Thursday, April 27, 2006

Hunting the NOBLE crab rats: Part II

John, here is part 2 of the AFA(American Fisheries Act) scandal. Part one ended with how a simple error on a fish ticket could land a regular fisherman in jail, fined heavily or both. Let's look at what happened to Ben Stevens when he masterminded the (not so) clever circumvention of AFA, the same law his own father made to restrict trade by limiting who can buy crab from an independent fisherman. (Why would you do that?)

This picture of eagles in front of my parents house in Petersburg reminds me of how far down the food chain the 99.9% of us have fallen, considering how much a couple of guys get under AFA and Crab ratz. And we never thought nobility was allowed in the U.S.! If the AFMB has given away $29M, and the fishermen's RSDA have only gotten a couple hundred thousand, where has it all gone? Maybe this is a hint: Bobby covers Icicle's bases and Ben and Trevor cover Tridents?

There is now a clear record of depositions from the legal battle surrounding Adak Fisheries, Adak Fisheries Development Corporation and Aleut Corp. From those records, and from State of Alaska records, you can see a shocking example of the type of scheming that goes on with the American Fisheries Act, which, as I've said before, has nothing to do with the health of any fish stocks, it is solely designed to allocate resources among favored companies, and to eliminate any new buyers of pollock and crab.

For example, Icicle Seafoods became a 50% shareholder of Adak Fisheries LLC for $500,000 with Kjetil Solberg, who was holding an option for Ben Stevens to buy 25% also for $500,000. Bobby Thorstenson Jr.,one of the largest stockholders of Icicle, had employed Ben as a lobbyist on behalf of Southeast Alaska Seiners Assn and United Fishermen of Alaska (Bobby is president of UFA). Bobby also sits on the same Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board (AFMB) as Ben Steven and Trevor McCabe, this is the funny money fund discussed in the last letter, note that Icicle Seafoods has been getting their share of "grants".

This group of Icicle, Adak LLC, Solberg and Ben Stevens then set about illegally buying more than 4,000,000 lbs of king crab when, under AFA, Icicle's limit was 221,000 lbs in the Adak facility (which this group now owned.)When caught they said "Solberg's Adak LLC was in charge of crab, and Icicle was in charge of the cod purchasing." (This in the same plant.) However, Solberg said in a deposition that he was there for the cod, which he was familiar with, and which was very valuable in Norway, and that Ben had suggested buying king crab. Ben has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to represent crab groups, and when the press questioned Ted about Ben's substantial fees and whether they reflected access to his father, Ted said no, Ben is an expert on crab. Now suddenly the Norweigian cod guy is there for the crab, and our big crab expert is doing the cod?

Normally, lying to investigators is a bigger crime than the fraud. So what happened? Icicle and Adak LLC got fined $3,400,000 - less than a dollar a pound. No criminal charges of any kind. No mention of Ben Stevens. What kind of cover up is this? I can tell you from personal experience that this is some very special treatment. I also heard that several of NOOA cops were shocked when ordered to drop 43 counts of criminal conduct against the group, along with a $20,000,000 fine.

How does this story end? Ben gets an increased bonus from the group, Icicle sells back their stock to Solberg for $4,300,000 in June of 2004. Then Icicle starts getting more "grant" money from AFMB - since the AFMB refuses to report to whom they have granted the $29,000,000 spent so far, we can only guess. I have heard rumors that most of the money went to Trident, Icicle, and HighlandLite/Yardarm Knot.

At the start of 1998 there were about a dozen companies processing 2.4 billion pounds of pollock annually in the Bering Sea, which was the capped amount, and everyone agreed the resource was in great shape, as it still is today. In round numbers this is about $1,500,000,000 a year. I will say that again: 1.5 Billion dollars a year. This is huge compared to the crab stocks, now or back at their highest level. Today under AFA 50% of the resource is set aside for three shore-based companies: Maruha, Nippon Suisan and Trident.

AFA granted to Trident a share of the resource valued at over $300,000,000 a year, without free market competition. Is that not the best gift ever? Three hundred million a year. This new special set-aside makes shore-based plants look great. Too bad the current EPA laws have stopped any new plants in Alaska since Maruha's Westward Seafoods in 1990. What would a site for a pollock processing plant be worth now?

Because of Trident's efforts in the 1980s to push out all other processors around Akutan Bay*, the ability to get a permit to build a shore-based plant anywhere was nearly impossible. This left no choice but to build or buy a large catcher/processor vessel if you want to process pollock. In 1987 this was legal, as was selling to foreign factory ships (who had the right to process only, not to catch) and there was a large fleet [about 100] of smaller mostly family-owned catcher boats, many of which had been converted from crabbers. Trident and Tyson Seafoods started a huge lobbying effort to stop these groups of fisherman that were getting together, pooling resources and buying some of these large boats to process their catches. Remember that is how Chuck got started and he clearly does not want any kind of competition.

Once again Ted jumped into action to close this "terrible loophole" so no longer could fishermen buy or convert these large boats, except this bill (Anti-Reflagging Act, 1987) was so poorly written (like many of Ted's bills) that with a "now or never" deadline looming, more of these big projects went forward in a rush than should have. By 1990 no new offshore ships were added to this fleet and by 1996 some of the ships that were hurridly re-designed or poorly capitalized started having problems. While the independent offshore fleet was shrinking, Trident, Maruha and Nippon Suisan were rapidly increasing the size of the pollock plants, and promising part of their shore-based market to the smaller family-owned catcher boats in order to keep them quiet about losing the offshore markets through this Act. Instead they built a number of very large RSW catcher boats which was the nail in the coffin for the independents. So this Act, which was really to help Trident shore-based, greatly helped the other 2 Japanese shore-based operations as a by-product - that's the irony, every time Ted helps Chuck, it also helps these huge Japaneses conglomerates (who controlled 70% of the inshore pollock.) Because pollock was already split into an onshore and offshore quota pool, this new, expanded inshore fleet started making quick work of the onshore quota and the fishing days dropped from 148 days to only 74 days (1997) while the total Bering Sea offshore factory processing declined from a high of 65% to 48% in 1996.

So these are the facts, but Chuck might lose money if his days keep dropping, so back to Washington to see Uncle Ted, and guess what? Offshore factory ships were to blame, they must be catching fish that should be Chuck's, it was all their fault, so those evil Norwegians (owners of the biggest factory ships) must go (see ADN headlines from 1998). Ted gets Congressman Young, Chair of Transportation, to hold hearings on this problem of too many factory ships, saying "we must punish these speculators." (One good response was this testimony: "It is now being speculated that speculation occurred." And Ted's response: "Those guys should have read the intent of my (Anti Re-flagging) bill instead of reading the words as written". (!)

Somehow these offshore guys (primarily Norwegian), were bad, and shorebased guys (primarily Japanese, plus Chuck's Trident) were good. Now of course this makes shorebased plants a very safe place, too bad Ben does not have one, oh wait a minute now he does, the $3 Billion Adak Navy base (built at taxpayers expense).

It does not seem to bother Ted that for each extra dollar that is manipulated in Chuck's direction (at the expense of every indepedent fisherman that is deserted or forced to sell out) the Japanense get two.

So what happened after this dog and pony show to punish "speculators"? Ted gets an invited-only group into his office (the war room), walks in, looks at everyone and says "10% of Bering Sea pollock goes to CDQ, I want 50% of the remaing quota to go to shorebased, and I don't care what you do with the rest." This group drafts the AFA. Trevor McCabe, Ted's head fish guy, agrees with Mike Hyde (President of American Seafoods, Norwegian owned) to a federal/industry buyback of 8 of American Seafoods' smaller factory ships for $80,000,000.

