Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Corporatism, and the 'rebuttal to the defense of Ted and Don'

"Critics of capitalism often argue that any form of capitalism would eventually devolve into corporatism, due to the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands.

Color bathymetric charts are a far cry from heaving a lead line with butter on the lead. That's how my grandfather did it starting before WWI out of Petersburg, when Anchorage might have had a white population of 10.

A permutation of this term is corporate globalism. John Ralston Saul argues that most Western societies are best described as corporatist states, run by a small elite of professional and interest groups, that exclude political participation from the citizenry."

A reader sent this article about corporatism just to help us understand why you can't get in to see your congressman, even if you crawled across the continent from North Pole, Alaska to Washington D.C. How's that for cynicism? I see that the current poll on is pretty reflective of this.

And while I'm at it, Tony Knowles will have some explaining to fishermen for his role in giving away all the fish the last time he was Governor. We'll be keeping an eye out for another reporter singing his praises all summer with the promise of a plum job. Especially if the guy does a repeat, saying, "hey John, what do you want to do in the Administration afterwards?" And if Tony does a repeat, you can bet the reporter will be left out in the cold come election time. By no stretch of the imagination is that to be construed as self-fulfilling prophesy.

I have one reader that took exception to the contributor's defense of Congressmen Ted and Don in my last post, even though he didn't say they had a good excuse for caving in to demands for special treatment. This discussion is valuable if we are to craft a Magnuson-Stevens Act that will grow the country as well as the fish stocks. Sometime I'll repeat the story of how my father tweaked the Alaska King Crab Quality and Marketing Control Board and got king crab marketing off to a good start. It made millionaires out of so many people that never knew what he did for them.

Here's the 'rebuttal to the defense of Ted and Don.'

"John, I'll leave 'you know who's' name out so you can print some of this. The writer is seeking to ingratiate himself with Ted and Don by blaming the State for all the evils of AFA and Crab Ratz. Mr. Benton was NOT working for the State during crab ratz, but he or his (wink, wink) foundation did receive a substantial grant of land, including a lighthouse, courtesy of Ted.

Mr. Benton and Mr Duffy's current jobs are made possible in a large part by the windfall to their employers via AFA and Crab Ratz. Mr. Benton serves on the North Pacific Research Board which exists on free blow job money via Ted. One could say that in everything but name, Benton and Duffy are Trident employees. The only question is WHEN they assumed their current positions.

When AFA was being crafted, and Mr Benton did work for the State, he was not allowed behind the locked doors in Ted's offices for much of the negotiations. Imagine that! The State rep. having no place in crafting monumental changes in the largest fishery(in Alaska and in the world).

Word has it, and I know this is just gossip, that it was a call from (Senator)Ted to (Governor)Frank that put Doug Hoedel on the NPFMC. You think there may have been other calls? Does the writer expect us to believe that the council doesn't do EXACTLY what Ted wants?

Your contributor's success as a lobbyist would benefit from warm relations with Ted and Don. He has nothing to lose from blaming Benton and Duffy for everything. Don't get me wrong. I'm not defending them but they are foot soldiers not the generals in all of this.

Monday, May 29, 2006

"Alaska got primary control of the big money fisheries..."

"Underneath comments asking for specific changes in regional and federal management, commercial fishermen were asking a deeper question," Garrity-Blake said. "They were saying that if this state cares about its fishing communities and heritage, it's time to take a hard look at what's happening and take a stand for us now."

I knew I wasn't going to run my own boat for long, but trolling for three summers did me good. Deeding the opportunity in fisheries away is a profound loss to society.

And also: "It's time for the state to be courageous and take action to help the state's commercial fishermen," he told the MFC. Look at this article and see if you see correlations to Alaska: I do. And I have to comment on a report of at least one North Pacific Council, Advisory Panel member being afraid for his safety in the upcoming public testimony session. Sir, that is your conscience speaking. There have been no threats. If you are afraid of shadows, you're doing something wrong. And of course, there are more people all the time telling you that you are doing it wrong. The only way to have nothing to fear is to do it the right way.

A reader in White Mountain writes: "If you know a pissed off woman fisherman, send her to the next NPFMC meeting. Jenny's act led to a standing parliment, and it's power over the crown. Pointing the way for our nations founders. Today's (problem of) "divine right" of corporations isn't much different."

This leads to one of the most sincere appologies for the way things have gotten, that any of us have seen to date. I won't add anything to this e-mail I received from a reader for fear I might interfere with the absolution he is seeking (and receives) and the advice he gives from obvious serious experience in fisheries politics.

"John, Isn't it astounding how many of Alaska's fish problems are self- inflicted. In 1975 and 1976 I lived in Ted Stevens' and Don Young's offices, helping them write the original Magnuson Act. I was living and working in Kodiak at the time.

Against all odds, Ted and Don got us a separate Alaska Regional Council, an Alaska majority vote on it and ALL meetings held inside the State's borders. People in Seattle have still not forgiven me for that now that I live down here. But we did it. Alaska got primary control of the big money fisheries of the Bering Sea and the GOA. Hands down. So who f..... up?

Why are we having such a s...-slinging contest nowadays. The Alaska majority still prevails on the NPFMC. Dutch Harbor and Kodiak are still two of the top five fishing ports in America. Last time I looked, ALL voting members of the Alaska Board of Fisheries were still ALL ALASKANS. I ask again: who f..... up?

It's too easy to blame the Old Man and Don for everything and anything that sucks in our business lives. They were pressured like all Hell to pass AFA and authorize Crab Ratz. I know for a fact they didn't dream any of it up on their own. Many of us landed on them like a ton of bricks over the years to do our bidding in Congress. I wish you'd interview Ted and Don and get their side of the story.

I, for one, am guilty of cornering them to authorize Crab Ratz three years ago. I plead guilty to that. But it wasn't Ted Stevens or Don Young who passed the 90:10 split and that god-awful Last Best Offer binding arbitration. It was ADFG's Dave Benton and Kevin Duffy, representing the Governor of Alaska on the NPFMC, who shoved that s... down our throats. Let's get real for a change. Why don't you interview those assholes when you can?

Duffy's making more money than you can count down here in the Factory Trawler Palace in Seattle and Benton is the guru of MCA in Juneau (the Jolly Green Giant of all Enviros). These are the culprits who f..... us royally on crab ratz. Please ease up on the Old Man and Don and convict the real perps, not just the most convenient ones. I read your column every week and really enjoy your skepticism and wit. Press on."

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Yes, Virginia, there is a real Council, someplace

Talk about being "out of harmony with the larger chorus," as the famous quote from a Gulf of Alaska 'rationalizer' put it.

Some nice Pacific cod we were flying to Korea, until the big shore plant told the fishermen they might not be able to get home heating fuel if they persisted in marketing their own fish. And you thought the Mafia was bad.

Now it's the North Pacific Council's rockfish ratz intentions that are out of harmony. The 'chorus' is the most recent Magnuson-Stevens Act rhetoric from Congress, the Editor of National Fisherman, and anybody who has a remnant of social conscience left. The 'chorus' is saying fishermen are needed as much as fish are, and there needs to be a balance between them. They are talking about protections for fishermen and communities.

