Friday, June 30, 2006

Alaska Department of Fun and Games?

"March 1996 - Plaintiffs learn that Exxon secretly settled out of court before trial with seven large seafood processors for $70 million, but the processors retained a right to a share of the $5 billion punitive damage award and would kick back their share to Exxon."

Oregon State University, my alma mater, thinks ocean mapping will help manage fish and add value too.

No comment, except how did they get paid and not the fishermen? The processors have banded together into the PSPA, that's how. Alaska fishermen have 60 or so different organizations.

"Here's an article that you can feel good about. A reader tells me I have tended to get more strident in my old age. And he's right. But it's designed to get fishermen to think outside the box and contribute their experience and ideas as well. I've meant to say this, that this article is the type of information I'd rather be dealing with. But if we don't tip the balance of power towards the fishermen and communities, the 99% of the human element of the industry, the rest of this is a moot point.

This article has to do with a revolution in fisheries management (as opposed to fishermen management). It has to do with an Oregon State University project of mapping the exact migration paths of fish. Then when they are caught, you put a bar code on the fish and all along the supply chain someone can have the whole history of the fish.

When the customer gets the fish, he could get a print-out of the life story of that fish and the fisherman that caught it. Apparently California, Washington and British Columbia have similar programs going. I don't know if Alaska does, but it sure would help the Pacific Salmon Treaty folks and all salmon management in Alaska. The Treaty folks get together every year and shout and shake their fists at each other over who is catching who's trans-boundary king salmon and sockeye.

I take it back, they are doing a similar study on halibut in Alaska. But it's usually the International Pacific Halibut Commission that does halibut studies. Sometimes you wonder about the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Take this letter we got from a reader:
"To Whom it may Concern:
I am a former ADF&G technician who made complaints about a hostile work environment that unreasonabley prevented me from doing my job. As a result obligations to the Pacific Salmon Treaty were not fulfilled. This was in 2002. The three year cycle of coho now indicates that this suspension has adversely affected the gillnet fishery in two areas, Upper Lynn Canal and Taku inlet where there were poor returns contrary to predictions.

With training including several upper division and graduate level biology and fishery management classes, I would take offense to people using the phrase "Department of Fun and Games." I now know that this is a more appropriate name for the department's $50 million spent annually.

My union would not represent me, and their turmoil, and takeover by Admin officials indicates a level of corruption. I reported this to the Racketeering Agents of U.S. Department of Labor in Seattle, who said they would not investigate Labor Management Corruption, but were interested if there was evidence of pension fraud.

Without knowlege of this I promised them that knowing the individuals I had dealt with, this was likely. Some research of the $5.7 billion, forwarded to the agents preceeded the announcement of last year's special session of the legislature by a few weeks. The main agenda was PERS, which had not even been on the back burner at the start of the session.
I invite any interest in the corrupt practices I have experienced at the ADF&G, and feel free to contact me for any information I may provide."

This should be answered by someone and not just go into a black hole. Like we heard that private persons were using mechanized earth moving equipment in the Stikine-Leconte Wilderness area. Well this reader is in good company. I was shunned by state government for proposing a new marketing concept for fishermen 15 years ago.

The processor's lobbyist had threatened my superior's job if state commercial fisheries development work didn't match their agenda. And I had taken a different tack after studying the fisheries infrastructure situation for a year and an half straight than what the Division thought was important. So the RSDAs could have been a unified voice for fishermen and been generating top dollar for fishermen for many of the last wasted 15 years. Maybe even had the clout to get Exxon to pay up. Been there, done that, dear reader.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Cool Wind Blows over the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council

They must have put up a giant marquee on the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. to announce instructions to the world. That must be where Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner McKie Campbell got the notion that "Congress is instructing us."

Tony Knowles launching pad for governor the first time, a deli and cafe.

“Congress has instructed this council to be doing what we’re doing. I understand there are a lot of you who wish that we weren’t doing it, but frankly, that’s not an option." Campbell said. Like I said before, without the benefit of this direct quote, the state is telling fishermen, (95% of them anyway, by witness accounts) TO GO JUMP IN A LAKE. And Gov. Murkowski wants fishermen to vote for him? And don't worry about the so-called United Fishermen of Alaska, they don't live in Alaska so can't vote. The AlaskaReport poll shows fishermen don't support him in the least. The few people who chose him in the poll are probably state employees or military.