The offshore fleet was split into 10% of the quota for the mother factory ships and 40 % for the catcher/processor factory ships, of which American Seafoods had several. Now this buyback deal was pretty good, so Mike Hyde, in later meetings with Trevor McCabe (October 1998), got an agreement to add another American Seafoods ship to the buyback agreement for another $10,000,000. AS didn't yet own this boat to be bought back, they simply had an option to buy Factory Ship Browns Point for $2Million, a very good deal since they did not have to put up any real money, and they had a guaranteed sale for $10 Million (all of which Trevor McCabe knew.) I wonder where that last minute, extra $8Million went? Shortly thereafter Trevor McCabe left Ted Stevens' office to go to work for - guess who? The off-shore lobbying group At-Sea Processors. Who are the real speculators?

I guess Ted showed how smart he was in punishing American Seafoods by buying up the junk boats, letting the other boats in their fleet get the quota from the scrapped boats, and giving them $90 Million -and I guess he doesn't have a problem with Trevor's good luck getting a job for the group after orchestrating this deal. I guess it's fair that American Seafoods now flies Ted Stevens' relatives around in their 737 private jet.

Talk about punishing speculators - how about the speculators that brought national scorn to Alaska when it was found out that relatives and former staff members had been buying up land where the "bridges to nowhere" were to be built? These speculators - Art Neslon (Don Young's son in law), Trevor McCabe, Mike Hyde, Al Chaffee (Highland Light&Yardarm Knot, one of the biggest winners in Crab Ratz), make quite an interesting partnership, or how about Trevor's sweetheart deal at the Seward Sealife Center that is getting huge free money both from Ted's federal grants and also from Trevor and Ben's own funny money AFMB. Trevor McCabe's no-bid contract to supply the charter boat to federally funded Seward Sealife Center is a "can't lose" - as anybody knows.

Part 3 (coming soon to a blog near you): how to give your son a really big Navy base and lots of free fish, or if he screws that up, Plan B: How to earmark hundreds of millions to the Navy and order them to lease that same base back from Ben.

*{After doing things like getting laws changed for cargo ships to probated offloading floating processors, getting EPA to grandfather only [Trident] waste discharge water. The very best was making the last company, Deep Sea fisheries, prove with costly studies, that the grass on the hillside would not be damaged from air exhaust from adding another shore based genset. How could anyone think killing the grass on a hillside, in one of the windiest places in the world, that every 10 years or so has a volcano shoot ash and spray rocks down, could be a reason not to get a permit to processes fish. So in 1989 a permit would take years and millions of dollars, with no guarantee of getting one}.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Blog the truth and the truth shall set you free

Dear Mr. Enge:
I was told a recent article you published stated that Madeleine, my deceased wife, was Governor Murkowski's daughter and that my children refer to him as grandpa. Just so you know, Madeleine was not related

I was a zealous company man once. Me and this pile of pop-weed cleaned up a bunker C spill at a cannery one time. (That's the Davis row-boat dad bought for us in the '50s.)

to the Governor or Mrs. Murkowski. My father and her father were both active with our children and they referred to my Dad as grandpa. (He passed away in 2004. ) They still refer to Madeleine's father as "Papa Gary." My children have only met the Governor a few times and have never referred to the Governor as grandpa.
Joe Plesha

Joe, my apologies, and I'm sure the reader's too, who sent me the article. Thanks for the correction. If you don't recognize Joe's name you should. His business card says "Second Most Powerful Person in the Seafood Business." Just kidding about it being on his business card. I don't technically publish in AlaskaReport, just to my blog, AlaskaCafe. But the whole reason I do blog now is like "Deep Throat" said to Larry King last night, "to show the minuses and pluses." He was trying to save the FBI. I'm trying to save the fishing community.

The other thing I am a stickler for is accuracy. Necessarily, I have to forge ahead, use strong similies and words and hope most of it is accurate. So far I've only had three people correct me out of 200 or so posts, and one was by a reader who corrected me on my use of the word "irregardless." This is going to work as long as readers send information and as long as others check for the accuracy of that information. So far, so good.

Unfortunately, I have to describe another minus, that may be a continuing problem. That is, at least one State employee is using his position to villify us columnists on AlaskaReport for telling the truth. Of course, he doesn't see it as telling the truth, just as getting in the way. Who's way, I wonder? Eventually anyone in the fishing business who doesn't love the truth will stumble and fall over the truth in this new paridigm, and there won't be much remedy for them. And it sure isn't about me. It's about why blogging was predicted by Business Week magazine to become more important than the Guttenberg Press. Freedom.

Queen Elizabeth I said, "The bane of a Monarch is the overzealous subject." That's why Murkowski's ratings are in the toilet these days, besides his own work, his people are a little too zealous for the rest of us. In the fisheries realm, one of these "subjects" is ADF&G Commish. Campbell, who was trying to ram Gulf ratz down the throats of Gulf communities and fishermen.

Another is Bruce Schactler, who was appointed to run a cargo shipment tracking project. He had been in Kodiak leading United Seiners Association efforts to wrangel higher prices from processors. (He had forced out the Chairman so he could run it himself.) (USA instantly went from a RSDA prototype to a glorified "bitching about prices" organization.) I know this because I gave Bruce's predecessor at USA the blueprint for the prototype in the early '90s and heard how he ditched the whole original idea that they agreed on in Ballard.

Well, Kodiak is finally rid of him, but now Murkowski will have to suffer. The product tracking device was already developed by the manufacturer, so he shouldn't wreck that. But by villifying us, he villifies by association, the tens of thousands of readers we have who are trying to make sense of the seafood industry, and especially Kodiak readers who were our earliest contributors.

What are we supposed to think when we are villified? That "the people suffer when the King is evil?" Or maybe, "rejoice when they persecute you for (the truth's) sake?" "Deep Throat" didn't reveal his identity until he was 92 years old, and at this rate, I don't blame my correspondents for not coming out either.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

More crab rats hunting stories

When received the following e-mail I thought, "Can you throw politicians out before their term is up?" You'll be wondering the same thing after reading it.

This old sardine seiner was the kind of boat that helped start the Alaska king crab fishery.

If you're an independent GOA groundfish fisherman or GOA community leader or businessman, you'll want to get them before they get you. And if you were a Bering Sea crab fisherman who got their crab stolen by the processors, you'll want to throw these crab rats out and get your crab back. And if you were an Alaskan fisherman who thought about upgrading and going after pollock, but saw it all given to Japanese executives and Chuck Bundrant, you might want to join in.

All natural rights of human beings are in the Constitution of the United States, and "rationalization" flies in the face of these rights. The reader's e-mail on the American Fisheries Act and Crab "Rationalization" follows and if it isn't a call to action, I don't know what is.

"John, the American Fisheries Act should be called the Non-Alaskan Fisheries Act (80% of all fish and crab are now harvested by non-Alaskans.) First I will show what a terrible bargain with the devil this Act is for Alaskans, then a little history of the how and why.

Through AFA, Stevens displayed his ability to carve out huge windfalls for specific companies. This time, he didn't bother with the window dressing of false problems and hearings to solve them, he simply earmarked Crab Ratz with no related hearings. The industry by now was used to special interest groups running back to Stevens to change laws to their advantage. The king of this process was Trident's Chuck Bundrant, who had a long history of regulating competition out of business.

