 50% of Sitka Sound Seafoods (multi-species) in Sitka and Yakutat and Dry Bay, + the F/V Frontier Spirit. (Sitka Sound Seafoods was purchased in recent years by Clearwater, a Canadian company with a British parent. And Marubeni held 100% of Togiak Fisheries (sal, Hrg), as it long did."

Ocean Beauty was purchased by Indonesian interests, but operations were taken over by a venture capital company in Los Angeles.

When the Brindles sold all their plants in recent years, they were snapped up for a dime on the dollar by a lot of folks who wanted to give processing a shot. The ownership of these plants, down to the 1% of stock, has not been established in one document for public consumption to my knowledge. You typically went to the Japanese for financing like this though, because of their interest in getting the product at a discount.

At the moment, Icicle Seafoods is employee majority owned. This could change if they could find a buyer like they did last time. They were going to sell for ten times stock value to BCCI Bank at one point, but that bank was found to be a scam to relieve rich Arabs of their wealth. I guess nobody figured the Arabs would miss a few hundred million.

Still, the main issue isn't a theft of public resources by the "processors," mostly from the fishermen, and the communities they support with their spending. One issue is that the "processors" are using the term "economic efficiency" as a ruse. (Didn't a Judge say that was what they were up to?) It is a manufactured term, just like "rationalization." "Profit center" is now being used by the ADF&G Commissioner to describe their central role in the economy of Alaska. They are taking credit for every trapper and handliner harvesting fish and game to survive.

ADF&G say they are responsible for $5 billion of economic activity in Alaska last year. What a crock. They are responsible for law enforcement and selling licenses to harvest just so much fish and game. If they had their way in trimming half the fleet for the sake of "economic efficiency" the $5 billion number would be a billion or so smaller. What a conradiction!

"Economic efficiency" is not public policy. Remember, there is a 58 foot limit on the length of a salmon seiner, and the seines and gillnets are limited in length. There are limits on the number of crab pots you can use. The health of the communities is public policy, and for that you need a way to increase the financial health of fishermen, not decrease it. And for that you need fishermen to vertically integrate their businesses, not get rid of their businesses.

The main issue is that there are tools in place now to help fishermen do that and the processors don't want to be cut out. They intend to cut out the fishermen first. And the fishermen don't donate to campaigns a tiny fraction as much as the "processors." This piece is just designed to get the reader past the "how could there be a plot?" to at least "what would they do that for?" Just rub your thumb and forefinger together and you'll get the idea.

Read this Primer On How To End The Race For Fish. Notice the credentials of this Canadian organization. The 50 page report came out Sept. 2005, and notice it doesn't propose "processor linkages" or "processor quotas." Compare the legitimacy of this report to the sole discredited economist of the NPFMC and the ADF&G.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

AP and NPFMC need to cough up proof they don't have an agenda

This is the other major case of "inhumanity to man" I've seen this week in Alaska fisheries. When there is such big money at stake in these attempts to grab power, and hence money, or just go straight for the money, the wives and children are the ones who really suffer.

The biggest threat to coastal communities in Alaska is the State and Council notion that the fleet needs to be thinned out. It's just because of a lack of support for good marketing strategies.

Fishermen, like men all over, are built to take their lumps and move on. The other big loser is the community of course. At issue today is the Advisory Panel to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council who held a pre-council meeting in Kodiak just after the gubernatorial debate there.

The Kodiak Daily Mirror writer said this of Panel member Duncan Fields; "He understands why some stakeholders harbor bitterness and cynicism and said he doesn’t believe the council has a pre-determined outcome or a conspiracy going on."
“In Kodiak, we’re listening to a chorus, and the chorus is very loud and they’re all singing in harmony. But the Kodiak chorus is part of a much larger choir, and the choir is not in harmony with the Kodiak chorus,” Fields said.
“In the meeting today, people — good people — don’t see the larger chorus,” he said.

Now that make me see red, just like it does Kodiak folks, and I haven't set foot on Kodiak Island since about '91. You gotta be blind as a bat not to see the manipulation going on by the Council and their Advisory Panel. I darned near threw up when I read this article.

These panel members are not stupid people, but to the extent they think we can't see between the lines of what they say, they are a little lacking. They can see desperation, fear and anger in fishing families over losing their livelihoods to the whims of a few people playing in the sand pile of power politics. Losing a boat to a storm is one thing, but losing it to the greed of the few is quite another.

I want to make it plain, the chorus that Kodiak is singing is being sung by fishermen all over the State. Why wouldn't it? If that meeting had been held anywhere else in the Gulf, the response would have been pretty much the same. They are fishing the same stocks and will be subject to the same regulations. Granted, Kodiak may be a bit more knowledgeable and hence more expressive, but as a lightning rod for comments from all over the state, I say the choir is harmonizing with them.

The burden of proof is on the Panel and the NPFMC to show EVERYBODY the studies that back up their claims, and that includes Kodiak being out of sync with the rest of the state. The General Accounting Office has discredited their studies so far. Cough it up boys or go home.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Fish Board wants their power served "not limited"

During the Goober debates, which didn't sound much like a debate, one candidate said that " fishermen shouldn't have to get involved in politics."

It's hard enough for coastal communities to exist in Alaska, without State government taking away their tools, the limited entry permits, that is making a way for them to take wings.

I think the candidate meant well, in that fishermen have enough to do to bring fish back to the dock so we can eventually eat them. Let this be a lesson to the rest of the candidates too, "The highest office in the land is the office of citizen." Derek Burnet.