So how is it that the National Marine Fisheries Service just announces that this chorus is passe, and they want comments on how to 'fix what 'aint broken' in the Gulf of Alaska. Hoping to cut a better deal for the processors? What, like it was for the 900 crab fishermen that lost their jobs in the Bering Sea under this plan last fall? How again is that good? You just hear Federal and State fisheries managers in Alaska talking about "processor protections." Remember, there is no correlation between processor concerns and fishermen/community concerns, as this article well states.

Of course the people that greedily dumped untold millions into fish processing equipment in Alaska, whether catcher/processors or shore-based plants, want to protect and leverage their investments. The justifications used by the National Marine Fisheries Service in this 'protection racket' have already been proven erroneous. What is this, "telling the lie loud enough and long enough?" But if you are a staffer and told to get out a solicitation for public comment, what ya gonna do? You'll have to lie. Reminds me of the refrain from a song, "Bad boy, bad boy, what ya gonna do when they come for you?"

Boy, they sure shouldn't have put out that solicitation for comments on rockfish ratz right before a day of public testimony. The people that strategize to save fishing jobs and the communities, from the mega corporations and their politicians, probably won't be fooled by a day set aside for public 'venting.' The Council and the powers behind it will certainly be counting on business as usual the very next day. What they won't know is that someone may have videotaped the whole thing and sent Bill O'Rilley a copy for his "Most Outrageous News" segment on Fox News.

The following is a comment by the editor of 'National Fisherman' magazine. Remember, he has to live back East with all the compromising, so he takes on a compromising tone, ignoring the greater Council empowerment it would allow.

"By paying heed to the economic component of fisheries, H.R. 5018 allows fishermen and their communities to think about the future. And by demanding the implementation of scientifically determined catch levels, it assures the fish of a future as well."

The trouble with H.R. 5018 is that it INCREASES the power of the Fishery Management Councils, while humming along with the chorus. You think they are giving the fish to the processors fast now! Remember, Pombo was appointed to chair the House Resources Committee because he was the 'give-away-the-West' Congressman.

Actually my analogy is off. Most of the Congressional 'humming along with the public chorus' is just a cover for a background refrain that gets played exclusively where the public chorus thins out. And that would be places like Kodiak Island, or even Anchorage. The National media isn't looking in places like that and probably wouldn't go there because it's too windy. They did go to Pt. Barrow to film a couple of trapped whales, but they won't go to watch billions of dollars being stolen from fishermen and communities. Because all the while the hot-shots are humming what the public and the media hope to hear from them; "no problems, mate."

The problem was put very succinctly by a Native Elder of the Alaska Native Village of Kaktovik. "We've been trying for a year to develop communication with Shell that would give us a measure of confidence about their intentions and their ability to function safely in our homeland waters. They just keep working against us at every turn," Sonsalla said. "Instead of technical staff or people with authority, they send public affairs. Instead of true consultation with community leaders on substantive issues, they try to schedule superficial social gatherings where they can talk at us."

The North Pacific Fisheries Management Council is just a public affairs body for the heavy hitting politicians and fish companies that have this little mutual protection society going. They are the guys that rub elbows at the $2100 a plate functions in Washington D.C. Or, forget the plate, pass the 'processor quotas.' If you don't believe me just look at who chairs the NPFMC, a lobbyist for the big processors association! Bill O'Rilley will love that.

The Elders of Kaktovik just declared Shell Oil to be 'hostile.' The Scottish fishermen declared the Fisheries Minister and the fisheries agencies there 'hostile.' (But they might have been egged on by Mel Gibson yelling "FREEDOM" in the Scottish movie saga, "Braveheart.") I suppose that if the Federal and State government don't heed the public's call for caution in 'rationalizing' the Gulf of Alaska, we'll have to declare them 'hostile' as well.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

The real fish Czar, or the strip mining of Alaska's waters

"Portraying himself as an ocean champion, Richard Pombo, R-Calif, chair of the House Resources Committee, has introduced a bill, H.R. 5018, that will severely weaken current fisheries law and exacerbate a decaying management system.

Just putting fish on a plane to a public cold storage somewhere gives fishermen another couple bucks a pound. Or, if the processor does it, he makes the extra couple bucks.

Left to stand unchallenged, Pombo's bill will deep-six U.S. fisheries, and the next chance to undo the damage may not surface for another 10 years."

Adding credibility to this statement is the fact that Richard Pombo is a rancher. I see a lot of articles that Google Alerts sends me and I haven't seen one that shows that he has lived or worked around the ocean, or even "fed the fishes" on a charter outing. He got to his current position by leveraging his family name, that was plastered all over California on real estate signs. Not his name either, his father's. Then you get a "give-away-the-West" attitude going on in Washington D.C. and you have a recipe for disaster for the fisheries.

It appears Gov. Murkowski brought that mentality back with him like the black plague. Give away the oil for a pittance, take the fish away from fishermen and give it to big companies, many not even U.S. based, and give the minerals away and leave a polluted, marred landscape behind. I gave the mining industry the benefit of the doubt for awhile, not knowing much about mining, but reports of pollution at Red Dog sure burst my bubble.

But I know the oceans off Alaska are being strip-mined. I use this term because the most and largest fish processors, who make their own rules via the NPFMC, are Japanese owned. They are smart enough to not catch more than the ocean will keep on producing because they wiped out most of their own fish by overharvesting. BUT, they leave nothing behind in Alaska to show that the billions and billions of dollars worth of fish they and a couple of Seattle companies took, were ever even there. And the Murkowski administration is right in there helping them do it, in fact insisting to the public that "it just has to be." And Sen. Ted Stevens (R) Alaska, has said, "Tokyo is closer to Alaska than Washington is." So we should let the Japanese control Alaska's fisheries?

We'll be analyzing Alaska State Legislators' voting records one of these days pretty soon too. But readers have to know that if you get a delegation together from Alaska to go back to Washington D.C. to complain to your elected representative in the U.S. Senate, he won't give you the time of day. It's been tried. Unless you are on his side of the fence, in which case you won't be complaining, you'll be dropping off a couple pounds, or bucks, or marks, or yen. I think Lisa Minelli sang about that aptly in "Cabaret."

Speaking of movies, you have to check out the oldie about Alaska Statehood called "Ice Palace." That was my movie debut. I was cast the size of a mosquito on your TV screen. I was fishing trout off the big rock at Ness' Point in Petersburg in the scene where Robert Ryan knocked Richard Burton off the cannery dock and into the drink. However, I'm sure the director didn't know I was there, a hundred yards away.

The movie was based on the book by Edna Ferber, who had consulted with Alaska Rep. Ernest Greuning on the statehood issue. Statehood was a tough row to hoe because of the Seattle fish companies wanting to keep picking the low hanging fruit. Edna portrayed the Seattle contingent in the personality of "Czar" Kennedy, played by Richard Burton. The movie galvanized the nation in sympathy for Alaska when it came out in 1958. Alaska's freedom from the "fish czars" was granted the next year. Alaskans had fought to break their yoke for many decades.