This was to then dovetail seamlessly into a quick grab of Gulf of Alaska's last open resource by the same companies who benefitted from AFA (Gulf Rationalization). There is already a limit on the boats through the LLP process, so the resource is not at risk - this bill is meant to permantly give the resource to a handful of named beneficiaries, rather than letting the best (permitted) fishermen win, in keeping with Alaska's independent, competitive history(not to mention the free enterprise system that all immigrants come to America for, has this changed?).

Here's how it works: first you have your partner, Bart Eaton, hire Ted Stevens' son Ben to work on his crab boat, the Amatuli. Then you hire as general counsel the other Senator's chief of staff Joe Plesha, married with children to Murkowski's daughter (sadly, now deceased). Chuck could not have chosen a better lobbyist than Joe, who's children call the current govenor Grandpa. Plesha almost always starts testimony with "Trident has never declared a dividend for its shareholders, instead reinvesting its earnings back in the seafood processing industry." This statement leaves out the $42,000,000 French jet, the yacht, the island house in the San Juans, nor does it mention the size of the salary Chuck and his son Joe take from Trident Seafoods.

Then you stack the North Pacific Council with employees, both directly and indirectly, so the story from Fisheries Management matches the pitch you make back in D.C. You (and other like minded oligarchs) form a group of processors and call it the North Pacific Crab Association (NPCA), which sounds like a fisherman's group, through which you fund Crab Ratz lobbying efforts. Interestingly, the address for NPCA is 4335 Leary Way NW Seattle,WA 98107 - if you go there you will find a Superior Tire shop, but no sign of this "fisherman's group".

NPCA then starts funding Ben Stevens and his partner Trevor McCabe (another former staffer of Ben's father) through consulting fees, and it becomes a perpetual motion machine: Ted Stevens creates funding for everyone involved by taking money from taxpayers, allotting it to a new entity he creates called Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board (as opposed to the already existing Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute), appointing his son Ben and Trevor to the AFMB board, who then proceed to give out "grant" money to members such as Trident, etc, who then give lobbying fees back through various entities like their own NPCA, with it's CEO, John Garner, who is also in Trident's employ.

(Note that Garner, one of the leading proponents of Crab Ratz, sold his company, Norquest Seafoods, to Trident immediately after Crab Ratz was passed.) This is neat, but just the beginning, as Ted Stevens makes up another new entity called North Pacific Research Board (NPRB). It is funded by government through even more devious means; it gets the interest off a huge pile of money sitting in limbo stemming from a dispute between the State of Alaska and the Federal government regarding offshore oil leasing income. This new group gives away grants of up to millions of dollars to whomever they want - including Universities and members of the scientific community who might otherwise offer opinions opposing Crab Ratz. Now pack this board with employees like the last one and there is no one to say anything about the crazy lack of reason around giving away the fish and crab to a couple of large Japanese companies and Trident.

Icicle Seafoods, having been left out of most of the giveaway of the Bering Sea, began to complain and threatened to slow down Crab Ratz, so our group swung into action using tried and true methods. Ben, who is on the payroll as president of Adak Fisheries LLC, is also on the payroll as Secretary, Treasurer and Board Member of Aleut Enterprise LLC (a subsidiary of Aleut Corporation), a conflict of interest he did not disclose. He votes to transfer 70% of Aleut's rights to any future pollock quota to Adak, then Ben's father Ted just removes pollock from the AFA (pollock - who can complain?) and gives it to Aleut Corp.

Note that Ben had a "secret option" to purchase 25% of Adak Fisheries LLC, which was only revealed as a result of a court battle, and note also that Ben, who is clearly double-dealing Aleut Corp., would never be challenged by Aleut Corp., who is sitting on a naval base given them by Ted Stevens, as well as a fish quota also granted by Ted.

Now you can't lose money with a quota of 29,000 tons of pollock for free, hell they could lease that fish for $400 a ton in the water. Icicle now gets its turn and buys 50% of Adak Fisheries for $500,000. Ben gets more bonuses, and later Ben rewards Icicle seafoods with free "grant" money from Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board.
I would think this group would be under investigation for RICO, Sherman and Clayton Acts violations at the least, but Ben is the head of ethics for the Alaska Senate. I cannot begin to imagine the State Troopers arresting one of the Stevenses. Standing policy for Chief Federal Prosecutor is that the President submits names of his choices for the office to the Senator (assuming they are the same party), which means Ted Stevens got to approve President Bush's pick for Alaska's Chief Federal Prosecutor - what are the chances she is going to start a career-ending investigation?
Meanwhile if a fisherman has an error on his fish tickets he could go to jail after getting the crap fined out of him."

Friday, April 21, 2006

Confused about RSDAs? Vol. I

"We told them that could not be done, because fisheries groups do not get along that well. Fisheries(DFO) responded by saying that would force them to close ground fishing altogether while they came up with a plan, says Mose, and that motivated the fishermen to find a compromise."

I took this picture of my black cod tender in Squid Bay when I was running a plant in Juneau. A half hour after I took this picture, Ole Nelson was telling me about how he saw my father's brother perish when his warplane crashed in Gastineau Channel during WWII.

This is a snippet from an article from B.C. on rockfish catch reporting, but it may as well be from Alaska, and it points out a problem that stands in the way of all good fisheries initiatives in the State. Fishermen in one family don't work together (been there, done that), much less work together within their gear group or with other gear groups. But, as Sen. Lisa Murkowski said, the main benefit of the Regional Seafood Development Organizations is that they will get fishermen to work together.

How true that is. That's why I started working on this concept 15 years ago; wrote the first White Paper, saw it used (and abused) to write the first Bill to allow for it's funding, promoted it at great expense to myself over the years, and only saw more reason for it to go forward all the time. Media reports lately have quoted a naysayer or two. These kind of guys complain that the water is too calm, driving the fish down, and complain when it's too choppy because it jerks the fish loose from the gillnet. They complain about most everything, except people that don't work together for a common good.

Hunting and gathering kinda makes you this way. Not that it's any kind of good excuse. To be successful at fishing you have to have this grim determination that is not all that compatible with being an astute businessman. That's why fishermen have left the business end up the the processors all this time.

The problem now, is that processors are consolidating faster and faster. There used to be ten times the number of packing plants operating as there are now. This consolidation costs them money, money that could be used to pay fishermen more. Yachts and jets and ranches are being purchased with money that could be used to pay the fishermen more. Profits are sent overseas in abusive transfer pricing schemes to dodge taxes and show low profits to justify paying the fishermen less.

But if fishermen don't have a business association to look out for their business interests, they fall prey to all kinds of schemes to let them just eek out a living and even thin out their ranks. Until the RSDAs came along, there were very few business associations. There had been some, like the Southeast Gillnetters Co-op that ran their fish to Seattle for processing. But the many dozens of fishermen's groups in Alaska are trade associations that focus on allocation issues almost exclusively.

Some groups like UFA, claim to represent many of these trade associations, but don't get involved in the nuts and bolts of helping find solutions to business problems. (That group is controlled by a small group of S.E. limit seiners who worked to lock fishermen into selling to specific processors, and further, to thin out their ranks by various means. Neither are good business strategies for fishermen in a region as is obvious.)

I've been a fan of the RSDA concept since our bank (CFAB) brought a past Executive Director of Florida Citrus Mutual to Anchorage to speak on their experience with the concept in Florida. Of course they got hip to the idea over 70 years ago now. The orange growers had the same problems the Alaska fishermen have; processors who won't improve on processing technology, and marketing strategies that weren't putting more money in their pockets. They got State backing, formed an Association, and developed the technology and marketing to send oranges all over the place at a tidy profit. (The almond growers did this too, and their almond meat prices jumped from 3 cents a pound to 37 cents a pound.)

