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.