Again, a citizen fisherman has brought something to our attention in the spirit of "Look what they are trying to do to us now!" If the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commisioner wasn't bad enough in trying to force fishermen to just be extensions of the production process of someone's shore plant, the Board of Fish is maybe worse. A Chignik fishermen's group sent the proposed legislation (see also Fisheries News on AlaskaReport, then print it out, because I'm going to comment on it by paragraph.)

Background: Out of exactly 100 permitted Chignik seiners, 60 opted to form a co-operative so they would only have to foot the expense of a few boats to catch all their fish. Well, in principal this sounded good to the Board of Fish, so they OK'd it. The State Supreme Court disbanded them this February 6 because of conflict with existing law. In addition to that, fifteen permit holders have either transfered their permit to their wife and got a Kodiak permit to work the boat, or sold the permit to a non-resident. Living in a condo in Maui and owning a Chignik permit, in the co-op, was a sweet deal. You get a season's settlement, with no crew, no boat, and you can stay home and sip umbrella drinks. You never even had to set foot in Alaska. (Now it sounds like stacking permits, a la the State Senate, would allow unlimited Maui residents to join in.)

This is the kind of social engineering the Administration and others are so fond of it seems. There is getting to be a pattern here; cut down on the number of voting fishermen. The fishermen that weren't in this co-op got less than a week of fishing compared to the co-op's 80 days. (God forbid they should ever get together, they might start voting for candidates that HELP them. Sorry, but the readership numbers at AlaskaReport say it's too late. Remember the Chairman of the Fish Board is the son-in-law of Alaska's Representative to Congress, Don Young. I won't get into a discussion on nepotism now though.)

So the Fish Board likes this making a few fishermen rich, even though 40% are going broke, and they want to spread their gospel around the state. The Supreme Court rightly threw out the whole idea, but the Board is trying to go around them, to the Legislature, by using misinformation. The UFA leadership apparently knew about this a long time ago. But those few big boat owners, with processor ties, have consistently supported anything to reduce the ranks of their own members. I don't think these couple of S.E. seiners can prove that the majority of the fishermen they claim to represent ever voted for anything they've said or done.

I'm getting off track, so here's something to consider about the Fish Board's request for the power to give fish to their cronies and anyone that hasn't looked crosseyed at them.

2nd paragraph: The Board isn't there to make judgements on economic development, and business strategies. There are other ways for fishermen to work together as independent businessmen than having their business plan enforced by state law. The RSDAs that the Legislature wisely enabled are such a mechanism. I would say the Fish Board is trying to scuttle the RSDA movement with this power grab.

3rd paragraph: This provides no information whatsoever. Just innuendo.

4th paragraph: More innuendo.

5th paragraph: Ya gotta do better than that. That's not bankable. Everybody has a different opinion on what is "extensive testimony." There is no mechanism for finding out if the majority of fishermen want co-operatives. In Chignik, the actual number of bona-fide fishermen that were in the co-operative was much less than a majority.

6th parapraph: Was there a problem?

7th paragraph: They started this program ten years before the co-operate came along. Don't break your arm patting yourself on the back for nothing.

8th paragraph: Yeah, courts sure are pesky critters to dictators.

9th paragraph: Oh yeah, in Oregon the federal court had to take over management of the dams on the Columbia because NOBODY could get anything right.

10th paragraph: WOW! A half dozen volunteers, who show up once in a while for a meeting are going to do all that? They're wanting to be another North Pacific Fisheries Management Council. Look what the Council did with Ratz. You're worst case scenario for Alaskans. Well, if Alaskans don't matter anymore, then have at it.

11th paragraph: The Fish Board is stretching the definition of "fisheries" beyond what anyone ever indended. "Fisheries" does not include social engineering. Get a grip Art.

12th paragraph: Not since the Court declared them illegal.

13th: paragraph: What, you Board think that your interpretation of the Limited Entry Act is of higher magnitude than the Supreme Court's? That your powers should NOT BE LIMITED? A lot of despots got into power this way.

14th paragraph: The Board finally mentioned fishery "resources." But the basic problem is that these brief resolutions leave a wide open door for abuse of powers that are only reserved for Judges and the Governor.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

"Processors" deserve a return?

The Gubernatorial candidates at the recent ComFish debate all agreed on one thing, that "processors don't qualify for quota shares."

In my 50 plus years in the Alaskan fishing business, I've never seen a fish demonstration before. Kodiak had one last week to show the Gubernatorial candidates and the Administration they are serious about not letting "processors" and the ADF&G ruin their livelihoods.

The 300 people in attendence broke into applause at that point. But one candidate went on to say about processors, "They deserve a return but we have not picked the right method." Another one said "fishermen and processors should work together." One quick comment on the latter quote. There has been 125 years of opportunity for them to work together.

You aren't going to legislate, or force, fishermen and processors to work together in the Gulf or the salmon fisheries, especially by using the State Troopers or Federal RAM Division folks. Since none of the candidates said anything more than what we've been saying for a long time in AlaskaReport, we are like the fisherman who stood up and said that "they are still in a wait and see mode." Since none of the candidates could speak on fisheries without setting off at least one alarm bell, we'll just have to look into the records for the answers. Not to worry boys, we'll just keep on educating them. A bunch of you readers of this column have passed on invaluable intelligence too.

We know one thing, the current administration is still pushing to increase the "processors" return. I don't know if you can say "they deserve a return." What makes a processing plant owner any more deserving of a return than a boat owner. Nobody is talking about insuring a return for fishermen, crewmembers included. We have a free enterprise system that rewards good work. That ain't broke, so don't fix it.