So, why would a gillnetter in Southeast Alaska say "he doesn't think it will work," or "I don't see how my money is going to help raise fish prices"? Just lack of knowledge. I've heard one past S.E. Gillnetters president say he doesn't think fishermen have computers. Well, we know many do, but many don't either, and that's where the naysayers come from. Thank God it's only going to take a few smart fishermen to get the ball rolling.

RSDAs will get going sooner or later. Hopefully it will be sooner. Later will mean much fewer boats, and maybe the total absence of the gillnet fleet in Southeast. The state sanctioned RSDA for S.E. has an office in Wrangell at the moment. It could be moved anywhere, it could be a moving office, or even operate from an Earth orbiter. The gentleman from Florida said the whole thing is about control. This is not a word for the timid, considering that's the last thing the processors want to hear.

But fishermen need their own organization, run by themselves, to represent their business interests and even the processors acknowledge that. Processors may not like it, but they acknowledge the fact. So fishermen should too, then get together and RUN THEIR OWN SHOW, and if they need help, they should get over their shyness and ask the teacher for help.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Hunting the wily crab rats

The italicized piece that follows, was certainly written in emotional response to a comment made by a lobbyist that seems to have the ear of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council.

This picture I took at the Boardwalk in Cape May, NJ, the heart of the U.S. clam industry, reminded me of the circus the NPFMC is getting to be.

I can understand fully the frustration (to put it mildly) of fishermen that have spent decades fighting the weather, mechanical breakdowns and human endurance limitations just to see someone that used to be an aide to powerful congressmen trump their testimony.

At issue here is John Iani saying that consolidation of processors is a figment of your imagination. I haven't been out to Westward as much as this fisherman has, to see these processors shut their doors or sail off, not to return again. I'm just going to reprint his communication and if you are one of these "Westward" processors, and are still processing, my apologies in advance.

These guys that are trying to ram rationalization down the throats of the U.S. public are starting to implode if you ask me. On this consolidation issue alone, the Darth Vader of fisheries economists said there WOULD be consolidation of processors and fishermen to get to a "core of efficiency." Now that consolidation has come about, with the much more efficient siphoning off of capital to Japan, we are being told that there is no consolidation? He's only saying that because everyone is turning on them and putting these "crab ratz" in their crosshairs. And at this rate the American Fisheries Act might get washed away in the flood of public revulsion and official inquiry too.

Here is a list of some of the fish plants that are now extinct:
Barge Unisea-GONE
East Point-GONE
San Soucci seafoods-GONE
F/P Robert e Resoff-GONE
M/V Sea Alaska-GONE
Vita Barge-GONE
M/V Viceroy-GONE
M/V Galaxy-GONE
Pacific Pearl-GONE
Northern Victor-GONE
M/V Atrctic Enterprise [several boats]GONE
Deep Sea fisheries-GONE
M/V Akutan-GONE
M/V Western Sea-GONE
Iclcle Barges-GONE

Who is left now?
Alyeska & Westward plus all their boats are owned by Maruha Corp. - this 100% Japanese company owns 28.4% of pollock and 17.5% of the Bering Sea king and tanner crab.
Unisea is owned by Nippon Suisan, and when you call Royal Aleutain for a crab market, you are told to call Unisea. 23.7% of Bering Sea crab. Peter Pan (Nichiro Corp) 19% of the Bering Sea crab.

Trident is it. 26.95% of Bering Sea crab. I guess it will end up like Washington, Oregon and California where one man owns every single plant. Just think what would happen if you were a fisherman who pissed him off.
What upside down thinking makes the State of Alaska give away 60% of the Bering Sea pollock to 100% Japanese-owned companies?

This is about a billion dollars every year, forever. It makes oil look pale, as you only sell it once. Just think, every year, forever and ever. The majority of the Bering Sea's pollock and crab renewable resources are going in a box over to Japan. Why? In what kind of economic model does this make sense? Why would anyone in State goverment want to do this (repeat the Bering Sea experience) to the independent men and women of Kodiak and Gulf of Alaska? It is no wonder that the highest % of guys who sold out forever, to the Crab Buyback Program, were from Sand Point/King Cove Area. With the plant closures, they were already reduced to one market.

John, people have called me and said that at this last North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (meeting), John Iani claims there has not been any recent consolidation of processors. I guess if you are a lying lawyer lobbyist (LLL) you can claim that when a large company buys all the assets of a smaller company, controls it, and keeps the name, then it is not consolidated.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Political strategist as fisheries manager?

"Its time to shine a bright light into the shady backrooms where the Bush Administration has been making politically motivated decisions about the management of the Klamath," Thompson said.

There will be virtually no commercial salmon fishing this year off the coast of Oregon and N. Calif.

"These politically motivated decisions are directly responsible for the poor condition of the Klamath and the near loss of this years salmon season."

This article from the Fort Bragg, CA newspaper points to the same thing folks are talking about in Alaska. Ie., the shady dealings of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council and their Washington D.C. cheerleaders, or vice versa. Radical actions by politicians, (turning off the water to the Klamath River, giving the cod and crab in Alaska to big business), does accomplish their political agenda, whatever that is. But it sure raises heck with the local economies.

The Klamath may have a little more water this year judging by the snow pack on the volcanic peak, Mt. McGloughlin, out my front window. And now it seems the Bush administration is softening it's stance on removing the private dams on Klamath River tributaries. Karl Rove to Bush: "We gotta fix that river I killed off a couple of years ago."

This may be why Senator Stevens is so against the Pebble mine out in sockeye country in Bristol Bay. What a legacy to leave otherwise. Ben to another schoolyard bully, "Yeah, my dad was the one that killed all the salmon in Bristol Bay by allowing those Canadian miners in."

You just don't know what can happen where fish is concerned. I'm sure Karl Rove would like to turn the water back on in 2002 if he could. How could he know that salmon need cool, parasite free water to live? He lives back East where they killed off the salmon a long time ago. Salmon grow in supermarkets, right? What political strategist gave all the fish and crab in the Bering Sea away to the Japanese?

This debacle in the Bering Sea might have gone mostly unnoticed up until now, the Year of the Blogger. I would rather call it the Year of the Crab to honor the 900 crab skippers and crew who lost their jobs this winter. But the last 12 months has really allowed straight-shooting bloggers to put the heat on junk legislation. I saw a blogger on Fox News the other night. Seems everyone is reading him on the immigration issue.

Momentarily, someone doing a Google search in Trondheim or New Bedford for "Abusive Transfer Pricing" or "Forced Co-operative Participation" will get results on North Korea, Cuba and the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council. Nobody else is going to invest a dime in Alaska fisheries as long as this kind of thing is going on.

You might wonder, "how can this happen in this day and age?" Ask the grumpy old men that are most of Alaska's congressional delegation. And while you're at it, call the Governor too. Send the message that we fought the Vietnam, Korean and Cold Wars to prevent Forced Co-operative Participation in the world, and now we find it right in our own country? Doesn't anyone think Vets read. A plain english message for the spin doctors: THIS IS BAD FOR REPUBLICANS. (To be fair, Democratic Alaska Governors went along with it too.) "But Officer, all that gold looked so shiny."

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Fishery Councils should stick with resource management

"Science is only one part of the equation," Piavis said. "Who gets the fish . . . is a whole other equation."

A sweet set-up on the Yukon River. Our low-man-on-the-totem pole gubernatorial candidate has spent the last 18 years running speed boats on an Interior river.