Well, you might have seen this coming, but he's now called "Czar Bundrant." That's just a representation of the gigantic give-away of fish off Alaska's coasts to big non-resident interests, while the Alaskan fishermen and their towns struggle to survive in the harsh Alaskan wilderness. Just like before statehood. I'd bet someone in Kodiak would win the sign contest in the June 6 "Fishstock" festival, using that theme somehow. The only hope the Kodiak folks have of saving the fish in the Gulf of Alaska from going into the same black hole as the fish and crab in the Bering Sea is if their demonstration gets national attention. And the Republicans get blamed. Again, I don't think the Dems would play it any better if they had a chance.

And it's not just sea life, out beyond the lights of Dutch Harbor a thousand times, on a stormy night, that is being given away. It's also the salmon that coastal fishermen catch and sell for peanuts to the big canneries. I heard of a 8,000 pound lot of Southeast "private reserve" H & G sockeye sell for $4.25 a pound recently. That fisherman MIGHT have received $1.25 for his dressed sockeye at the dock. That one lot is equal to a whole summer's earnings for an average Southeast Alaska gillnetter.

All this only goes to show how wrong can be made to look like right if it comes with a government stamp; in this case an American Fisheries Act or NPFMC stamp. Don't get me wrong, I'm for free enterprise and democracy. It's just that government by big business is flat wrong, and I'm sure a majority of voters will agree with me next time around. And I'm less partisan all the time too. I'm looking for honest politicians. Which means I've got a job for a long time. LOL There is one candidate running for Governor of Alaska that speaks in terms of the Constitution instead of power politics. You can be sure big campaign money will go to the one that promises to go along with the "fish Czars" and the "oil Czars."

Monday, May 22, 2006

Take that four-barrel off that Council

It pleases me to no end that these industry grudges are getting out in the open and not festering like a poke from a rat-fish.

Bleeding a sockeye after it comes out of the net.

This expansion of "the discussion" is as necessary for the health of the industry as fishermen knowing what consumers are paying for fish on the other end. Maybe the most famous social entrepreneur of the 20th century, John Kenneth Gailbraith, would have been pleased to no end as well. He recommended this kind of exchange highly.

The reader will have to reconcile this new letter with my previous post. The writer below was instrumental in getting the RSDA approved for Bristol Bay. Thanks Robin, I predict you will be in the history books for your efforts. The funny thing is, the writer Robin is responding to, I think helped get the Regional Seafood Development Association for Prince William Sound.

The chief frustration is with the Board of Fish, that has too much power for the calibre of people they get for it, just like the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council. It's like giving a kid graduating from eighth grade, a Corvette to rod around in. Something's gotta give or we will be going round and round forever. But as the RSDAs evolve, the regions will find they have a lot in common; they have fishermen, who have boats, who live on the coast of Alaska, and need to get more money for their fish, etc. Then with a unified voice, fishermen can start to build the kind of lives and communities they wanted all along.

"Hi John, I was shipped your article of May 20, "Board of Fish and Valdez meeting, or gillnetters beware". First off, I never read or talked about a fishery proposal that came up at the Valdez meeting. I have no axe to grind with any user group including Sportsmen or Subsistence User's of any fish stock that enters PWS, Southeast or any other fishery for that matter. I am a Bristol Bay Drift Fishermen and my concerns are for the fishery of Bristol Bay. Whoever wrote the article, surely must not sleep very well at night. Let me state the correct record.

1. Virgil Umpenhour contacted me to see if Robert Heyano was in Dillingham, Virgil called him (Heyano)several times and requested if I did see Robert to have Robert call him, I agreed. One phone call, no talk of any fish proposals.
2. Correct, Robert and I have been friends for many years, and remain so today.
3. Correct, both Robert and I sit on the BBEDC Board, I was appointed by my village council and Robert was appointed by another village council.
4. Correct, Trevor McCabe provided some services to BBEDC.

To the best of my knowledge, Trevor McCabe and Robert Heyano have never met. As the CEO of BBEDC, I was tasked with hiring and working with Trevor, not Heyano. Trevor and I never talk about salmon politics, especially PWS.

Maybe you could tell the author of this article I bank with Wells Fargo, and he could add this to his simplistic conspiracy that maybe Ed and I dreamed up his nightmare or that I also know Bever Nelson, or the fact that 20 years ago I fished for Icicle Seafoods and all the dots would be connected.

The PWS gillnetter's time would be better spent doing other things than trying to make false accusations against me and other folks in the fishing industry.

Thanks, Robin Samuelsen, a Bristol Bay Drift fishermen who for voted for the BBRSDA.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Board of Fish and Valdez meeting, or gillnetters beware

The name 'Trevor McCabe' comes up all the time like a bad penny. Here's two sad stories that have his name written all over them.

Right before Limited Entry in the salmon fisheries, Whitney-Fidalgo Seafoods owned like 102 boats. Their seiners had the distinctive yellow seine skiffs.

The one below is from a Cordova writer. The other one was a letter to the Anchorage Daily News the other day from a Seward writer. Here's an excerpt:

"We humble Seward residents thank those who let the rich get richer. Hail to our politically connected citizens of Seward. Hail to our few rich, powerful citizens. May they become ever richer. Let money slated to go to the city of Seward be redirected to fill their pockets ("Land deal opens SeaLife Center, Seward rift," April 23). Praise to the corridor that will redirect our visitors to a new downtown subdistrict lined by governmental agencies and our most powerful and rich businesses. Bow to those who promised not to compete with existing local businesses but have already opened their own gift shop, with plans to compete in other niches. Praise the wonderful opportunity that has been given to them to expand at our expense." They promise they won't take advantage of their political and governmental connections any longer, then whamo, they clean you out again.

I worked all over Prince William Sound ram-rodding herring operations in the '70s. Some of my fondest memories working in the fish business are from there. For example, I had to charter a Beaver from Cordova to Valdez to get to a job, but on the way the pilot circled a school of herring and directed a fisherman by radio to make the set blind, like they do. Only in Alaska.

The story below is from a PWS gillnetter, demonstrating the jeopardy they and the gillnetters in Southeast Alaska are in. Thankfully, the gillnetters in Bristol Bay saw fit to band together in at least a single voice in Juneau. I had heard from the mouth of a North Pacific Council member, awhile back now, that seiners should be used in Bristol Bay. The seiners have the power in S.E. and don't like the gillnetters at all. Too bad more gillnetters there don't see it coming. At this point it's not about quality or marketing.

To John Enge,
Find enclosed attachments concerning our Press Release, Letter concerning the Valdez mtg., recordings, and the Letter of Complaint we sent to Governor Murkowski in Janurary. We feel that the outcome of the BOF mtg. in Valdez was predetermined in advance. These are some of the reasons why the mtg. went the way it did. We have still not been given a "cleaned up" copy of the recordings.

I have been working to uncover the relationships on the BOF and to determine why the Valdez mtg. was stacked against the drift gillnet fishermen. This is what I have come up with. Jeremiah Campbell's name was put forward by the BOF chair Art Nelson last summer when Ed Dersham resigned his seat. At the Valdez mtg. Jeremiah supported the PWS allocation revision, which gave the seine fleet access and opportunity in the Esther chum fishery, and ignored the drift gillnet views.