Back to the point. There is no marquee, of course, just like Congress isn't instructing the Council. The Magnuson-Stevens Act isn't reauthorized yet. What we see happening is that Alaska's U.S. Senator, Ted Stevens, is telling them what to do to help his big money friends in the fishing business, like his big oil friends. And if they don't do what he says, then by golly, they won't get any more bridges to friends and relatives remote properties. (And they called them "bridges to nowhere"!) That doesn't amount to "Congress" Mr. Campbell.

The problem Mr. Campbell has is that he is put in a position to lie to cover up a fraud on the independent Alaska fishermen, and the young men that might want to carry on the fishing tradition. The big frustration stems from the fact that there is no solution to a fraud. There is no way to justify theft. How much more plain can it be? Read up on the privatization of common property natural resources and you'll quickly see that it is just flat wrong. There are other ways to manage fishermen (notice I didn't say fish) without all the unintended conseqences.

Like in, well Mr. Smith, we killed the cancer in your wife, but unfortunately she died. And in the meantime the current Governor has sanctioned all the communities in Coastal Alaska to start this giant squabble over shares of the fish, since that's the direction this administration chose to go. At that rate, you won't be able to get any two mayors or fishermen in the same room. We already saw it happen with the Native villages fighting among themselves. This privatization just leads to a what looks like a pack of hyenas on a carcass on the Saranghetti Plain. No way to BUILD anything enduring.

Fortunately, a cool wind blew, and the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council cooled it's heels on giving away yours and my fish up there until next December. By then Mr. Perk Stevens might have the give-away chiseled in stone in Washington D.C. But the good news is that all the serious candidates for governor, except Tony Knowles, take a dim view of the whole idea. They were all at the Kodiak gubernatorial debate. Which wasn't really a debate, because none of them are all that versed in the intacacies of the Council process and it would have been embarassing for all of them.

On a final note, it has been trumpeted that environmentalists are pleased with the version of the Magnuson-Stevens Act that flew through the Senate on gossamer wings. It barely is an improvement in fish protections, and throws the doors wide open for the theft of fish from the common property, by large Japanese companies in Dutch Harbor and other large nonresident entities. (It could come to a state near you too.) But that's no concern of the environmentalists being referred to, if any.

The ADF&G Commissioner wants people to give him solutions. Fat chance. Been there, done that. What happens is that it gets written up all cockeyed, then when it get's shot down, it's the idea's fault. No, Mr. Campbell we'll just wait to throw you out.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Endorsing the Alaska candidates and Who is the United Fishermen of Alaska?

"As governor, I will fight for the fishermen who live and fish in Alaska." This is the theme of Sarah Palin's fight song. Well that rules out an endorsement by the UFA right off the bat.

My "missionary work" for Alaska may have started when I flew out to Port Heiden with the pilot for Village Missions in Homer.

That's because it's President is a Seattle boy and his buddies are all Seattle boys. His father, the Chairman of one of the biggest seafood processors in Alaska, lives and works in Seattle and can and does squash disenting fishermen like bugs.

Of COURSE the "vote" (they said they had) was "a forgone conclusion." They didn't say their MEMBERSHIP voted, did they? The leaders had already decided to back the candidate who has been doing their work for them all along, the current governor. Where does that leave real Alaska fishermen? 95% of Kodiak fishermen are opposed to Governor Murkowski's fisheries policies for one thing.

Petersburg fishermen that were backing an alternative marketing structure in Southeast Alaska, one that has proven to be the best in the Lower 48, suddenly found they were black-balled from selling their herring this spring. And the UFA's leader's base of support is Icicle Seafoods, the home plant being in Petersburg. Ask around in Petersburg, but be careful, Icicle has given stock to many fishermen there and they can't sell the stock unless the company "agrees to the sale." Who do you think has who over a barrel?