I don't think anyone intended for the system of Regional Federal Fishery Management Councils to be the economic adjudicators of the sea coasts. There is no liason with the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the States' Departments of Economic Development, the States' Chamber of Commerces, Municipal Leagues, County and Borough Governments, City Economic Development Offices, etc.

But the Councils are now making do or die decisions regarding the economic welfare of the sea ports, and hence the welfare of Coastal United States. And in the case of the North Pacific Council, those decisions lean hard in favor of large scale foreign commercial interests. The rest are interests from the next state over. And since they could, these interests dominate the actual make-up of the Council through direct and indirect hire, policical influence and good 'ol brow-beating.

These Councils are appointed under the Magnuson-Stevens Act for their experience in the industry, and it matters not that they have put their allegiences on the shelf. Although I heard that at the last Council meeting in Anchorage, some folks made the Council repeat the Pledge of Allegiance [to the Flag of the Unites States of America.]

The first allegience to go by the wayside is to the economic welfare of small Coastal Communities. There are complicating factors such as some coastal communities swimming cross-current to other communities. Communities are fighting each other for no other reason than there is becoming a climate in Federal fisheries management of everyone trying to grab as much as they can. This grab-fest started when allocations of living resources were deeded to the foreign owners of the piles of steel and concrete on Alaska's coasts.

Nobody will ever get as much as the Japanese-owned bottomfish and crab plants already have received. So, it's hire the most lobbyists you can afford and go fishing at the Council. The Magnuson-Stevens Act, and Sen. Stevens getting conflict-of-interest thrown out, has set the stage for utter chaos. I was reminded of this by reading about the new oil tax structure Murkowski proposed. There would be no clear number to attach a tax TO.

Remember those old "Spy vs Spy" cartoons in the "Sunday funnies" during the Cold War? That's what it's like in the fishing industry, and that's what it looks like for the oil industry. Future public servants in Alaska can look forward to a life of the most bitter fights you can imagine if the fishing industry is any indication. How can we expect young people to be interested in working for major corporate players either, that are globally adroit, but socially challenged.

If the Marine Advisory Program in the U.S. was smart, it would offer training in corporate ethics in the seafood business, instead of trying to get kids to "fit in." What's that going to get us? And if somebody was smart, they would make Regional Fisheries Management Councilors recuse themselves when there is a conflict of interest. It's a bad law that allows special interests to deal themselves in for hundreds of millions of dollars out of the economies of coastal communities. But public pressure can change that. And we wonder why other countries don't respect our government and do things that only hurts the public. They are getting their pay check.

One thing the NPFMC has going for it is that it doesn't tell their Scientific and Statistical Committee to take their science and shove it like they do on the East Coast. (The Japanese do know their fish biology.) But the same special interests dominate the Advisory Panel too, so what original advice could they possibly have?

The new Governor in Alaska will be able to demonstrate a love for Alaskans over Japanese and Seattle business tycoons. Most media just plays the game and sure didn't get it right with Murkowski. We promise to get to the bottom of things before the race this fall. We know one thing, the guy that had to take cues to say "no" to ratz in Kodiak and the Goober debates is "out." And, that's NOT the rest of the story.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Everything you wanted to know about True World Foods in Kodiak

"On a mission from their leader, five young men arrived in Chicago to open a little fish shop on Elston Avenue. Back then, in 1980, people of their faith were castigated as "Moonies" and called cult members.

The Unification Church bought this house in Anchorage to indoctrinate seafood processing plant workers.

Yet the Japanese and American friends worked grueling hours and slept in a communal apartment as they slowly built the foundation of a commercial empire."

Now the vision of Rev. Moon to feed the world has pretty much been given up on, but not the building of a seafood empire. I won't repeat what this in-depth Chicago Tribune article already covers. I do have some further information on this organization that I've never seen anywhere.

It has to do with this house I used to go over to in Anchorage a lot. It's an impressive three stories, (maybe 9,000 sq. ft.), has a full shop that could overhaul a Mack truck, and a five acre lawn. Well, the folks I knew put it on the market and it sold to the Unification Church for over $900,000. The new owners were going to use it to indoctrinate workers before they went out to their plant in Kodiak, and one in Bristol Bay I heard later.

The business reason for this purchase was sound, I suppose. If you could talk your workers into giving back 90% of their wages to the Church, then the investment would pay for itself. And even piling on Rev. Moon's "worship me" doctrine on top of that doesn't matter a pile of peas.(Although I've seen the odd look in the eyes of a "company man" for another prominent seafood company, that starts with a "T" when saying "it's all about the man in the corner office.) But not paying fishermen matters to me.

Kodiak seiners went out for roe herring one spring without any sort of agreement with True World Foods, not even the common practice of the plant posting a price of one dollar as a starting point. After they delivered their catch and wanted some money for them, the company just thanked them for being so generous in donating their catches. Maybe the guy that runs True World Foods from Chicago headquarters, (he's of Japanese descent) went back into his office and shouted "Howtadoya."

The Washington D.C. contingent early on pushed the idea of locking fishermen to a particular processing plant. I sure wouldn't want to have a "forced linkage" to True World Foods. You wouldn't know if you'd ever get paid.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

"Rising Sun," "Spirit Bear"

Alaska Rule of Evidence 608(b) reads: "If a witness testifies concerning the character for truthfulness or untruthfulness of a previous witness, the specific instances of conduct probative of the truthfulness or untruthfulness of the previous witness, may be inquired into on cross-examination."

It could be the sunset for the fishing industry as we've known it too.

There is some talk of taking the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council to task for untruthfulness and "character of witness," not to mention "abuse of discretion." The members of the Council are appointed based on their knowledge of the industry, therefore they are witnesses. They also happen to be jury and judge, quite a nifty little arrangement if they are all in one club. Maybe conflict of interest can be legislated out of the Council process, but not character and truthfulness.

Talk about serving two masters! It just isn't working, serving the big processors and the public too. Well, I should say it works pretty well for a tiny fraction of the human beings involved in the industry. And I'm not sure if you can call Japanese executives in Tokyo, involved.

Under the current governor of Alaska and it's Congressional delegation, excepting maybe one, the State and it's people are being subjected to modern feudalism. This is why some researchers are preparing to revisit the circumstances that led up to the American Fisheries Act, that gave away the pollock, and the crab rationalization plan that gave the king crab to these same people.

So they make billions of dollars by getting the raw product free and in other cases at anit-competitive prices. Then they squeeze out more fishermen, and ratchet down the wages for processing work so only recent immigrants will take the work. This is why another idea that keeps getting tossed out would be such a shocker, make a movie about it. One version of it starts out in Tokyo. It would be a cross between "Rising Sun," with Sean Connery, and "Spirit Bear."

The plot of "Spirit Bear" had a high schooler mobilizing teens all over to protest clear-cutting the home of about 600 blue phase black bears in British Columbia. About now I wouldn't care if they did lock up the Bering Sea for the most part. Is there an analogy to oil here? There's some short term construction dollars in building plants, then that's the last of much of any benefit to the State. It's like the resource never even existed. It get's put on American President Lines ships in Dutch Harbor as soon as it's stabilized for shipping. Maybe that's why they want the Gulf resources so bad too; they can slip it out of the state through Dutch without much public notice. When's the last time you saw a news article from Dutch Harbor?

The Unalaskans are used to all this by now, but it looks different when you add all the pieces of the puzzle together. And you don't get it from just one vantage point. This is the kind of thing the big processors count on. That and keeping quiet.