Trevor McCabe and Jeremiah Campbell (40% each, Ezra Campbell 20%) own Alaska Northern Outfitters LLC (Commercial charter business based in Seward), which in turn owns 100% of Northern Explorer LLC, which owns the M/V Mary J (100' fish tender purchased last summer). Ed Rasmuson (Wells Fargo Executive, NPFMC member) is their banker.

This tender received a contract to buy 2006 PWS salmon from the seine fleet after the Valdez mtg. Trevor McCabe purchased a PWS & a Cook Inlet salmon seine permit in 2005. Nelson & McCabe are owners in Point Bluff LLC (real estate on the other side of a 'Bridge to Nowhere'). Nelson, McCabe & Campbell are owners in Alaska Halibut Championship together. McCabe & Steve Zelener own Worldwide Alaska Seafood LLC together, and they are also partners in Lake-Aire Alaska LLC. McCabe & Nelson are both past Executive Directors of At-Sea Processors Association, a trade organization representing US/Flag catcher/processor vessels and the Seattle based companies that own them.(consortiums that benefited immensely when deeded annual fish harvests under the American Fisheries Act that Trevor authored as Sen. Ted Stevens fisheries aide.)

There seems to me a conflict of interest with Nelson & Campbell. Campbell worked closely with Fred Bouse at the Valdez mtg. Nelson, Campbell & Bouse voted against the drift gillnet views on every proposal. TheCDFU(Cordova District Fishermen United) Gillnet Division has had its members write over 50 letters & emails to the Governor to not re-appoint Campbell to his seat, which expires on June 30th. We also sent a complaint letter to the Governor concerning Bouse's conduct at the mtg. Nelson left the Valdez meeting one day early (he had a CDQ client mtg. in Anchorage) and turned the meeting over to Mel Morris (vice chair) who had his hands full at the end.

When Art Nelson was promoted to the BOF chair in the fall of 2003 he told the drift gillnet representatives the PWS allocation plan would be revised and everything would be on the table (along with permit participation). We now have a processor controlled market in PWS. Out of 265 seine permits only 100 have fished during the last five years. PWS processors will not let any other seine fishermen have a market. This way they can control the fishermen. No seine fishermen can talk price or complain about anything. If they do they are told that they no longer have a market for their fish. They have become "corporate" fishermen with no voice.

This is why Seward Fisheries (Seine processor owned by Icicle Seafoods) had John Woodruff (Icicle VP) and Tim Schmidt (Seward Fisheries Fleet Manager) at the Valdez mtg. They lobbied very heavily for the seine fleet to have more access and opportunity on the Esther (hatchery) chums. Mel Morris (BOF member, chair of BOF PWS Allocation Commitee during the last three years) went to school with Emil "Beaver" Nelson, a 30 year PWS seine fisherman, who along with Leroy & Tim Cabana (also PWS seine fishermen), led the charge to take fish away from the drift gillnet fleet. Mel Morris also has had a prior business relationship with Icicle Seafoods.

Virgil Umpenhour (former BOF member) made a comment at the end of the Valdez mtg. that "his relationship with Robin Samuelson finally paid off." Robert Heyano's name was put forward to the Governor for appointment to the BOF last year. Samuelson & Heyano have been friends for many years (fellow BB fishermen & BOD on the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation (BBEDC) and Heyano voted against the drift gillnet fleet on every proposal at the Valdez mtg. Trevor McCabe is the federal lobbyist on record for the BBEDC and the Southeast Alaska Seiners Association.

The Esther chum fishery was originally designated for the explicit access by the drift gillnet fleet when the PWS allocation plan was presented to ADF&G in 1991. This was supposed to be the drift gillnet share of PWSAC hatchery raised fish. The seine fleet had already been receiving the majority of the hatchery fish prior to the Esther hatchery coming on line starting in 1987. This was our payback for the 2% (enhancement tax) of our gross revenues for all of our fish going to PWSAC.

Governor Murkowski is moving to put Jeremiah Campbell's name forward to be on the Board of Fisheries for three more years. We can not let this happen!!!
Write, call or send a POM (at your local LIO) today!

Monday, May 15, 2006

Lobbyists make fisheries laws in the U.S.

This business of lobbyists sitting on federal law making bodies, not to mention being the chairman of them, is just insane.

Some Capitals need "brain thaw" more than others.

Think about it a minute and you'll see what I mean. It's not a big paradigm shift. In a couple of days, the one billion people that have Google will see it if they search for Alaska News, or Alaska Fisheries News, etc.

This subject keeps coming up when you get down to basics of what's wrong with federal fisheries management. Forget all the biological stuff, socio-economic impacts and rules of order, the whole system has to come to a halt until this cancer can be removed from the Magnuson-Stevens Act, or one Council at a time. Listen to this letter from a reader.

"John, it is time for the people of Alaska to contact the Governor and strongly urge him to put a stop to any lobbyist holding a seat on the North Pacific Council. This council rules over 2 billion dollars of commerce every year, and it has been hijacked. We have only until June 6th, the date of the next public hearing on GOA in Kodiak.

The fact that a Processor's lobbyist is the North Pacific Council's Chair is beyond any illusion of ethical standards of fair play. Everyone in Alaska can see the absolute conflict of interest this creates in the very fabric of the regulatory system, which is meant to be a system of and for all industry peers. Ms. Madsen does not recuse herself, in fact she does just the opposite, using her occupation as a lobbyist sitting on countless other boards to jury-rig the outcome, which is the systematic suppression of the free enterprise system, a system that is now so distorted as to make it a crime to buy fish from a fisherman. (See Federal Register: Jan 5th 2000-volume 65-#3 page 380-390.)

Please take a second and think about that. You would go to jail if you had the audacity to try to buy pollock from a legal fisherman in the Bering Sea. Sadly, it's now the same if you set up a buying station to bring fresh king crab [like the crab currently being flown daily to Japan from Norway] to market - you would be a felon. Why, in America, should it be criminal to pay more, directly to a fisherman? Is it because it would upset a cartel so powerful that they can make all free enterprise a crime?

Stephanie is only the visible spearhead of this small group of billionaires flying around in their private jets. Even if the playing field was leveled today, they would still be billionaires, with all the toys, the fishing boats [worth hundreds of millions] that supply their own plants [worth hundreds of millions] and 100% of the shore-based pollock Quota, under the American Fisheries Act, which only allocated pollock to "existing shore-based plants" based on what they processed during 1996-1997. No company or person can set up a buying/processing plant now because they would not be given a permit to buy fish under AFA. How can this be good for Alaska?