When reporters keep quoting the politically adept leaders of the UFA, who have no substantiated base of support, they innocently perpetuate a fraud on the Alaska public. Is that even legal? And OF COURSE the current Governor is FOR seafood marketing, he's probably for apple pie too.

And the UFA leadership says the Governor has fishermen on his Cabinet. If so, why was the state employee that was sent to Kodiak to represent the state, trying to take the fishermen's jobs away from them? Remember, the Governor's idea of fisheries management is to fire 932 fishermen at a time, like in "crab rationalization" to make the fishery easier to manage. Or should we read that be "fishermen easier to manage"?

The following is the kind of correspondence I get from ALASKA fisherfolk, and other ALASKA fisherfolk are telling me they "have lots of complaints" with the UFA leadership. Go figure. I say UFA doesn't represent anybody except the stockholders of Icicle Seafoods, the Seattle fleet and other large Seattle processors.
"John, I think a few more people are reading your stuff than the ones mentioned in your commentary today. I appreciated your perspective about Sarah Palin and that's exactly why I'm supporting her for governor. As a lifelong Alaskan, growing up in the salmon fishery in Bristol Bay, I can tell you we need a governor who will actually do what they say BEFORE the election. I believe that person is Sarah Palin and I've been a supporter since the gubernatorial fisheries debate at ComFish in March. I have met Sarah Palin and she is as open and honest as they come. I'm excited to do what I can to help her become Alaska's next governor.
Thanks for your thoughts."

Dear "Thanks for your thoughts," (actually I know who this fisherperson is) I am discovering from the webmaster that our readership has gone from 30,000 page views a month in Feb. to 300,000 now and should be half a million by next month. (These aren't the "hits" other site architects use to inflate their readership numbers.) And I too stand for what's right, and have been, at no cost to anybody, for a year now with my blogging. I guess you could say I'm a missionary to Alaska, without the mosquito bites though.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Guv and Lite Guv, Live and Let Live

I'm pretty sure my target audience has dropped down to Ted Turnbuckle from Homer and 'Dutch' Degausser from Dillingham who both are on the beach with an ingrown chest hair each.

This old Southeast Alaska school-house was structurally good, but put to a different use. Some fisheries bodies politic in Alaska are the same. They should be sent to the nearest cannery and put on the slime line.

Alaska resident fishermen and coastal Alaska fishermen from other states are off the line, peddal to the metal, in just about all fisheries now. I got some nice chum salmon flown in today to try fixing a few different ways. A hot-shot young Chef here, and myself, have some ideas for finished products.

So I'm down to talking to seafood brokers and retired crabbers. But even retired crabbers are hard to find at their computer this time of year. There's always some deck to climb on somewhere. With all due respect to the Gubernatorial candidates in Alaska, I guess I'll talk politics while the fishermen are gone. This way I'll greatly reduce the chances of them telling policician jokes about me later.

Stephen Taufen's column in AlaskaReport got me going today I guess. My gosh, if Ethan Berkowitz could pull off all that his fisheries advisor told him to say, on the candidate for Governor's behalf, there would be no problems, mate. But ya gotta back up a sec. Tony Knowles doesn't have an agreement with his Lite Guv running mate by a long shot. This prescription for the industry's health could have been gleaned right out of my blog. And to all of a sudden "see their pain" when referring to fishermen he may have talked to recently, where was he the last thirty years?

But back up again. You have the fisheries advisor to Ethan, then the Lite Guv candidate himself, then you have the Gubernatorial candidate. The recommendations came from the advisor apparently. Think how much more stock you put in a member of your immediate family than in a second cousin. Heck, I don't even know any second cousins, much less want them advising me on important matters. Maybe on the brand of hotdogs at some family reunion. Maybe.

If Ethan Berkowitz thinks sending a letter, on what we have been telling him all along, will help him help Tony, well, thats really wishful thinking. Tony has no obligation to use Ethan's plagarized thesis whatsoever. Look at the current Lite Guv, Loren Lehman. He was a setnetter from Nikiski, he's a sharp guy too and a pretty straight shooter, but did that slow down one of the lead architechs of privatization of the resources, Governor Murkowski? Less than a light breeze would a state ferry.