Monday, April 10, 2006

A reader's lament over lost opportunities in the fisheries

"Good old Days that I Remember"
"All the boat harbours were stacked full of different types of boats, from tenders, newly designed crab boats, seiners, gillneters, longliners, southern shrimpers, dungeness only, shrimp pot guys, shrimp beam trawlers, a hand full of scallopers, and a few new boats trying to make a go of bottomfish.

Roe herring processing like this used to be done in the Alaska plants, but that work went overseas a long time ago.

From Kechikan to Dutch, people would talk about new ideas on gear and boats, and "what are you going to fish for this winter?" "Hey, would you bring some gear of mine out to Sand Point? Sure, can you store some of my pots over in King Cove?""

"I thought all the small towns up and down the Alaska coast were great places to stop when we had time. People were full of hope for the future, I cannot remember one person saying "I am real sorry, I have all these companies to sell to." Akutan had half a dozen floaters in the bay, Dutch had a bunch of guys trying to line up more boats; same with Kodaik. Homer had 3 big outfits, plus smaller companies along Cook Inlet's road system."

"Seldovia was a great place to get out of nasty weather and pick up bait, get a drink. Now, as these giant companies buy up the little guys, what happens to Sand Point? Seldovia? Chignik? Homer? This reduces Alaska greatly, as the normal give and take around these small towns gets reduced to the goals of the big company. [Trident]"

"What happens to the young people? They can't buy a boat because Trident owns the quota. They can't even go and buy some fish off the boat, it's against the law. Trident wouldn't sell any anyway. They can't go to the city council because the leaders are already hand picked by Trident. I guess they could go stand in the processing plant for less than minimum wage, but with Trident's workforce being the highest non-Alaskan workforce in Alaska, at 85% nonresident, I guess this might be less than exciting."

"The non-Alaskan workforce obviously impacts a small town greatly, and when the workers realize that the benefits are not what they had expected, it's far too expensive for them to leave. Not a good situation for anyone. Look at Akutan now, it has just one plant (Trident). King Cove looks like a ghost town. Trident shut down the Sand Point plant as well as Chignik. Homer now has a little trucking operation. Seldovia's plant is gone. Seward has just one plant. Kodiak is all that is left for any of the smaller independents, with only a couple of plants left."

"How could any Alaskan be proud of what's happened to us. What happened to the great diversity, the opportunities both in fisheries and towns. By allowing this enormous consolidation and control of the fisheries by a few corporations, Alaskans have lost the opportunity for the next generation of Alaskans to meaningfully participate in the fishing industry. I think that is a great loss."

It IS a great loss, my friend, and I remember those days too. It was right after limited entry in the salmon fisheries and the company owned fleets of gillnetters and seiners had to be sold to individual fishermen. Two of the biggest fleet owners, New England Fish Co. and Whitney-Fidalgo Seafoods, couldn't cope with the need to operate efficiently with their new-found lack of control over the skippers. They quickly went bust.

The new breed of processors are a lot smarter and are jerking the stars into alignment to control the fishermen once again for the last pound of flesh they can get from the resource . Many are shrewd Japanese seafood businessmen. Man, I thought Israelis were shrewd, these guys have been at this for a LONG time. A Japanese missionary to the U.S. told me that Haleluliah in Japanese is pronounced "howtadoya."

I know that some of Trident's staff worship their leader for seeking control of the fisheries on behalf of a U.S. company instead of Japanese companies. But do they close their eyes to his efforts to squash other U.S. businessmen, like those poor guys in Sand Point who just wanted to make a few extra dollars to buy a vacation off the rock by flying some cod out. That ought ta tell ya what a Trident/Ocean Beauty merger might mean.

Here's a little more information on the ownership structure of Bering Sea processors: "Nippon Suisan (USA) was established in 1974 as the holding and supervising company for all Nissui group companies in North America. That portfolio currently consists of Unisea, Inc. and Alaska Ocean, who harvest and processAlaska seafood resources; and Gorton's, King & Prince, and Fishking, who manufacture and distribute frozen fish and shrimp products in the retail and foodservice seafood channels." Can't get any more vertically integrated than that: from seabed to buffet line. They own the fish even as it is growing up in the Bering Sea. So if you're jigging out there you'll have to throw back most of 'em, cuz most have a rising sun on the adipose fin.

Friday, April 07, 2006

"Reader Weekend," on processors, et. al.

Here's two e-mails that were sent to me that seem to be in the same vein. And the message is that Fisheries Management doesn't correspond to NOAA's mission of supporting the vitality of communities.

Sea lions started showing up on Horn Cliffs, by Petersburg, after the Marine Mammals Protection Act passed.

"Kodiak Watch Out, Here Comes Irrational Ration Plan; From the same group that got the American Fisheries Act implemented."
"Why does Chuck's Trident Seafoods, which owns dozens of boats outright, or in his son's name (gets around anti-trust fish caps), need to be protected from a handful of independent fishermen? If you read his web site, he was the original Pioneer of the Crab industry.(Wakefield really was) If that is true would not 30 years of fishing, processing and buying crab have paid for the equipment needed to boil up some crab? Since he used his profits from crab to go into Bottomfish/Pollock, for which you do need some real equipment, and now has well over one billion dollars in sales and has his vast Pollock Quota protected by AFA [American Fisheries Act], why the strong push into the Gulf of Alaska?"
"Control and greed is the answer! If there were any Independent Processors, fishermen might get real pricing value, which would cause a big problem with a marketing monopoly, specifically in transfer pricing. (Sending product out of state/federal tax base at a loss[Hey, look you fishermen, I am really helping you out, because I am losing money!] to a closely held marketing Corporation, which then walks product around a few steps and then Presto! this Company then makes a pile of cash!)"
"I can not say exactly how Chuck does it, but I can tell you absolutely that the Japanese in the AFA Gang do.
Westward Seafoods, Alyeska Seafoods, Western Alaska Seafoods are all owned by Taiyo, now called Maruha Corporation, which has184 Companies around the world with sales totalling $8 billion. Like Chuck, they own boats, but instead of using one's son, you give $50,000,000 worth of fishing boats to your plant manager, Greg Baker, and then say you don't have controlling interest. So like Trident, they have an AFA #107 and #105, for a total of 28.48% of the Bering Sea In-Shore Pollock. Westward has 10.47% and Alyeska has 7.04% of all the crab, not counting what their wholly owned boats have."
"I could go on about Unisea and Peter Pan, both 100% owned by Japanese companies; they are much the same as Maruha's operation. These companies have more than $5 billion in sales through the parent corporations.
So why would these 4 companies need to create laws that would stop anybody in Kodiak from buying and selling fish? These guys have a combined $15 billion in sales, own all these boats and quota, and they hire the very best lobbyists and fly VIPs around in their jets. Are they worried about someone like Dave Woodruff?"(A small independent Kodiak processor.)

From another reader:
"Hello John, I left out Kodiaks' AP member for life(from other e-mail to me). He calls himself a "fisherman" but no one can remember him going out on a boat in over thirty years and I've yet to talk to anyone who can remember him EVER running a boat. The reason for calling himself a fisherman isn't clear. Does it give his position more legitimacy or is it just another example of "the trick to holding power was to tell a lie that everyone knows is a lie, and make them pretend to believe it.""

"Anyway, what I've said about AP for life, Duncan, Doug and Jeff probably seems like personal attacks. That wasn't my intent. I was trying to describe a personal quality that almost all our "public servants" have; they can "rationalize" anything that benefits themselves at the public's expense, whether it's breaking a strike or selling your community down the road to gain some rationalization windfall."