This is the most interesting point that many people have missed, and this is core to the smelly-fish business in Adak with Ben Stevens: fish caught under Sen. Ted Stevens' 1998 Community Development Quota System (CDQ), is exempt from this law - CDQ fish can be sold to anyone. Ted got approval on shutting down the Adak Navy base in 1995, and in 1997 transferred ownership to Adak/Aleut Corporation (Ted's son, Ben, is deeply involved with both). Ted then allocated the fish from the general pool of AFA fish to Adak/Aleut Corporation under the CDQ, allowing it to be purchased at this new plant built on the ex-Navy base. This is the loophole that Ted and Trevor McCabe (Ben's longtime business partner) hid in the fine print of their own AFA law. Only Ted has blank check approval over CDQ transfer.

It was the prefect crime (on Sept 18th 2005, Ted told Anchorage Daily News "if he [Ted] created a pollock allocation to benefet his son it would be a crime." ) Remember, Ted is a Harvard trained laywer, he understands the intent of a law... Recent headlines in the case against Enron's Ken Lay note that the Federal prosecutors have determined that Lay's "deliberate ignorance" is not a defense. Ted's statement that he hasn't commited a crime, because he did not know his son was to get this windfall through an Act of Congress, simply defies common jurisprudence.

Take this to its logical conclusion and consider; Ted using his influence to bestow $30,000,000 worth of fish(annually), to a company that he and his staff knew nothing about? And didn't even check out the degree of his own son's connection? That makes far less sense.

Instead, he creates a free base/plant, and an EPA permit which no one else could get. The compliant Native Corporation is not going to complain about Benny getting a healthy chunk of the benefit from his dad's gift of 60,000,000 lbs of free fish.* Note that Ted was also quoted in ADN as saying "Neither one of us is getting rich. That's for damn sure." An outright lie, unless his definition of rich is somewhat removed from that of the rest of us; the 'us' that he is paid to represent.

Trident Seafoods wouldn't say a word, because they were working on getting this pollock indirectly, with the son of one of the founders of Trident, Cary Swasand, who has many co-mingled fishing businesses with Chuck Bundrant, Trident's President. Ted has made Chuck a billionaire from over 30 years of rule-changes. Clearly, it is time for payback, i.e. to make Benny rich and have him step into Ted's Senate seat. How could Chuck not support that - it would continue the empire for both?

I have to wonder what Alaska would be like if all that time and energy Ted has put into bending and pushing things toward Chuck's agenda, had instead been applied to giving all Alaskans a fair shot in fish/seafood. Would the Alaska Peninsula be a hub? Would not most of the crab have been processed in Kodiak when the season became a short, one-shot operation?

Would it have hurt Alaska to have the jobs, keeping only 40% of the Kodiak work force nonresident, as opposed to Trident's 86% nonresident workforce? [State of Alaska report Jan 2006-nonresidents working in Alaska]. Would these smaller seafood companies have been able to work harder and smarter on crab marketing? Tanner crab prices only dropped 12% in Kodiak this year compared with what happened out west, where one boat went fishing with the belief they were fishing for $2.20 lb for Bairdi, and came back in with 100,000lbs - only to find they were paying a dollar - sorry. [Under Crab Ratz you have to fish without any price disclosure from processors.]

What could he have done? He can not sell to anyone else [that would be a crime,] the Fish & Game does not let you move from one harbor to another [another crime]. Why? Is this another case of a law whose only real purpose is to keep fishermen from voting with their feet? After all, if you can not legally move your boat from one area to another after checking in, you cannot begin to try and get a better value for you and your crew.

So why did the biggest crab guys, who also happen to be part of one the largest corporations in the world, [they can practically print money from the huge windfall of pollock they get under AFA] not have the most competitive pricing in favor of the fisherman? The overhead is covered by income from pollock, so why can the small fry processor from Kodiak do such a better job?

We cannot let this North Pacific Management Council continue to be corrupted from the top down. I wonder what marketing excuses Chuck uses when he flies almost regularly over to his very nice ocean-front estate in Hawaii? I mean, if you are flying a group of VIP's to Hawaii in a fancy private jet, you have to have a fancy house that looks the part, right? Does he claim that this is business so the IRS does not consider all these flights as income for the 'entertained'? Or does he claim it's part of Trident's cost of crab marketing, so he can expense this to what he has to pay fishermen for crab? Does he get such a big paycheck that he just pays the $50,000 plus that it costs to fly over there?

Remember how Joe Plesha usually starts his testimony: "Trident has never declared a dividend for its shareholders" - so just how does Chuck get his money?

Get a hold of the Gov and tell him No More Foxes Guarding The Hen House! Ted is the one that has been backing Chuck, Governor Murkowski has only followed Ted's lead, I really think he would listen if enough Alaskans stand up.

Remember you almost always get the government you deserve.

*Aleut Corp is like all the Native Corps, they get billions of dollars from all kinds of grants and special Federal programs that have been created and funded by Ted. These hard working people are not the problem, it is Ted's manipulating and scheming, in order to keep them beholden to him for the voting power they represent. Clearly, he is also trying to extend this reign of power to his son. Given, that Ted closed a major Navy base, the only place left in western Alaska that could get an EPA fish processing permit, with his son Ben on the board of the Aleut Corporation, which received both the base and the CDQ pollack allocation. How does all this benefitting son Ben not constitute a crime? Or that he "did not know," and therefore it was okay? You'd then have to assume he is an idiot and his son is the crook. Ben kept this option hidden only from the public. However you cut it, these aren't the kind of folks Alaskan's want representing them."

The old ways are done, and the Internet brings a new day. Contrast this cabal giving America's king crabs to a couple of big companies, to Russia allowing a thousand or so fishermen to harvest THEIR king crabs. I'd say someone better fix this fast, or our country doesn't have a leg to stand on.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Dishonest academics in the National Fisheries Debate

Some of us colmunists on AlaskaReport have written about processor funding of the chief "processor quotas economist" before. Hence the reference to the Darth Vader of Economists.

This Hercules was bringing a load of chum salmon into Petersburg from Kotzebue Sound. They weren't dressed, so the effort wasn't repeated.

A reader resent this communication he had with a Fish and Game employee, who he says is now with NMFS, that makes it prety plain. That is, how Washington State University, the big processors and the Alaska State government worked together to give away vast State and Federal fish resources to a few already rich folk.

My posts to my blog and hence to AlaskaReport have been two days apart lately. It seemed to me this morning that at that rate, there is one day for readers to digest the stuff I put out and one day to do something about it if so inclined. If it doesn't strike you that you should do anything, that's OK. But, if you are pointing and saying "someone should do something," remember, there are three fingers pointing back at you. Enjoy.

Sent: Monday, March 11, 2002 4:35 PM
To: Jeff Hartman
Subject: processor grants to WSU and who knew

Thanks for the response. You wrote: "I just wanted to point out that your communication contains inaccuracies. Did you check your sources carefully before sending it? Dr. Matulich has not concealed the 8 year old WSU gift award from PSPA to which you refer, to our agency and staff. In addition, we have been aware of this information since the grant was provided to WSU."

I have personally heard Dr. Matulich testify at NPFMC and Alaska Board of Fisheries meetings in addition to the National Research Council/National Academy of Science hearing on IFQ's. Dr. Matulich has been asked at these meetings, and I have asked him personally, if there was any processor connection with his research. EVERY single time he answered that he merely had an academic interest in the subject.