Tony Knowles has shown his stripes the first time, and the second time. You gotta say, fishermen are smarter now. I don't know Sarah Palin, the other leading candidate for Governor of Alaska, but if she just lets these other guys hang themselves like they are doing, she'll win by a landslide.

As Stephen so aptly put it, it's going to take a breakthrough in the ethics arena to straighten out the mess Alaska has gotten itself into. Like that famous Petersburgite, Sue Paulson, said many years ago, "yes, we butter no parsnips." Actually that's a little spin on what she said, but the point is, fishermen (remember the Kodiak NPFM council meeting?) and at least Sarah Palin, have no intention of doing the Texas two-step around all the issues and not be pro-active for Alaska.

Is all someone has to do to turn the state around is sit in the Governors office and say we're going to do the right thing. Tony Knowles had two chances to say that already. Sarah exhibits the desire to be that kind of Governor. Of course those stripes could fall off in half a year, you be the judge. I'm sure not going back up there without a real "right thing" Governor. When I worked for state government I told the Director of the Office of Commercial Fisheries Development, a Dem., that I intended to do the right thing. That got nothing but a howl of laughter.

Do you know how much more productive state government would be if there was a climate of trying to actually help people, and not just buy their affections with a bone or two thrown their way once in awhile? (Mostly this attitude just gives the public white elephants.) And all the time they give away all the meat for political favors. That's what Tony did, remember?

Tony will certainly get all the loot to campaign with. Everybody else is going to have to rely on a lot of volunteers. I remember an old guy standing by the main highway in Juneau for a month before an election and he was leading in the polls a few days before the election. The guy wasn't even a candidate. He was just fooling around.

And look for a lot of folks to be changing their tune slightly with Sarah leading in the polls. It'll be time for some folks in Juneau to start posturing like mad. We just need to remember what they were or weren't saying a few months ago. Maybe I'll quickly go to Juneau and make up a title like, "President of the American Fish and Shellfish Harvesters Union Amalgamated, LTD." like so many other political aspirants do. Heck, nobody ever came around to ask if there was an election anyway.

The only legitimate voice for fishermen are the Regional Seafood Development Associations which are state sanctioned, and who monitor the elections. What few of them there are, anyway. But like I hear, the young fishermen didn't cut their teeth on a mandatory tax for "fuzzy marketing." They are the ones who object to a 'new tax.' It's not much of an issue with the older guys who got used to not seeing 1% of their landings.

And you have areas of the state where there is an unearthly battle for control of the fishermen's "boom-box." I use that expression because my two kids that are in wheelchairs used to fight over control of the boom-box. There wasn't much else to fight over, so the point of simply being in control was pretty plain. Whether any music got going or not.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Celebrate Alaska halibut

This is the most right-on statement about fisheries management that you can get: “Fisheries management is about managing people, not fish,” he says. “If we do that, the fish will take care of themselves.” This statement is from a college professor in Port Townsend, WA who sport fishes for halibut like an addict and has been involved in fisheries management.

I can vouch for Port Townsend having serious sport and commercial fishermen. Years ago I did some vessel refitting there with a MIG welder and fiberglassing materials. This is one of those many little, and big, towns in Washington state that waves farewell to many of it's fathers and husbands in the early spring. As the professor here says, they have a fishing gene that makes them sail for Alaska to earn the family wages in the fisheries.

I must have the gene too. I remember once living on a Kibbutz in Israel and when spring came around, I could almost smell the odors of the Alaska herring fishery wafting in the breeze in the Jezreel Valley. The point is, fishermen just have to fish. Fisheries managers these days (and that is no profession, believe me, politicians control the fisheries, not people who know fish or even fishermen) seem to take some kind of perverse pleasure in putting fishermen out of work

Plant closings from offshoring our manufacturing can be used as comparable attrition. The current bunch of crooks running the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (Ted Stevens, the Governor, the Pacific Seafood Processors Association, National Marine Fisheries Service) just tell fishermen to "get used to it." What does that mean? And what segment of society might fall under their axe next in order to enrich their friends?

