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?