I have also asked State of Alaska representatives at these meetings/hearings, and the State get togethers prior to council meetings, if they thought there was processor funding involved. Again, EVERY single answer I received from these State of Alaska representatives was that there was no connection.

Back to your question about checking my sources, a couple of questions come to mind. Since over the course of many years I had repeatedly asked the State and was told, "No, there is no processor funding of Dr. Matulich", why would I check again? I've found no fellow Alaskan fisherman or Alaskan fishermens representative in eight years who was given this knowledge? Should I have assumed I was decieved earlier?

If so, how would I know who to ask this time? Which staff members have known of this and for how long? Putting the onus on me to ask for information from the same sources who said it doesn't exist is a bit twisted. Does the State feel no obligation to give information freely to it's citizens?

I realize there is an "out" for both Dr. Matulich and the State, though I don't belive this will pass the red face test. These contributions were not made directly into Dr. Matulich's bank account, they were laundered through WSU and not made public. This is akin to saying individual candidates do not benefit from soft money contributions since the money gets laundered through a PAC.

You wrote: "If prior grants from industry were an important criteria for selection of University based research, public agencies would be unable to contract much research." You altered my concern to one that is easy to respond to. I agree with you, and, as I wrote originally: "The problem is not that Dr. Matulich conducted research at the request of and funded by industry, it is his attempt to conceal that very fact."

The fact that you knew was not enough. The processor contributions to WSU were kept from those attending meetings where Dr. Matulich presented his work. That the contributions were kept secret through the artifice of saying there was no monetary gain to Dr. Matulich since the payments went to his employer and thus did not need to be disclosed is laughable.

Your reply actually reinforces my point that certain employees of the State of Alaska are making decisions in a vacuum. The State has had knowledge of the processor grants to WSU for 8 years and harvesters were not told. I guess I should say thanks for sparing me knowledge that I obviously cannot handle.

P.S. The secrecy around the grant funding is a minor issue. The main point of my original post was that the design of Dr. Matulich's State funded study guaranteed the result. He only looked at prices, profits and losses of harvesters and processors without checking into the causes of processor losses. All losses can only be attributed to increased harvestor leverage from IFQs.

My example of processors dumping frozen inventory below cost because the IPHC increased the following years quota was probably the single greatest loss the processors incurred during the three year post IFQ study period. Though this loss had nothing to do with harvester leverage or IFQs, it can ONLY be caused by increased harvester bargaining power in the Matulich study. Any policy derived from this study would be a disaster.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Science vs fuzzy logic in the National Fisheries Debate

(18 references)
Seth Macinko
Dept. of Marine Affairs
University of Rhode Island
Prepared for Presentation at the Managing Our Nations Fisheries II Conference.
March 24 - 26, 2005
Washington D.C.
Given at a Full Committee Hearing: Seafood Processor Quotas Hearing
Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 9:30 AM - Sr - 253
The Testimony of
Mr. Joseph T. Plesha
General Counsel, Trident Seafoods Corporation
(No references, find at end of above hyper-linked paper)

Monday, May 08, 2006

Funny how if the fishermen suffer, so do the towns

Now that the king salmon trolling season on the coast of Oregon and California has been finalized, the tales of woe are pouring in.

Does it look like the stars that were placed in a line in Washington D.C. to assist oil development, also assist fish give-aways?

I suppose it's because reporters are flocking to the coast to see what's going on. And the picture they find isn't pretty. This is a link to the story from Morro Bay in N. California. I drove over to Brookings, OR last week to see what was going on there.

The first place we stopped was Cresent City, CA, mostly because we took a wrong turn out of the redwoods and got going South the few miles to that harbor. Since we were there, I took some pictures and talked to a fisherman, if you could call him that, whose boat was sunk in the harbor. Just before a lady came along and helped distract him so I could get away, he said that four boat owners there had recently just given their boats away.

After a nice dinner at a Chinese place down by the harbor, that seemed to be the favorite of the locals, and a good sleep, I found what I was looking for. It came in the form of the caretaker for the ice plant and cold storage. Ya gotta know WHO to talk to, then be able to speak the lingo. First, the owner of the ice plant, that was shying away from reporters, wasn't the character from out of the past in S.E. Alaska I thought he was. The caretaker had been a buying station manager in Brookings for 35 years until some fishermen built the ice plant and the EDA built the town a cold storage. He knew the whole story.

Well, I already gathered that the problems these towns were having started with some lady dropping by the Klamath Lake and turning off the water to the Klamath River in 2002. That was to get the farmers to elect a Republican U.S. Senator. Little did they guess, or maybe even care, that they would yank the rug out from under the trolling fleet and their communities for a 700 mile stretch. Oops.

Of course you now have this guy Pombo, running around doing that kind of thing for a living. And for the uninitiated, he is the Chairman of the House Resources Committee. One of Tom DeLays last brilliant moves was to appoint him, being the good radical give-away-the-west-to-developers type that he is. Which would grease the skids of exploring for oil all over the place, and give fish to big fish developers through his MSA reauthorization proposal. Never mind that big fish developers don't NEED to be given the fish while in the water, instead of buying them from fishermen.

I've got a feeling the big processors make enough money on abusive transfer pricing alone to enable them to buy up other plants right and left. (Actually, a plant might be a million or two, but what's that compared to a $40 plus million jet?) This isn't a partisan issue, the Dems would do the same thing too if they had a chance to help out some big donors. Well, I'll save the 'polarization of Congress' speech for later.

Back to Brookings, OR. Turns out the old boy running the ice plant for the owner, who is on the Port Commission, is mothballing the cold storage as we speak. The whole system was designed so the cold storage couldn't be pulled down to -20 for storing salmon when ice is being made. The bottom dragger I talked to said he was only going to get a month or so of fishing this year. He was unloading at one of the buying stations in the harbor. Not sure where the fish get trucked off to. But get this about the cold storage.

I mentioned some of Brookings problems last summer when Petersburg was debating putting in a cold storage. This one in Brookings turned out to be like another one the U.S. Economic Development Administration built in Alaska. IT DIDN'T HAVE ANY PROVISION TO QUICK FREEZE THE FISH, much less a place to wash and ice them, or anything that you usually do in a cold storage. They built cold storage, not A cold storage. It's just one very large walk-in freezer. A white-elephant that has never stored a product for human consumption. And now there isn't any salmon or bottomfish to warrant fixing it.

The money they might have used to give it blast freezing and a fish house went in to a Port Commission office building and convention center, which came a million dollars short of completion. So that white elephant sits too.

This kind of stuff doesn't only go on in Oregon. I saw plenty of the exact same thing in Alaska. The State even had the nerve to ask me to go out in the boonies and run one of these botch jobs, after I had voted against it while working at the State. The task force I had assembled in 1991 to prove the RSDA concept, got a big Alaska/EDA cold storage going again. And the thanks I got was a couple of boneheads in the Division of Business Development ended my Capital Project before I could get the results out. Of course, the big processors had threatened their jobs.