Al Gore may not be a lot of things, but he has a point about appointees in the current Republican climate, (not the world climate). He points out that the White House global warming watchdog used to be the disinformation officer for the big energy companies. His job was to downplay the tar out of global warming. Common sense should tell us what kind of watchdog for the public that makes.

Same as with the federal fisheries management councils. The appointees come in from a career in strong-arming everyone to get what they can out of the fishing business, and guess what? They keep on doing the same thing in their new position as lawmakers. Is that a surprise for anyone? Democratic Governors of Alaska started the give-away trend in the Council as far as state administrations go. It's not a partisan thing.

It's a ethical thing. I would hope that voters this summer in Alaska go with ethics for a change, or Alaskans will be back to hand trolling out of rowboats and weaving grass baskets for a living. So far I'm encouraged. Sarah Palin of Wasilla is the ethics candidate for Alaska Governor and is miles ahead in the AlaskaReport poll.

A fishing family that loses it's source of livelihood to 'privatization' doesn't care how many other people government policies have put out of work, they just know they are now broke. This happened a lot with halibut crewmembers. Many men supported families by crewing on halibut boats. Not so anymore. To get a crew job nowadays, a lot of skippers require you to bring some private quota shares to the table to get a job.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Fishing Vessel 'Alaska Don'

Sen. Ted Stevens (R Alaska) thinks of himself as the 'Godfather of Alaska,' that the Governor can't run the state, and Alaskans would be in a world of hurt if he didn't provide frequent pork.

The owners of the big seafood processors in Alaska own boats too. Lots of them. I put in a dozen summers at this plant and others.

I'm tell'n ya, he's got the first two right, but Alaskans would be ten times better off if he would simply forget the pork and quit giving away all the resources to big corporations. Ted, let ALASKANS figure out how to make money off their natural wealth, it may take longer, but they will end up with something and not noth'n.

Maybe Alaskans ARE a little slow to develop resources themselves. Until WWII there were hardly any people up there. Just moose and bears and other four legged and finny critters. A lot of foreign nations and other states had well-developed capabilities to extract Alaska's resources, in terms of capital and modern equipment, none of which Alaskans had. In the case of the huge fisheries resources in the Bering Sea, Alaskans let Seattle companies with their foreign backers in. What a mistake that was.

Those companies are now able to dominate the federal fisheries management process and exclude Alaskans. The current Governor, Frank Murkowski, the former Alaska Senator, and Alaska's own Sen. Ted Stevens are actually directing traffic in this monumental give-away. What do they get out of it? Plenty, it turns out. Here's a letter sent to me by a reader on this subject.

"John, I thought some of your readers might like this check list titled "How to bribe a Politician"

See if this applies to anyone we might know. This is a must do for big companies planning on working in any Natural Resources in Alaska.

#1 Hire a son when he is young, it is very important to get him young for many reasons, like to train him in ethics, or to train him before someone else does.

#2 Hire a wife, this works really well when she is already an "expert in government relations" for one of the biggest law firms in the world, 1400 lawyers in one group.

#3 Hire his wife's brother, this works well if he already has a law firm, with lots of native corporation clients.

#4 Make him a pile of money without risk, this is easy to do if you already have a sure-fire real estate deal, fully funded. Try for $1,000,000 on a $50,000 "investment."

#5 You can always loan him the $50,000 to put into the deal as a non-recourse loan, that way he can't possibly "lose money."

#6 Hire his son because of his "business experience," make sure your company spokesperson never ever says the word 'lobby' when asked about the son's total lack of knowlege.

#7 Have oil companies hire the relatives of his son's wife, this is good as it's hard to track down, that way not so many questions by nasty press.

#8 If you are the owner of a really big company, have your son work as a staff member for an important Senator, this is helpful as later your son will have super access anytime.

#9 Give him stock picks when you know your own stock is going up during an IPO, and just like #5 you can loan him the money to buy your stock.

#10 Give him total free access to the company jet, both for him and his family. Make sure you forget to file the reports on jet useage, because "he will."

#11 Make sure that jet is top of the line, because a lot of people and companies are standing by to have the honor of flying such a man.