I talked to a chef last week who said a big Alaska processor, who delivers seafood around Oregon, will drop off fish at the back of a restaurant and then just leave. The chefs will find it sometime later when they have to start looking for the delivery. You know, temperature abuse. That same company fired their president a couple of years ago for using the company plane to "fly his daughter to school and then back again."

Some of the other big plants are Japanese owned. You know one way they hide profits to justify low ex-vessel prices? They pay many hundreds of thousands of dollars to executives by sending checks to their relatives every month. Compensation to management of other processors runs into the upper six figures. Their lobbying arm, the Pacific Seafood Processors Association, has a lobbyist on the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council as Chairman, or maybe I should say Chairwoman. The last I saw, they were using about $3 million a year to get their point across. And I'm not even scratching the surface.

Trident just bought a division from one of the worlds leading food conglomerates, ConAgra. So, this all begs the question, do the "processors" need any more help? Especially when hundreds of fishermen are going broke. Last summer, 125 gillnetters in Southeast tied up for a few weeks in the middle of the summer. And the only options on the NPFMC table include "processor linkages"? Meaning you have to sell to the processor they tell you to sell to, and take it up the tailpipe for the priveledge.

Another couple of examples, since so many politicians and community leaders don't have the hands-on experience to adequately deal with the "processor issue." First, keep your eyes open for future information on Abusive Transfer Pricing. As an aside too, there is one County Commissioner on the Oregon coast that now is saying that the local governments are going to have to speak up on fisheries management issues. He should know, he was an author of the MSA.

"Processors" aren't the shining knights they make themselves out to be when they donate to the local salmon derby or fisheries conference. And when you say "processor" make sure you make the distinction between the physical plant and the owner(s) of the equipment. The owners (the processors) change like musical chairs. Icicle Seafoods almost sold out entirely a little while back to a foreign corporation. The Brindels sold all their plants a few years ago. Norquest sold out to Trident, and on and on. If they want to "cooperate" let them ask for it, but I'd be willing to bet they will be content to get uninformed politicians to hand them exhorbitant returns on investment under the guise of "cooperatives" and "cooperation."

The current owners of processing plants would dearly love to get their hands on either quota shares, or second best, lock the fishermen into having to sell to them(linkages). It makes the value of their stock go through the roof. That is ALL they care about. Linkages have the following effect. The processor can then dictate any price. When too many go broke, they could just adjust the price to get the right number of boats of the right kind. Then they could finance boats for these survivors and then you're back to before limited entry, with the company owned fleets.

The first to be bumped off would be the small scale cod fishermen. And you could conceivably end up with salaries on the company boats like before the Depression. Now we're making progress. Not. Even though one attendee of the Debate said 98% of the audience was anti-rationalization, this Administration is all for it, so you can't wait to vote them out. Folks better write the NPFMC full bore and then maybe some honest staffer will tell us how all the comments stacked up. Remember the Pacific Council got 6000 nays and one yea on krill fishing and that killed that.

If anyone is thinking of getting ahead by helping or cooperating with the "processors", heed the old adage, "Be very careful what you wish for." You could get a genie out of your bottle that will be your worst nightmare. Just ask the Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Processor linkages are needed for transitional stability?

Fortunately, on-line news services like this one can quickly respond to very time sensitive matters, especially when superior acting folks think they have the last word.

This wasn't Augustine I was flying over, but Kodiak may be ripe for blowing it's top if ADF&G doesn't drop it's "agenda."

Commissioner Campbell of the ADF&G got in an article in the Kodiak paper right before Com-Fish, basically telling critics to keep quiet. I don't read much written by him personally, just get what he is doing from other reporters and readers. But this article really shows he is on a "mission."

This is why he is attacked. Because a Commissioner is supposed to look at things candidly and professionally, not slanted and politically. When he mentions "processor linkages are needed for transitional stability," all red lights start flashing, and I think I see flames coming out of number four engine. There is no instability now that even remotely compares to the destruction to the free enterprise system, that forcing a businessman to do business with someone else, would have.

If Commissioner Campbell can't understand that, then he deserves whatever criticism comes his way. It's free enterprise that has made this country strong. Like the old saying goes, "he might not have a good grip on historical perspectives, but he sure doesn't know doodly about the fishing business."

Look, I could pick holes in the above hyper-linked article all day, but a lot of you need to get downtown (Kodiak) and attend the functions. I found Mr. Campbell's article offensive, is all I'll say. Taking a superior tone with hard nosed fishermen isn't going to foster cooperation. And fishermen sure don't want to hear about cooperation with processors who are so deliberately trying to gain advantage. ADF&G might be a little believable if they didn't use the term "rationalization."

Mr. Campbell, nobody is assasinating your character, you do just fine by yourself, in trying to further the interests of the processors. If somebody told you to do all this, and you don't like the heat, then maybe you should get out of the kitchen. A rival manager told me that and I quit the major league processors for good. I suspect you are like me when I worked for the big processors, you find yourself working for the side that doesn't fit your character because you can't pull off the "big lie" believably, no disrespect intended.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Call to Action Kodiak style

As Com-Fish nears in Kodiak this week, Kodiak folks seem to be gearing up in a "mad as .... and not going to take it anymore" tone. And of course how can you blame them.

KAKN in Naknek. My "Passport Alaska" marketing director, Roberta Foster, went out to help run the radio station in about 1995.

Confidence in the Federal fisheries management process is at an all time low, if it's on the radar at all. Look at the flak NOAA - NMFS is getting over the king salmon debacle in California and Oregon.