That's one reason it has taken the RSDAs so long to get going, even though they are the best hope for fishermen's survival, and for the health of the communities and all the other infrastructure. BLUNDERING ADDS UP. (That should be one of Murphy's Laws) The state of the fisheries isn't the fault of the fish, or the consumers, or the fishermen, or the weather, or the communities, or Men in Black, or UFOs. The problem is with government and big business; power and money. If you want to help fix problems instead of just talk about them, go there, don't go to the boat harbor. Or maybe camp out around the Governor's mansion in Juneau, like they did in the Ukraine.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Hunting the noble crab rats: Part III

"The Executive is doing exactly what we expected. As the people opposing the ............expose one restriction after another, ..........tries to deflect attention from what are very serious points.

A rational person seeking a birds-eye view of the fishing industry, wouldn't just look straight down with a telescope to focus on the "privatization" tree.

But this time people in coastal areas are ready for them, and every statement and proposal will be analysed very closely. The minister should be protecting the public and bringing forward proposals that will help coastal communities to survive. He is plainly not doing that, so the people have to protect themselves because they have lost faith in the Executive and its advisory groups.”

This sounds like Alaska, but is actually Scotland. We need to do some catching up on the details of why our favorite crab rats are really in this genus and specie, and "analyse every statement and proposal" like the Scots. One of the all-time favorites is of course, Dr. Matulich, of Western Washing State University, the Darth Vader of the crab rats. A reader contributed this case, in a larger treatise on Dr. Matulich's work, for classification purposes.

"For example: Icicle spokesmen have used their investment in processing barges, which they purchased to process Bristol Bay crab, herring and salmon, as an example of assets rendered useless in the Halibut/Sablefish fishery under IFQ's. Dr. Matulich cannot tell if a bad investment was originally made to process Halibut or not, he does not even ask the question let alone attempt to verify the truth of the answer." Obviously it's ridiculous to think the barges had any connection to halibut.

Another aspect of the problem comes from an unlikely direction: fishermen's groups. We keep hearing about United Fishermen of Alaska being in the processors pocket, but here's another one for you regarding the failed buyout attempt by Trident. "Thom Wischer, chairman of United Salmon Association in Kodiak, an organization of salmon fishermen, said today there was not much buzz among fishermen when the acquisition was announced because fishermen expected the status quo to be maintained for at least one fishing season.
“There was a lot of, ‘Gee, I wonder what’s going to happen,’” he said.
With the news that the sale is off, he said he expected similar curiosity but little reaction from fishermen.
“I don’t think there was any great apprehension,” Wischer said."

Not much buzz, my foot! Why does he think the merger was called off anyway? Fishermen told their story to the Department of Justice, that's how. This Thom guy must either be really dense and have his head in the sand, in which case he's about as useful to fishermen as barnacles. Or he is playing along with Trident's downplaying of the event and thereby seeking to join the ranks of the nobility. Bruce Schactler ditched the heart and soul of the "association concept" a long time ago as it's leader, now this guy is trying to complete the "linkage" to processors, as a favor to fishermen!

Speaking of "linkage" to processors, notice that the term isn't used much anymore due to it's negative conotation of making serfs out of fishermen. Now the hip term is "regional fisheries associations." "Rationalization" is even being downplayed if my antennae is serving me correctly. Too easy to be called a rat for bandying the term around. These terms are about "privatization" of the public fish resources. The proponents are still fishing for a term that will work to sugar coat the posion, so they can get it down the patient before he gags, spits it out and it can't do it's work.

My contention is that MSA reauthorization "crab rats" are using "regional fisheries associations" now because of how close it sounds to Regional Seafood Development Associations. The RSDAs are taking root peacefully in Alaska, were formed by the State Legislature, and being better understood all the time as a very positive step to help fishermen. So, along comes the crab rats to co-opt the name to make stealing from the poor and giving to the rich sound warm and fuzzy.

"Regional fisheries associations" refers to the fact that there are regional federal fisheries management councils to manage the fish resources of the United States, not regions IN those regions, like the RSDAs are in Alaska. And the use of the term "association" is just way bad. "Associations" in this country are groups of people that come together of their own accord to used their collective resources to better themselves individually. Even darkest Africa is forming all kinds of Associations to further the lot of human beings that engage in the same activity. Not so with RFAs. They would force many human beings to serve one human being, with that blueprint duplicated a number of times in a federal fishery management region.

Another point of order: Laine Welsh should know better than reprint something like this statement: While crab fishermen have an injury rate of nearly 100 percent, they can also support their families for an entire year through just a few months of work," an article said. She lives in Kodiak and hears how crewmen make about one fourth of what they did before privatization of the crab resources in the Bering Sea. Trident will want to hire her too at that rate.

Another reader provides more ammunition in our quest for that other elusive crab rat, John Iani, the attorney/executive director of another high-faluti'n sounding slush fund to lobby for fish "privatization." John was the one who testified before the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council that there wasn't any "consolidation" going on in the processing sector. We listed fifteen or twenty processors who have gone away in a previous blog/column. Guys like this can be made to say anything, since they don't stand for anything and may not know anything about the industry either. Here's ANOTHER list of (24) processors who have gone away.

Speedwell, Clipperton, Double Star, Royal Aeutian, Northland, Polar Ice, Teddy, Alaska Star, Sea Producer, Denali, Yukon, Nicolle N, Polar Bear, Omnisea, City of San Diego, Theresa Lee, Nothern Alaskan, Yardarm Knot, Alaska Shell, All Alaskan (1), All Alaskan (2), Tempest, Woodbine, Mokuhana.

I didn't see the Nelco II on these lists I was sent. It was probably renamed after I was rushed down to East Anchorage Cove on Unimak Island to show them how to tell bright dogs and sockeye apart in 1970. The good news is that the used floater lots are full, for those hundreds of seiners who got blackballed by the processors. Just form a REAL association, get a USDA pack loan based on YOUR fish, and go shopping for a floater. Remember, the processors get their pack loans in the spring based on FISHERMEN'S fish, and then they turn around and do them in.

The processors whine about needing protection through "privatization" of the fish stocks. If they had done a good job of product development and marketing all along they wouldn't need politicians to jerk away free enterprise and capitalism in the seafood industry. Remember, society will be better served with a strong fishing sector than a strong processing sector by a factor of at least ten. That proof is coming from a University (not near you) soon. Alaska's Governor Murkowski shouln't only be stopped from doing any more damage on oil issues, he should be locked out of his office so he won't ruin the rest of coastal Alaska, and that goes for other crab ratz politicians we all know.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

"Property and Fisheries for the 21st Century"---a scientific paper

The rest of the title of this 39 page paper is: Seeking Coherence from Legal and Economic Doctrine.

As the few remaining shore based companies control more of these kind of boats to harvest their "private stocks," they use their pushing power to seek even more "private stocks."

The authors are Seth Macinko, Assistant Professor in the Department of Marine Affairs, University of Rhode Island, and Daniel W. Bromley, Anderson-Bascom Professor of Applied Economics, University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Too bad we can't publicly examine that paper by that Darth Vader of economists that was used by the "Processors Council" to gain title to the pollock and crab. His University received truck loads of money from big companies privately seeking the fish resources for themselves. Alaska state government knew this too, but wouldn't tell the commercial fishing public.