#12 Host dinners in his honor, give him awards and plaques, surround him with loyal followers, if possible name a few airports, boats and research stations after him.

#13 Hire his former staff members who just happen to be partners with his son, pay him huge amounts of money, it will find its way to the right place.

#14 Go into partnership with former staff members to buy real estate since they know ahead of time where the government is planning to buy.

#15 If possible go into partnership with staff and relatives, this is good even if the investment goes bad, then you can bail them out. Now you own them.

#16 Ask him to change tax laws so you can steer all those tax dollars that would have been lost into University of Alaska because you need to build a huge library in honor of him.

#17 Note that this a twofer, as the University economists now become very careful about being on the wrong side of pending resource allocations.

#18 Offer to help his son become the next "whatever he wants"

#19 Help him create his own foundation, you can hide anything, pay anything, and best of all, you do not have to worry about those pesky flight reports when you fly him on foundation business.

#20 Discuss the larger-than-life (!) statue of him, designed to be the centerpiece of his new wing of the University library. This is particularly effective."

The 'son' mentioned in this piece has started down the same slipery path to having his own boat named after him. Some of his latest antics were written about in the Alaska Almanac, besides being reviewed by the Alaska Public Offices Commission as we speak, for violations of income reporting. Wanna bet the 'other Senator,' the Governor, gets him off the hook. This is important for fishermen and all Alaskans to watch, because he is starting a brilliant career, as a chief resource peddler to large out-of-state corporate interests.

"40-0 -- Vote in Alaska House May 7 to pass a bill that included identity theft notification and protection measures.
6 -- Number of times Senate President Ben Stevens May 9 declined to acknowledge the House-passed identity theft bill.
13-7 -- Vote in the Senate to force Sen. Stevens to acknowledge the bill so the Senate could take action on it.
3 -- Number of committees to which the president then assigned the ID theft bill, killing the measure, rather than allowing the full Senate to vote on it."

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Celebrate Salmon!

"Every May, there's a big homecoming in Alaska, and everyone and their mother in the lower 48 wants an invitation. From now until the kids go back to school, the cold waters of the Copper River are chock-full of returning salmon preparing for their upstream spawning and egg-laying ritual.

This is an old picture of gillnet caught salmon in a cannery fish cart. RSDA fishermen can now start to benefit from taking better care of their fish. It just can't happen without that mechanism. Any region without an RSDA is either intimidated by the processors or the fishermen don't know what they're missing.

Meanwhile, we mere mortals in places where wild Atlantic salmon has gone the way of the eight-track tape wait with baited breath for the first arrival of the most glorious, gorgeous, rhubarb-colored piscatorial flesh on earth.

With names like Chinook (aka king), chum, Coho (aka silver), pink and sockeye, Alaskan salmon is like a royal family that temporarily opens the palace to the masses to show them a taste of the good life. And because its ruby-pink meat is rich and flavor-intense, the wild salmon needs little dressing up in the kitchen and will shine even with a spritz of salt, pepper and olive oil.
The recipe below takes the cook on a spice route, as if that salmon were on a magic carpet ride to the shores of the Indian Ocean."

Flowery speech is a requisite of marketing types, and some journalists it seems. But you can't knock it. The trouble is, salmon harvesters and processors wouldn't be caught dead talking like this. It's a guy thing. Especially a fish cowboy thing. But hey, aren't these the guys that are supposed to be the brains behind salmon marketing, since they have the biggest stake in it? Fishermen now have Regional Seafood Development Organizations and the processors have the State's marketing institute. Maybe the fishermen will "get it," whereas the processors never did. Up until recently the processors had the State tax the fishermen, to pay ASMI, to do marketing for their newly acquired packs.

So I hope some of them learn the language of marketing themselves and not rely on professional 'flowery speech people' to do the job. It isn't rocket science. It's a lot of calling the food writers before the tuna-fish people get to them and finding out what product forms people want to eat. That kind of thing. But there will be a lot of in the trenches market research needing to be done on an ongoing basis, especially by the RSDAs. I'm not convinced that the processor dominated State marketing board will want to share this information. They have always used ASMI as a way to solidify their position.