The point that I make is that the Federal government and politicians (yes, even in Alaska) try things out of political pressure without having a clue what the results are going to be, except maybe to make a couple of wealthy supporters happy in the short term. Like giving the Klamath water to the farmers and watching the parasites bloom in the warm water in the river, or giving the crab to the processors and watching half the jobs go away and communities become battered. Like in assault and battery? Pretty much.

Some quotes here from a Kodiak reader, sent to explain "rationalization."
"Wherever men hold unequal power in society, they will strive to maintain it. They will use whatever means are convenient to that end and will seek to justify them by the most plausible arguments they are able to devise."
~Reinhold Neibuhr

"When plunder has become a way of life for a group of people living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it, and a moral code that glorifies it."
~Frederic Bastiat

The government design of the US was congruent to the veritable limitlessness of space and opportunity in North America [which also fit perfectly with the expansive nature of capitalism]. Good fit produces satisfying results. As we hit critical physical limits, the design collapses into corruption, destruction and inhumanity - not because corruption, destruction and inhumanity are either bad or good, but because they are what fits so beautifully with
overpopulation and exhausted resources.
~Pondurenga Das

"...the absentee-owned canned salmon industry was opposing all conservation measures proposed at various times by conscientious government officials who found themselves overwhelmed by political pressure and alternative threats which would put an end to their public career or blandishments with positions with the industry."
~Richard Cooley Politics and Conservatiion

And the message of the day, brought to you by concerned Kodiak residents;


Your support at Comfish, Kodiak is needed! Plan to attend the following events to alert fisheries policy makers and gubernatorial candidates of our concerns with Gulf of Alaska Groundfish Rationalization:

THURSDAY, MARCH 16th 4:00 to 6:00 pm Reception at the Fisheries Research Center on Near Island welcoming the candidates of the Gubernatorial Debate.

THURSDAY, MARCH 16th 7:00-9:00 pm Gubernatorial Candidates Debate at the Gerald C. Wilson High School Auditorium.

FRIDAY, MARCH 17th at 9:30-10:30 "ALASKANS FOR OPEN MARKETS" rally on the sidewalk in front of the high school. Dress in raingear if you please, bring the kids and announce to the State of Alaska that coastal Alaskans demand free markets for their fish.

FRIDAY, MARCH 17th at 10:30am-12:30pm Drama Pod Gulf of Alaska Groundfish Rationalization Forum: Solutions for State Water Fisheries with ADF&G Commisioner Mckie Campbell

SATURDAY, MARCH 18th- 10:30am-12:30pm Community Protections: Share the Voice and the Vision! This panel will include visitors from other regions who are encountering radical fisheries management changes. They will share their experiences and highlight how their communities are working together to find proactive ways to keep the fish coming to town.

The face of Alaska's fisheries is dramatically changing. Resource managers are developing programs to limit access to public fishery resources by assigning quotas based on individual fishing history - the more you caught in the past, the more you will be allocated to catch in the future. The stated purpose is to slow down the pace of fishing to improve conservation, increase safety and reduce excess fishing capacity for improved economic efficiency. However, program design determines the actual results- - the devil is in the details.

Most recently the North Pacific Fishery Management Council and the U.S. Congress established a quota program for Bering Sea crab that has had significant impact on our communities and fishing families. The program resulted in an extreme level of consolidation such that less than half the fleet is still fishing and about 900 skippers and crew lost their jobs. Those who do have jobs are working more and making less money. Safety and conservation benefits are in question. Fishermen are required to deliver 90% of their catch to specified processors, all but eliminating market competition. Crew jobs and other business activities in communities were sacrificed to achieve extreme economic efficiencies.

Instead of improving with each new limited access program, the economic effects are getting worse:

· Capital is leaving our communities through absentee control of the fisheries;
· Excessively high capital cost of entering fisheries is a barrier to the next generation of local fishermen;
· The need to hold quota in order to participate in a fishery diminishes the ability of an independent family operation from having access to a sufficiently diverse portfolio of fisheries;
· As local Alaskans drop out of fishing, the benefits of our fisheries become vested in fewer and fewer hands. The diversity of interests at the table is diminished, further guaranteeing that community and State interests will not be met over time.

The limited access program now under development for Gulf of Alaska groundfish is headed down a path similar to the flawed crab program.

What are some solutions?

This struggle is occurring at the regional level in which the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) is developing limited access quota program for Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries. It's also happening at the federal level where Congress is in the process of reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

Our vision for coastal communities is one in which --

· Independent fishing families support themselves through employment in Alaska's array of fisheries as vessel owners, skippers, crew and processing workers;
· There are viable opportunities for the next generation of fishermen to enter Alaska's fisheries and build a family business;
· There are open markets to deliver harvested catch, a positive economic environment for diverse processing operations and opportunities for entrepreneurial processing enterprises;
· The economic value of Alaska's fisheries remains in coastal communities to benefit local economies, including related businesses (such as marine suppliers, boat yards, welders and fuel distributors) and community infrastructure (such as transportation, schools and ports);
· Fishery resources are managed for long-term conservation and with minimal impact on the ecosystem that supports them.

Building on Alaska's rich fishing heritage, this is a vision for the working waterfronts that make our communities viable fishing towns.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Notes from all over on the "Goober Debate" and Com-Fish

First of all, you'll probably hear "thank you so much for your concern" from some Gubernatorial candidate. Scream for me too.

The church at Port Heiden. If you aren't physically going to help stop the processors from taking fishermen's fish in the next month in D.C., then pray full bore they don't.

