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:"