Check out the owners of Sitka Sound Seafoods and their latest product development work. I hear now that a big Chinese manufacturer is going to add this stuff to their products. This may be the forerunner of putting all kinds of marine by-products in all our food, like they put Vitamin D in milk, etc. Why didn't Alaska think of this first?

Ocean Nutrition Canada Limited is a privately held company, whose major shareholder is Clearwater Fine Foods Incorporated. Clearwater Fine Foods Inc. is a diversified holding/investment company whose significant holdings include a controlling interest in Clearwater Seafood's Limited Partnership, one of the world’s largest integrated shellfish harvesters and processors. Clearwater Fine Foods Inc. also holds a controlling interest in Ocean Nutrition (Canada) Limited. Ocean Nutrition Canada researches, manufactures, and markets Omega-3 concentrates and other marine based natural ingredients for dietary supplements and foods. ONC exemplifies scientific rigor in discovery and research programs, along with world leading regulatory and quality compliance standards. For more information on the health benefits of MEG-3® ingredients please visit

But for real salmon afficionados, this link to in-season salmon prices paid to fishermen in Alaska is cool. It is compiled by a research firm in Juneau, (they just call fishermen all over Alaska and ask them what they got paid.) And you can't beat the good 'ol Alaska Department of Fish and Game In-Season Summaries. The weelky summaries have all the information you care to read about Alaska salmon fisheries; numbers of boats, prices paid, harvest size, times and durations of openings, etc. And all broken down by area of the state. Even by fishing district within each area. Very cool.

Any more, I check the web cam for Petersburg right before I call my parents, so I can comment on the weather instead of asking what the weather is doing. This spring there has been some nice weather up there and I could see a few sport boats, maybe they were commercial, fishing around the mouth of "the Narrows." Now that's my cup of tea. So the thing is to just wait until you see boats fishing in Petersburg's web cam, with nice weather, then boogie up there that afternoon and rent a skiff for the next morning's bite.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Does Fish and Game really want local control? Not

This article in SitNews caught my eye for it's contradictions by a Alaska Fish and Game employee. To use a phrase my son's shop teacher in Petersburg used, "he's all over the place like a fart on a skillet."

Even Port Alexander needs to write letters, and vote August 22.

Come on now, does the Governor want local control back from just from Washington D.C. or does that include from Seattle processors too? I suspect just the former.

Look at the last statement about regional fishery management councils. ADF&G (the Governor) wants the NPFMC to have juristiction over offshore aquaculture in Alaska. And, of course, the big processors control the Council, just like they do the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, the Governor, etc. So, if there ever is offshore aquaculture, you can bet the big non-resident processors will get that too.

"Local control is, from our perspective and in our experience, key to long-term conservation of resources and public acceptance of any development that takes place." Bedford also urged the council to consider local participation in any future legislation. "We believe that the regional fishery management councils should be given jurisdiction over aquaculture operations," he said.

I think this Administration is going to be remembered as the one that tried to give all of Alaska away. How would you compare it. To inviting every addict in town to come over to help clean out your house? Blowing your locust call just when your crops are ripe?

You must have read Kim Elton's piece about the gas contract with the oil companies being like the monopolies on resource extraction in Alaska before WWII. The Guggenheims and J.P. Morgan had whatever the Alaska Packers Association didn't want. I've blogged about the classic Alaska movie "Ice Palace" that characterized the struggle between the fishermen and the big Seattle fish company. It's a sick, greedy mindset that has such a willingness and capacity to harm innocent lives. That's what privatization of the resources does.

Tony Knowles started the give-away ball rolling in the fisheries when he was first Governor. It's a lead-pipe cinch that Murkowski won't beat a moralist like Sarah Palin in the Primaries August 22. But God help us if we get that other monopolizing candidate Knowles back. Is all I can say is fishermen better get their act together this time.

And I don't mean the Samuel Adams--'always a good choice' fishermen's leaders whose agenda seems to be to just curry favor with bureaucrats to get state jobs. That old system is broken. The RSDAs need to get to a point of profitability, through selling fish, that they can afford leaders that are paid more than they pay at the state.