You get that all the time communicating with these kind of folks. They just aren't prepared to make a quotable statement, so that's about all they can think of to say. They could tell the truth, that they need more information. And they could give you the courtesy and benefit of the doubt by asking YOU for more information.

We have worked in the industry our whole lives, mostly at our own expense, to make the fishing industry better for everyone. (Processors only want it better for themselves.) Then along comes a new face to the industry ASPIRING to a PAID position to MAYBE help the common good of the fishing communities.

If it's fishing related they are getting spoon fed by the "other side." And that's a point. If candidates don't understand that it's "them against us," they are clueless. If they won't admit there is a life and death struggle going on, they won't ever help fishermen later. And of course you don't want a candidate that is for the status quo. "Take a lot when they aren't looking and give a little when they are" is the processor mantra now. I wonder if Sea Grant teaches that in their "processor school." lol

One reader states: "Ratz is a pretty benign topic in most of the state."

And, "I hear from some friends in town (Kodiak) that there is going to be a media event at Com-Fish." March 16 at 7 to 9 P.M. is the Gubernatorial Forum.

"Talk about getting the crab back into the common fishery."

"Fishermen may not be able to market fish under an RSDA for awhile, but they can use the platform to fight for their survival."

"Choose one of the Bristol Bay districts and concentrate there to do RSDA work. You need a public dock and fuel for one thing."

"MSA REAUTHORIZATION is the big thing. Biggest thing. And no one wants us to leave our distractions with PQs and GOA Ratz etc. to concentrate on it. They love us being like witches in the nights with a caldron a dancing and thinking we are conjuring up success while they are inside the bank robbing it at the Congress."

"They have MSA scheduled now to go through by end of month. That's it. Over. DAPs will be legal, and processors can form associations to get such rights, and since they hold the Council's hostage, that's what will occur."

"Civil servants don't stand up for the puclic for fear of losing their pensions. Then the economic base is eroded by resource grabs (that they see coming) by big out-of-state companies."

"Processor linkages, processor quotas, forced co-operatives and other "rationalization" schemes are like silting in the spawning streams. Government agencies and the loggers didn't tell the public about logging's effect on the streams. Just like Government agencies and the processors aren't telling what effect "rationalization" is having on fishermen and communities."

"One placard at the Goober Debate will read "ratz = trapz."

Another Kodiak fisherman says: "My gut feelings are that if the Gulf Ratz goes through, it's the end of an era for me and so many like me who had the opportunity and choices to make our own way."

My suggestion for the media event is don't hang anyone in effigy, the processors might press charges for air pollution. And one reader suggests reading how Ghandi got India back from the British. Please get Alaska back from the processors, so my sons will have a crack at continuing an Enge fishing tradition of unknown number of millenia. That will be one thing Uncle Ted can chalk up to his credit if he can get "rationalization" through Congress. If there isn't much of a show in Kodiak, the MSA is sure to sail through for the processors and I'll have to recommend my sons do something else.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Trader Joe's, Washington D.C. logic

The hyper linked article below caught my eye because I had a chance recently to stock up on something from Trader Joe's in Eugene, Oregon.

Being a fisherman can feel especially lonely when fishermen's leaders don't stand up for them, ie. in the "processor quota" fight. That's why RSDAs are needed.

The people from Medford here that were heading to Portland, just had to stop in and do a little shopping at Trader Joe's. Check out the article. It may hold the clues to the future of the food business.

"That kind of passionate, focused attention to food is clearly sensed by Trader Joe's customers. "This sounds crazy, but you feel like the company likes food even more than they like money," said Marcy Benfiglio, who lives near the branch in Larchmont, N.Y. "You don't feel that at the supermarket.""

Check out this quote by James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality on the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens FMCA. "Connaughton said the bill would be the best way to urge fishery conservation worldwide. "The only way we can make progress internationally [against overfishing] is to show them to we do it the best here," he said."

What I thought was a disconnect was, Administration rhetoric on showing the world how to conserve fish, and then on the other hand showing the world how to kill off fishermen by giving the fishing rights to huge companies. What kind of nonsense is this. About like making a sweetheart deal with a big Arab company to manage our most strategic port facilities back East. When you are in Washington D.C. you're numb to people's feelings about what it's like to live in the ports.

Alaskan's weren't able to stop the wholesale pillaging of Alaska from 1867 up until 1959. They haven't been able to stop the retail pillaging of Alaska even yet. If Alaska's Governor thought a small fraction like how pre-statehood Governor Ernest Gruening did, we wouldn't be seeing the give-away of fishermen's livelihoods to "processor quotas." I sure would like to know how a Governor can think Alaskans will stand for giving the fish back to the processors after finally getting it to Alaskan fishermen after 92 years of trying.

I don't think Alaskan's care what kind of sweetheart deals Governor Murkowski has made with the big fish companies. He's sure to go down for this, and I suspect a whole lot more than just two North Pacific Fisheries Management Council Members will be jumping ship too. I suppose you'll have to kick the Red Queen out of the State, not that she lives there anyway.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Justice will prevail, Eskimo style

It's not often you see a story that just crys out to be seen in it's entirety and without comment.

This sunset was one of those times when you just gotta stop the boat to take a picture. Notice the waves from stopping dead in the water.

The only thing I'll add is that I have been a proponent of a museum or memorial to the exceptional women who have recognized their role as one of trying to make Alaska great.

One of those I believe was my Great-grandmother who helped her husband, Rasmus Enge break ground for the big Sitkoh Bay cannery in 1900. They soon moved back to a cannery on Wrangell Narrows that was the economic impetus for the future town of Petersburg. When the family was established, Anna took in numerous stray miners and Native children. And they had a theater, sans the discrimination. See article immediately below.