"On another, related subject, Duncan was quoted about the "Kodiak chorus" being out of tune with the "larger chorus" on Gulf Rationalization.. What is this larger chorus? I know what the Sandpoint and King Cove folks think, Homer and Seward too. So where is that larger chorus? Well there's the big processors, the trawlers who can almost taste that windfall and a few other fishermen who are scared they'll get ground up if they don't hop on board."

"Processing workers get told to testify, or to send Ted Stevens a form letter, and then their wages get lowered or their work gets sent to China. Add in Duncan's GOA coastal communities group, at least the ones that don't fish groundfish. They're hoping to get some form of CDQ out of helping the big guys screw the communities that do take part in groundfish. It doesn't add up to me. It is just a "rationalization" for Duncan to do what benefits himself or his clients; it doesn't need to be true."

"The reason the council can get away with this is most of the people who are losing, and will lose because of rationalization, aren't even aware of it. Heck some of them haven't even been born. Maybe their property values will fall, or their kids will get stuck in overcrowded classrooms. The point is, if you steal from everyone and it goes on forever, you can do it so it'll hardly be noticed at first."

"Rationalization is a theft of the coastal communities future, but the future never gets to show up to testify. "Commonize costs and privatize profits--but don't tell anyone. This has been a formula for success for centuries." Hardinor..."We screw the other guy and pass the savings on to you." Dogbert"

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

The cure for fisheries add-ons in Washington D.C.

In Washington fashion, a ton of stuff got tacked onto a bill recently to help rebuild after Katrina, and fight the war in Iraq.

Processors in Alaska don't want fishermen to even think of bypassing them and marketing their own fish at prices they can live on.

You wouldn't think of voting against such a bill, so if you got a favorite project, tack it on some bill like this that will sail through. I was struck by the largess of Senators of other fishing states. They are actually trying to HELP their fishermen as you can see below, or clicking here for the full story.

"Sen. Richard Shelby added about $1 billion to aid the fishing industry, including $300 million to rebuild marinas, piers, docks and warehouses, $50 million for research and monitoring of the recovery of Gulf Coast fisheries, $200 million to replace fishing gear damaged or lost in the hurricanes, $100 million for direct assistance to fishermen and seafood workers to clean up and repair facilities, and $20 million to help shellfishermen in New England's coastal communities hurt by last year's toxic red-tide outbreak."

Fishermen in Alaska are struggling as much as any of them, hundreds have gone broke in the last few years. But do you see the Governor of Alaska or the Congressional delegation doing anything to help them? Quite the contrary. They are working full bore to whittle their ranks down. Put them out of business. Pull the plug on them. Torpedo them. You get the message.

The processors have spread the garbage about there being too many fishermen for the price they get. Where does the ex-vessel price come from? The whim of the processors, of course. Hundreds of millions of dollars go missing every year that could go to raise fish prices. This is proveable, but I won't do it here in a daily blog. If you think federal officials should look into it, e-mail the Department of Justice here and just say as an industry participant you think they should re-examine the Trident-Ocean Beauty merger. Then you'll see what's really going on, that is if Sen. Stevens doesn't squelch it somehow, like last time.

Government efforts are going to help the shore based processors. Those favored few owners of the big plants. The plant workers are so not in this equation that they all ganged up on the workers to take room and board out of their crummy wages. Then the owners use them to support taking the fishermen's livelihoods away from them in the form of "processor privileges." Very few of them will read this, but if they do, they should know that now the processors are working full bore to send their jobs to China. Even the big dungie processor in Oregon is planning on having the dungies processed over there.

If there is any beef about these add-ons to the Iraq-Katrina bill, just send the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council and Alaska's top representatives down there. They'll trim the expenses to fishermen to about one-third through a little trick they have perfected called "rationalization." They'd only have about one out of every three boats left, judging by their success in giving the king crab to the processors in Bristol Bay. Do you think those Gulf Shrimpers would stand still for that? Or would their representatives do that to them like Alaska's representatives do to Alaska fishermen?

North Pacific Neighborhood Watch

You gotta get up pretty early in the morning to hear all the rustling in the bushes from the suspicious characters.

I like poking around canneries. This one in Kodiak Island's Uganik Bay is abandoned and is just down the bay from a newer one.

There are two different stories on the Guv's efforts to help Alaska fishermen, the official one and the real one. Note his statement in the Press Release, that someone probably wrote for him: “It is because of individuals like Arne Fuglvog and Ed Rasmuson that the Council succeeds in protecting the resource and serving the public. I was pleased to recommend them for reappointment.”

I won't comment in detail on these appointments, because I grew up next to Arne's grandparents and my father was long connected to the Rasmuson bank. But they haven't exactly been advocates for free enterprise either. The disconnect is in the statement about "serving the public." The public, Mr. Murkowski, didn't want their rights to catch and market red king crab, in the way they saw fit, taken from them for no good reason. Many people warned that it was folly, and you persisted with your hired gun, Kevin Duffy, to cut the legs out from under the public, not serve them. "Most of the crab fishermen were against crab ratz."

Senator Stevens was castigated for this too, in Washington D.C., by Sen. John McCain and Sen. Olympia Snowe. And in no uncertain terms. People aren't blind to what is going on. The public just hasn't figured out a way to stop all the carpetbagging, yet. It is being watched closely though, by at least 1,000 people a day who log onto this web site. Getting the truth out will help a lot.

I saw where a columnist was calling Duncan Fields a "community advocate." That kinda caught my attention because at the last "ratz" meeting I saw held in Kodiak, he was saying his community was "out of harmony with the larger choir." First of all, his community disagrees with the "larger choir" analogy, that since they will account for 90% of the GOA groundfish harvest, they ARE the choir. (This is the real kind of rationalization that is going on.) And of course his community disagrees with him and all the rest of the "ratz" in the give-away of the groundfish to the processors. (Call it what you like, but changing the perfectly good IFQ system to include "linkages" will make sharecroppers out of fishermen, and the processors carpetbaggers.)

This is what one member of the Kodiak community says about Fields' advocacy:
John, Just some thoughts that came to mind reading your latest piece.What you call solidarity I'd call "incestuous amplification" (no, I didn't think that one up) It's booting anyone that even questions processor linkages off the council or AP, or maybe even the SSC soon.

Look at the kind of people that serve on the council from Kodiak. Duncan Fields family owns (until yesterday, I guess) part of a processor and have fished during numerous salmon strikes in the past 20 years. Doug Hoedel is famous for fishing for a whole month during a crab strike years ago. He also was part of a group of salmon seiners that tried to highjack the Exxon punitive damage settlement for the Kodiak seine fleet. Don't forget getting extra millions for his boat and (catch) history by selling Kodiak down the road (Giving Kodiak the "King Cove treatment" under "ratz")

We also had Jeff Steele on the AP. He got busted a couple times for fishing crab before the season opened, one of these, where a whole load of King Crab got confiscated, was, according to a former trooper who ran the P/V Wolstad, the largest monetary confiscation in state history at the time. Steele was on the councils' "community protection committee"!

The strikes I refer to were real strikes. Not like the phony ones in the Bay, where floaters were paying more than fishermen delivering to shore based plants were striking for. The floaters were willing to buy anyone's fish, but the shore based guys wouldn't break from their companies. The other phony strike scenario happened in area M where the seiners were shut down, due to the presence of immature salmon that were gilling in the seines, while the setnetters were allowed to continue fishing. The seiners called a strike which was funny, as how can you be on strike if you can't fish?