I'm just going to copy the first page of this 39 page paper, and provide a hyper-link to the rest of the paper on PDF so you can print it out. Put it in the magazine rack in the head until you're done with it. Unfortunately the saying will probably be true, "The more the information, the narrower the audience." If nothing else, make sure those high-flying representatives of ours in Congress puts this in the mix in the MSA reauthorization debates. And go the the June NPFMC meeting and read your three minute speech to counter all the lies that are forming fisheries policy.

This paper provides an opportunity to offer what the Hollywood crowd might call a prequel--an account of logical antecedents that contributes to fuller understanding. Recently, we have challenged the reigning orthodoxy in fisheries policy by rejecting the twin notions that fisheries management in the United States is afflicted by a property rights problem, and that the solution to current woes is to be found in the creation of private property rights. The purpose in this paper is to extend our previous argument by examining antecedents we were not able to fully explore in our earlier work. We then extend our overall argument by emphasizing how new possibilities for fisheries policy have been precluded by old understandings. A bit of background will help set the stage for readers who are unfamiliar with debates over fisheries policy.
Emphasis on "rights-based fishing" is ubiquitous in contemporary discussions of fisheries and ocean policy. We argue that the rights-based fishing movement is hegemonic(dominant) and conceptually flawed. The conceptual flaws are both legal and economic in nature and result in a severe constriction of apparent policy options. Anyone interested in fisheries resources is essentially offered a stark policy prescription for the future: privatize or perish.
"Privatization" as such is not usually the key term employed. Instead, policy discussions are dominated by phrases such as "rationalization," "IFQs" (individual fishing quotas) and, of course, the aforementioned rights-based fishing. But closer inspection reveals a clear, systematic emphasis on the introduction of private property rights as the necessary condition for salvation from the world's fishery problems. Even those who follow fishery policy only sporadically should be particularly clear on this point; prevailing policy prescriptions for the future rest squarely on calls to introduce private property rights into ocean fisheries. Moreover, the policy prescriptions emanating from the rights-based fishing movement suggest that these developments are just temporary waypoints on the path to privatization of "what really counts," the marine ecosystem itself.
It's going to be daunting to plow through this report, but if you can bait hooks all day, you can read this and do something about it. The alternative is to let NOAA plaster no-trespassing signs all over the North Pacific with Rising Suns and Trident logos on them, like they did in the Bering Sea. If you don't believe me, call Bob at Aleutians East Borough at (907) 274-7555.
Another good resource is "Salmon Wars" by Dennis Brown and is available from Dennis tells me he was up to his eyebrows in fisheries politics in British Columbia. Canada started seeing the decline of the "fishing community" of boats and towns long before it started in Alaska.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

AlaskaReport as Fishermen's Forum and Change Agent

The AlaskaReport has become a "change agent" forum like Alaska and the rest of the fishing industry has never seen before.

I don't remember much of how I came to take this picture of setting out on the Kuskokwim, but I'm sure that "red hatted institution of the Kuskokwim," J.B. Crow, had something to do with getting me out there.

What's going on here is the fullfillment of Business Week magazine's prophesy that Blogging will supercede printed matter in importance to democratic institutions. Bloggers aren't in it for the money like editors of print journals. (Test question: what big fish company hired the editor of Alaska Fishermen's Journal and silenced that source of industry news?)

The following (in italics) quotes are from e-mails I've received from readers that symbolize the mercuric rise of our readership. The point is that finally the straight scoop is being told. Until the fisheries political atmosphere changes through winnowing out the chaff, it is apparent that for every fisherman you've got a "Deep Throat," and most of them will eventually write in. “You have to empower people directly before they can fight for themselves” is our motto, and fighting they now are.

"Your doing a great job John. As this project takes up more and more of your time I hope you can figure out a way to make a living at it. I and many fishermen like me agree with you and Vic Smith. I would love for you to somehow get the word out that many of us use the nickname "FOOTBALL HEAD" when we refer to ................. You probably don't know that football head has turned into one of biggest creek robbers that Alaska has ever seen. Another sore point with this guy is his tender manipulation since he has cannery management in his back pocket. Lots of complaints ------ enough for now." (Amazingly, he is like the Samuel Adams beer commercial, with a twist, "He's always a good choice," to represent fishermen. Go figure, it hurts the Governor as much as it does fishermen to keep appointing him.)

"Keep up the good work you are an enlightening source."

"John - your latest piece screams WOW! Wonderful and strong through its entire read... a piece that is well-organized and presents a powerful argument that should hit home with State legislators.This is a superb effort. Bring on more of the same!"

"You do reach folks... well. Keep it up!"

"Just had to let you know I find your website, especially your Blog, interesting. Gotta love those fishery politics?"

"When you become effective the SOB's take shots at you. The smear by the head of the UFA is a good omen. His vast stock holdings which will appreciate in value as processor shares kick in make him a particularly vulnerable hypocrite."

"Thank you so much for helping to get the word out about the Bristol Bay RSDA. It is a huge struggle reaching 1858 driftnet permit holders (not to mention another 1000 setnetters) scattered from hell to breakfast – each with a different idea about how things should be improved in the Bay. As a gillnet fisherman friend once said to me; "Fishermen, when threatened, do the right thing – they grab their guns and circle the wagons. But then they start shooting inside the circle – at colleagues not at the threat”

"Alaska should be proud of Enge! ("Outsiders" are...) Hey, check out Terry Haines' blog writing too..."

"John, that's some great blog work!!! UFA leadership was almost the litmus test for corrosive anti-competititive forces harming fishermen, and without open criticism, the few good folks still around won't be able to rise... but with so much processor yeast in the UFA cake, well, Enge's right, ... UFA has to go. A new, true fishermen association (no processors allowed) has to take its place, one that represents all fishermen of all gear types. And there are plenty of global issues to deal with from ATP and the Raising of Ex-Vessel Prices realm to stopping MSA Reauthorization as a cover for Cartelization... etc."

"John Enge's blog is a good read!"

"Finally, along comes a fish blogger we've long awaited reading (well, he's been around awhile, but boy has his writing gathered speed), in a person who can't be labeled a whistle-blower..."

"I've passed your blogsite on to others here, they all love it and recognize the mismanagement of the NPFMC and a need for change."

From the United Kingdom: "Keep up the good work in that godforsaken wilderness."

"I am the fellow who objected to your use of the word 'Irregardless.' I'll advise my neighbor of your blog site."

"Well said."

"Happy New Year and I really enjoy your insight on this issue."

"Thanks a million for this wonderful message John..All I can say is wow! "

"First of all I'd like to thank you for your blog. I find it very interesting and more often than not, thought provoking. Your site (via Ak. is usually my first stop when I fire up the computer."

"Well, you are after all one of the pioneers in the 'new media' wave John.. Remember what I told you a long time ago. Just sit down and write.. You're damned good at it, and you do have a story to tell. With the amazing technology becoming available to the public at this time in our history, they will come to you.."

Etcetera, etcetera.