Another is the story of Alberta Skenk, possibly the Rosa Parks of Alaska. It just came in from a reader this morning.

But here's the story of the day. It's inspiring and will cause pause for thought and comes from one of my many readers (White Mountain) who also are trying to make Alaska great.

“In November of 2003, I was honored to join with the Senator from Maine, Ms. Collins, in speaking on the Senate floor about the need for a national museum honoring the contributions of women in American history. Senator Collins and I took turns addressing the accomplishments of pioneering women from our respective states, who were breaking through glass ceilings long before society acknowledged that they even existed. One of the women I discussed was Sadie Brower Neakok, an Inupiaq Eskimo woman, from Barrow on Alaska’s North Slope. Sadie has the distinction of being the first woman to serve as a Magistrate in the State of Alaska. Four years before the United States passed its landmark civil rights act; an Eskimo woman was sitting on the bench in the State of Alaska. But her life was remarkable in so many other respects. For one thing, she was appointed in 1960, a year after Alaska was admitted to statehood and long before women, not to mention Alaska Native women, came to realize that a career in the law was even an option. She continued in that role for nearly two decades. Second, she was not trained as a lawyer. She was trained as an educator at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Yet when Sadie took the bench everyone knew she meant business. You should know that in the early days, the bench was Sadie’s kitchen table. She was tough on offenders, but equally tough on government officials when asked to enforce unjust laws and regulations. Ignoring the neutrality and detachment our society expects from its judicial officers, Sadie took a great risk when in May, 1961 she challenged an arbitrary game regulation which permitted duck hunting only after the ducks had already flown south. After one subsistence hunter was arrested for violating the law, she quietly organized the rest of the community to violate the same law. Nearly 150 people came forth bearing ducks and demanded to be arrested. The Game Warden could not keep up with the violators. There was not sufficient space in the jail to house them all. Sadie refused to charge them. In response to the community emergency, the regulation was changed. Reflecting on this well known episode of civil disobedience, the Alaska Commission on the Status of Women in 1983 noted, “It was, perhaps, judicial activism at an awkward peak – but it brought necessary change for the people of Barrow.” Finally, Sadie was already an accomplished teacher, a public health worker and a social worker before taking the bench. She was working on her fourth career before many women embarked on their first job outside the home. This is not to say that Sadie ignored the home. She was the mother of 13 children and cared for numerous foster children. In fact, she is regarded as the mother of all Barrow, which today has a population of about 4,500 people. She was a renowned seamstress, capable of making virtually anything from cloth or fur. Her life makes the aspiration shared by many women of “having it all” seem like a cliché. I have the sad duty of informing the Senate that Sadie Brower Neakok passed away last Sunday at the age of 88. When asked once what the best part of her work was, Sadie replied, “gaining the respect of my people.” Today in Barrow, Alaska, which remains an Eskimo community where people still speak their Native language, the community will turn out to demonstrate the depth of that respect. If there were a National Women’s History Museum, young women everywhere would know Sadie’s name and be able to take inspiration from her story. Until then it will take a bit more effort for people to learn more about this remarkable woman. Fortunately, Sadie’s story is not lost to history. It is preserved for eternity in recorded oral histories and in the book “Sadie Brower Neakok – An Inupiaq Woman” by Margaret Blackman. It was a privilege to honor the life of Sadie Brower Neakok on the Senate floor last November. Today we extend our sympathy to Sadie’s family and to all of the Inupiaq people of the North Slope on the loss of a respected Elder and a great leader,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

There were also tidbits of interest to all of us in the fishing business in the hyper-linked story of Alberta Skenk and the one on founding of the Alaska Territorial Guard by Ernest Gruening. One part spoke of the defeat of Alaska's efforts before WWII to get government help to organize an Alaska defence. The Seattle cannery interests helped defeat the effort, just like they did the fish trap provision in the White Act in 1924. This written by the ATG Commander in Nome:

"I was surprised to find Alberta's theme in the next issue of the Nome Nugget. It appeared in the form of a letter to the editor and bore her own signature. The next issue carried an answering protest signed only "A subscriber." It had been written and sent in by the wife of the manager of a local store. The editor felt obligated to print it. But Alberta was in dead earnest and was ready with her second article in reply. By this time the newspaper was anxious to drop so hot an issue and the printed discussion came to a sudden close. But the issue remained a live one."

The point is that the media, as we have always called it, the newspapers, magazines, radio and television, don't touch real hot-button topics. This writer and AlaskaReport feels the need to keep things like "processor quotas" in the fire so the dead wood will be burned up and things get to a stasis of smooth functioning and prosperity for the folks. Otherwise, why be a writer at all?

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Are "processor quotas" colonialism?

The Declaration of Independence refered to "a candid world," in who it was making it's statements to. With our getting 550,000 hits in the first 45 days of 2006, these commentaries certainly go out to a candid world.

This picture I took on the North shore of Douglas Island always spoke "reflection" to me.

You wouldn't believe all the countries that view this site. SiteMeter shows where your readers are on a map of the world. But look at this statement in regard our assertion that the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council is out of control and working in cross purposes to the will of the people of Alaska, notwithstanding a very few fishermen that stand to gain a lot of money by going along with them.