Can you imagine the conversations these guys have? You've got to remember that in their own mind they think they're doing the right thing. No one, even Hitler, sees themself as the bad guy. And who is there to even offer a different view? Sen Stevens wouldn't even see us when we went to D.C. a year before crab ratz. Not the Senator, not his fish guy, NO ONE in his office. He only sees people that agree with him. The council is the same. they've purged the AP, the SSC is next.

Re: "IFQ's double the ex-vessel value of the halibut fishery." (and also doubling the tax revenue for the state and municipalities as this is based on ex-vessel price) Did AFA pollock double in price? How about post-ratz Bering sea crab? Where'd the money go? Why does Chuck B. need to be protected from the Chuck B's of the future?Thanks for your articles

An note from the spell check department: My last post contained a factual error which I immediately removed. For part of one day my blog, and consequently AlaskaReport, gave the wrong lobbyist for the UFA, even though the person had been their lobbyist in the past. But I chuckle at UFA's response to this snafu when they call my blog the "blog of misinformation." I've published over 175 posts and that's only the second time I've been corrected. The other time a reader didn't like my use of the word "irregardless."

I value getting the facts straight above a lot of things, including using this time at a money making enterprise. My blogging about row-boats and other casual subjects deviated a long time ago to what fishermen and others were craving, the truth about what is going on the fishing business. That's the difference between being an advocate and just calling yourself an advocate.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Is the NPFMC even legit?

These questions came in from a reader, who obviously has been around the block up in Alaska. I've mostly been an observer of the Council process for 20 years, but I was the economist for the only strictly fishing bank in Alaska for a time. I have long pondered what is the source of their legitimacy. Then another reader said that Ted Stevens got conflict of interest deleted for the Councils in 1997. And if they are the only federal bodies that don't have to worry about conflict of interest, like the reader thinks, then maybe there are other federal rules that were broken to make it that way. Then you really have a red-headed stepchild.

From a reader:
Since Stephanie Madsen is Chairwoman of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, it is her obligation to set the highest ethical standards. I wish one of your readers would ask the following questions at theApril NPFMC meeting in Anchorage.

Who are your employers?-how much do you get in wages, etc. in total.? Did your income increase after AFA was passed? [American Fisheries Act 1999] Did you get a bonus/stock option for getting NPFMC to pass legislation to prevent any new buyers of crab in what is called Crab Rationalization.?

Did you have a corporation or LLP or LLC that gets any income from any source? Do you have a bonus/stock option with Trident Seafoods or any other processor? If you are successful in getting a similar[Ratz] bill thru in GOA, any bonus or special retirement plan?

Was any study done to calculate the value of the instant wealth given to Processors vs. the impact on crab fisherman? Who made the Cap on Crab Vessel Quota ownership higher for processors than for fishermen? Processors can buy up to 5%, while fishermen are capped at 1%, except for those grandfathered. What is the logic behind that?

Under AFA, have any Processors ever sold any Pollock rights to any independent fisherman? As a Lobbyist for Pacific Seafoods Processors Association, don't you have a conflict as Chairwoman of NPFMC, strongly advocating changing rules to favor one sector over another? Have you had legal advice, that allows you as an “employee” as opposed to as a registered lobbyist, to allow you to NEVER recluse yourself?

Do you discuss your agenda concerning NPFMC when you are attending theother boards you are on now? How many other boards and committees are you on ? While you have been a board member of the North Pacific Research Board, how many millions of dollars have been given away? Has NPRB given money/grants to any other groups you are member of?

Is North Pacific Research Board's approximate budget for 2006 $10,000,000.?
Do you think it might conflict the scientific groups that receive grants from your NPRB, when they might give valid testimony in front of your North Pacific Management Council if it differs with your interest?

Does NPRB supply many large grants to University of Alaska? Do you sit on other boards with employees of the University of Alaska? Has anyone from the University worked on studies for Ratz?

Is John Inani a board member? Are Frank Kelty and Arni Thomson advisors? Have you approved any funding by NPRB for lobbying? Has any of these lobbyists ever reclused themselves as required under the rules for advisors? Are there any members [fishermen] of North Pacific Research Board that are not strong lobbyists for Rationalization?

While you have been on the board, have you met the NPRB mission of membership “requirement for balanced representation across regions”? Were the "Conflicts of Interest and Reclusal" under section H. "Rules of Conduct" ever finalized?[ Not as of Oct 31st 2002]

Since your appointment to the Pacific Marine Fisheries Commission on 10/21/04, have you discussed with fellow board members Ben Stevens & Mckie Campbell, how to better lobby for Trident Seafoods, et al, efforts to Ratz the Gulf of Alaska Groundfish?

Did you advocate for Liz Cabrera for Advisor to PMFC? What was the intented lobby result of Pacific Marine Fisheries Commission by funding $100,100 mostly to Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh in1998-2004.

Did you give any advice to the City of Unalaska on the $177,500 mostly spent [Robertson,Monagle & Eastaugh] on lobbying during 1998-2004?

Did you advise the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Assn. to give $380,000, mostly to Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh, to lobby for Ratz Opilio Crab being forced to be processed there (instead of Kodiak)?

As a lobbyist, did you help [John Inani ?] approve spending $152,200 of Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation funds on lobbyist Robertson, Monagle & Eastaugh? Why? Is it normal for Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation to spend such lobbying fees?

Why would the Alaska Groundfish Data Bank give $32,000 to the same lobby group? [R, M,&E ]
Have you lobbied groups or corporations on behalf of PSPA, prior to their testimony to your North Pacific Fisheries Management Council?

As an employee of Pacific Seafood Processors Association, do you advise or control it's PAC fund - Pacific Seafood Processors Political Action Committee (PSPAC)? How much have they paid out to Ted Stevens Foundation, Ben Stevens, Northern Lights PAC ?

As a Lobbyist do you advise other groups on funding, such as the $889,874 that Trident spent on lobbying in 1998-2004? [again mostly same group; R, M & E]

Did you know when you gave testimony to House, Labor & Commerce Committee on March 27th 2002, to allow seafood processors to subtract room & board from minimum wage workers ("processors are struggling to stay afloat," "Trident Seafoods expects impact of $5 million from this proposed bill"), that Trident Seafoods had on order a new French-built Falcon 50, 3 engine jet (approximate cost $48,000,000 without the interior)? (Jet is technically owned by Mariner Air LLC, tail #n573tr)

Have you flown to any NPMC meetings in this plane? Did you pay for it? Do you know of other council members flying to meetings in the Trident jet? Have you flown in American Seafoods Corporate 737 [$45 mill] jet? How many other council members use this jet?

Have you ever advised American Seafoods $780,000 lobbying effort? Have you flown at any time in any Corporate jet? Have you ever been present when other council members were offered a job by Processors,[Kevin Duffy][Dave Benton]?

Do you know whether Council member Doug Hoedel has sold F/V Peggy Joe to Trident on the condition that it's sale price will increase should Gulf Ratz go through? PSMFC holds all information collected on Bering Sea Crab Ratz, which allows you, Ben Stevens, and M.Campbell, as board members, the right to look at all info. colleted. Have you or any other members looked at individuals' financial data?

Have you sat in meetings with John Inani, Greg Baker, Barry Collier and Joe Plesha? If so, was legal antitrust advice discussed? Did you discuss the allocation of harvestable fish in any of these meetings? Have you ever ordered studies, that were not favorable to the outcome of Ratz, held from release?

STEPHANIE MADSEN, have you EVER allowed grant money to be spent by any group to look at the potential adverse impact of Rationalization?