"But that is only a small part of the evidence of our colonialism under the American flag. Let us submit more facts to a candid world.
First, let us ask, what is a colony? And let us answer that question.
A colony has been defined in a standard college text-book by a Columbia University professor as "a geographic area held for political, strategic and economic advantage."
That, as the facts will show, is precisely what the Territory of Alaska is--"a geographic area held for political, strategic and economic advantage."
The maintenance and exploitation of those political, strategic and economic advantages by the holding power is colonialism.
The United States is that holding power.
Inherent in colonialism is an inferior political status.
Inherent in colonialism is an inferior economic status.
The inferior economic status is a consequence of the inferior political status.
The inferior economic status results from discriminatory laws and practices imposed upon the colonials through the superior political strength of the colonial power in the interest of its own non-colonial citizens.
The economic disadvantages of Alaskans which in consequence of such laws and practices redound to the advantage of others living in the states who prosper at the expense of Alaskans--these are the hall-marks of colonialism."

These comments were included in a speech by Alaska's delegate to Congress, the Honorable Bob Bartlett, in pre-Statehood days. They used to call these guys "honorable" for a reason. Anyway, compare running roughshod over the fishermen and communities, who make up the population of coastal Alaska, to this description of colonialism.

Irregardless of M-S Fisheries Act attempts to include the public comment, it's hardly a protection for the people. And it is a far cry from democracy. It is no secret that many of the Councilors minds are made up in advance of the public hearings. Not to mention their economic advice, that seem to many as engineered, and who have a lot of evidence to support the notion.

The persecuted don't have to take it. They do have to speak up though. I don't speak for anyone but myself. Leaders of fishing groups don't speak for anyone but themselves and maybe a handful of others they talk to. It kills me when I see leaders of these groups repeatedly say how many dozens of groups they represent. You know how easy it is to type in a group name on your membership list. This isn't democracy either. A far superior democracy for fishermen is the Regiona Seafood Development Association: a non-profit corporation that is fully visible.

Getting the truth out to "a candid world" and letting people elect leaders that think like them is democracy. It's going to be interesting to see what Gubanatorial candidates in Alaska have done their fisheries homework. Check out Alaska Public Radio Network on March 16 from 7 to 9 Alaska time. I guarantee that any candidate that is for giving away the jobs of fishermen and the lifeblood of communities, in doling out living resources, won't dare show up. Or supporting the export of our fish resources for pennies on the dollar rent to Alaskans.

One last thought, the Magnuson Act might work better for communities in the contiguous 48 states, but not in Alaska where it's so easy to justify to the less diligent that fish needs to be shipped out in the round. And caught by just a few. I'd be willing to bet that if any bigger king crab trap would have worked better, crab "rationalization" would have given the big operators those too.

Maybe big money snuck up on Alaskans on crab "rationalization," but at least it won't sneak up on Alaskans on any more gifting of natural resources to themselves. And without any royalty payments to the public either, like in mining and oil. Doesn't that sound like coastal colonialism?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Cannery work; won't it ever change?

Sometimes ya just gotta shoot the breeze about your roots. And in my case it's working in the cannery. I sent this great article on cannery work to the two of my three teenagers who might want to follow in their dad's footsteps.

The old homestead in Petersburg, AK I grew up in. My father helped build it in 1929.

One wants to design video games and mostly loves to try to get all his homework done in single digit minutes. The other was the one who said, "I just love to feel a fish struggling on the other end of my line." I think he's the one that might carry on the Enge tradition of sea-faring (and fish processing) that began God-knows when back in the Old World.

In that vein for a sec., I suppose my father reached the pinnacle of Enge seafaring by captaining a couple of 385 footers during WWII. The Navy gave him ships because they knew he had cut his navigational teeth on Wrangell Narrows. I say a couple, because the first one was blown in half by a torpedo or mine immediately upon crossing the North Atlantic. Maybe Daniel will build on the seafaring career he started with a summer on his uncle's gillnetter, about like his Grandpa did. Or he may opt to work in a cannery and not fret the 1/2 share that is usual these days for a first-timer on a seiner.

But I was inclined to immerse myself in the hustle and bustle of cannery and cold storage life. I had to fend for myself in the winters though. But I guess Key West and Israel weren't bad places to wait for the next season. I got to travel around Alaska a lot in those days of the expansion of Whitney-Fidalgo Seafoods. Like flying down to Unimak Island to show a floater the difference between bright dogs and sockeye of the exact same size.

I thought I would be content to follow in my father's footsteps, but alas, I couldn't go along with the "give a little when they are looking and take a little when they aren't." I'm pretty much of a straight up guy. So I bailed out of that after a dozen years. With one hiccough in 1990, running a plant in Juneau.

The U of A Marine Advisory Program is now offering a course in "Plant Management." Like the other U of A attempt last fall, you sign up and see if there is enough interest. The highlight of the course, I hear, is a trip to the "other side" somewhere to see how other folks process fish. Heck, this crazy fish farm I worked on in Israel had more modern fish handling machinery than I'd seen in Alaska.

I remember one time Whitney sent Ben Berkeley, our cold storage foreman in Petersburg, to Seattle to watch production rates of those old Seattle ladies. They could beat our gang hands down. And we had a Filipino header, Dick Kuwata, that learned knifemanship preparing for the "commies" in the Philipines. That was humbling.

Well, everything is different nowadays by far. It changed radically just in the years I was on the docks, from the late 60s to about 1980. It started getting real corporate then, and the comaradarie of processing management went by the wayside. I think there are people that are born to do this kind of work. There are now 6.5 billion people in the world to choose from. I know there are some candidates somewhere for the big "processors." Probably more for the small processors.

As a side note, it would only be right if the owners of the big processing companies showed up in person at the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council proceedings. After all, they are asking the Federal authorities for billions of dollars (present value) of something that belongs to the public. My readers in Europe and Asia are now asking themselves, "You mean you can get billions of dollars in America by not even working for it?" The short answer is yes, if you have lost your altruism. I wouldn't suggest losing it though, in the end you will want it back but it will be too late.

Did you know that researchers find that all babies are altruistic at 18 months of age? Even at that age, they try to help out. Just thought I'd shed a little light for idealistic youngsters, thinking about processing as a career, like I was. But don't let this stop you from trying to make things better in your own way.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

DEC, Council appointments, and "the money trail starts here."

Between the time I posted an alert yesterday about "cleaning rules" on board, and this morning, DEC backed off some nutty proposed "3 day rule."

I went to school in these buildings at OSU. They are connected with the annual Micro-Canners Conference in Oregon. Click here. For more small processing info from U. of A. Click here.

The DEC person I finally talked to said they should have done a better job of notification. How about a better job of talking to fishermen FIRST? The RSDAs can't get rolling fast enough to head off this kind of strong-arming.

Speaking of strong-arming, here's an article on "Reauthorization" of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Management and Conservation Act that is working it's way through Congress now.
Fishery council appointments: Currently, there are no conservationists on the PFMC. The bill would require the appointment (by the Secretary of Commerce) of some council members who are "representatives of the public interest in marine fish conservation, including individuals who do not derive any of their annual income from commercial or recreational fishing." The existing law requires council members to be participants in the fishing industry in one way or another, on the belief these individuals know the issues, the industry and the oceans best. The proposed change might not result in the appointment of any environmentalists, but, says DeFalco, it would be good if the regional councils added retired noncommercial anglers or state fish and wildlife officials - "somebody without a financial interest in the industry."

Yeah, that would be good! But, you know, nobody is going to do the "good" thing unless they are MADE to. Admiral James Watkins, U.S. Navy (Retired), Chairman of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy endorsed the need for independent science. That includes economic impact analysis by Doctorates advising Alaska and the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council. Why did Alaska have to hire an economist from Pullman, WA instead of the University of Alaska? And a university that takes in huge chunks of money from the large shore-based seafood processors and their association.

Washington State University is even doing the research on the new "canning" technology. A "Processor's University." So how can you think that an economist from there, who pushed giving living seafood resources in perpetuity to the owners of shore plants, is independent? A fisherman/researcher drove over to Pullman and got an interview on tape with the "rationalization" economist. Eventually he showed his stripes when he called fishermen greedy S.O.B.s. Actually he called them "those most egregious rent seekers." Same thing.

I remember when Anchorage was going through the burst housing bubble thing in the mid '80s. There was an economist for Key Bank that had a daily column in the Anchorage Daily News. The more the market imploded, the more adamant he was that there was no cause for alarm. People were turning in their keys to different banks and streaming down the AlCan Highway. I was watching if he would ever change his tune. He never did. His column just disappeared when the banks started toppling like dominoes. Was he paid to say what he did. I think so. He was a literate man.

How can an irrational process produce "rationalization"? Here's a few rules that should be adopted by, and they know who they are. First, fisheries advisors to elected officials shouldn't be allowed to make public statements. Second, fishermen's group leaders need to have "clean hands." Third, economists can't be frothing fishermen haters. Fourth, Fisheries Management Council members must recuse themselves on matters that would enrich themselves or their employers. And you could put a limit on that, say $25 million a pop. That would pay for their time on the Council good enough I would think.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

DEC proposes to ban cleaning your fish?

I got this today from a reader.We should give it our attention, and there's only until 5 o'clock on March 2 to give it some deep thought. Then e-mail your comments to the e-mail address in the announcement below, even though I called DEC and Kimberly is out of the office until next week. This from the reader:

There is a DEC rule change to prevent cleaning of fish during trips of LESS than 3 days. Also there is a pre existing rule that no fish can be cleaned inside of 1/2 mile of shore. Why wasn't notice sent to every halibut fisherman and every troller in the state? Is this anything more than an outright attack on the two fisheries that deliver the highest quality fish in the state?

"The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) proposes to repeal, adopt, and amend regulations in Title 18 of the Alaska Administrative Code, dealing with Chapter 34, the Seafood Processing and Inspection Regulations, including the following:Clarify what activities constitute processing; update requirements adopted by reference; clarify permit requirements, application and renewal, and prohibited activities; revise certain facility plan approval and facility requirements, including water supply, ice and toilet requirements; change labeling requirements for “export only” products; amend seafood product and product testing standard; establish provisions regulating direct market shore based processors and geoduck dive vessels; and clarify language regarding oil contamination procedures.

DEC proposes to make other changes necessary to improve the regulations, including those changes that appear necessary after reviewing public comments. DEC strongly suggests anyone interested in the Seafood Processing and Inspection Regulations read the proposed regulation changes. You may comment on the proposed regulation changes, including the potential costs to private persons of complying with the proposed changes, by submitting written comments to Kimberly Stryker, Division of Environmental Health, Department of Environmental Conservation, 555 Cordova St., Anchorage, AK 99501, by facsimile at (907) 269-7654, or by e-mail at The comments must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. on March 2, 2006."

My suggestion is to just say what you would like to see in the way of rules to regulate what you are doing or would like to do in the future. Certainly tell them that to enforce any "cleaning rule" would amount to a fisherman having to hire a full time observer that would cost more than many small operators make. And any "cleaning rules" would be really just make outlaws out of all fishermen since such a rule is unenforceable. And that it would be the biggest embarassement a State government could imagine, among all state governments. Alaska would become a by-word for sure. Bridges to no-where would be bug speck on the windshield compared to the train wreck they would have.