I mean the rank and file fishermen just need to write letters to editors all over Alaska. Not just Kodiak fishermen. The kind of Governor there is will affect fishermen all over the state. You know that regulations change in even the remotest part of the state. Those fishermen out there will want fair laws.

I've been a fisherman so I know that the drive you develop to harvest fish pretty much makes you have tunnel vision. You push everything out of your mind to focus on fishing, including politics (maybe especially politics). But if you don't want the next Governor to be giving away your fish, start thinking about a letter to the editor. If fishermen get a Governor with integrity, (that would be a switch), then they can start taking control of the process that improves their lives and the lives of everyone in their community.

Playing a part in the process is the highest calling of a citizen. You can take back your government, but you have to start now and be vigilant always. Because this Administration has taught that relying on others to make your political decisions for you isn't where it's at.

Alaska fishermen will be darned lucky if they don't get their P. cod taken away and given to the plunder boats. This should be a lesson in citizenship. And you know these kind are going to give a ton of money to the sleeze candidate to keep their grip on Alaska resource extraction. That's why you had so much sleeze come out of the woodwork at the last minute to file for candidacy, there weren't any good 'ol pockets running to stuff money into.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Bottom trawling and Sector Management

You don't clear-cut the forest to get the deer, so why decimate the bottom ecology to get at a single species? We never stop and think about what a five ton 'canyon buster' trawl net is actually doing down there. Thankfully, they just closed some areas in the Aleutians that were losing their coral forests real fast.

My favorite picture of the kind of boats that are "hit and run" fishing in Alaska. They don't even fit in the harbors up there.

I worry that in the rush to go after the recovering stocks of Pacific Ocean perch off Alaska, there is going to be a slaughter of innocent creatures. Oh, it's just by-catch you say. I know collateral damage is acceptable in war, who's going to stop it, the enemy? But collateral damage in the fisheries can be prevented. The powers-that-be just don't want to. The target species is most efficiently harvested with trawl gear, so go jump in a lake.

And what about that by-catch anyway? What is it? It's other species that other fishermen target at different times and it comes out of what they can catch later. And given the chance, smaller boats could probably catch "species A" just fine with different types of gear that don't destroy the bottom ecology. Maybe that's what happened the first time they wiped out POP, the food chain got caught up in the dragnet too.

I know they are a long-lived critter, but hey, how's a rock-fish going to make it without his forest? Maybe the question before the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council should be, "Should we bottom trawl at all in the Gulf of Alaska?" One Kodiak dragger testified that he quit bottom trawling because of the greed he saw in a lot of fishermen. That's where the flurry of pro-ratz letters to the editor in the Kodiak Daily Mirror came from; the greedy ones that want a golden parachute. Ecosystem management is the key. "Remember the Klamath."

Bottom trawling for POP catches every other kind of rock-fish, and these species can't take that kind of fishing pressure. And dragging for flat-fish yields an unearthly amount of halibut, that is now worth a fortune, while the target species is next to worthless. You need an attorney to decipher NPFMC Motion 80 on by-catch. I can't say that I've even read all eight pages.

I can see where all this nonsense is leading, straight into court. Just like in Oregon. A judge had to take over the salmon rebuilding efforts on the Columbia because NOBODY could get it right. And there where a dozen or so entities who thought they knew best, and who's influence ebbed and flowed, in the 70 odd years of trying, since the Spring Hogs were wiped out.

And, I don't have to remind that a lobbyist for the big rape and pillage contingent is running things at the NPFMC. Take a look at what a community did back East to take the bull by the horns.

“Things are a lot different from the way they were three years ago,” Parker said, reflecting on recent changes and challenges. Ineffective management and continuing depletion of resources are “combining in ways that are harmful to our local fishing communities.” That’s why sectors make sense. Parker calls them “one of the only bright spots on the horizon” in fisheries management. Sector management makes the most sense if commercial fishing is going to remain a viable industry in New England."

Monday, June 05, 2006

The "Generals of Ratz Debates" continues

"Government has to be an honest broker between greedy special interests and the average citizen." Robert Remini, Historian of the U.S. House of Representatives. I didn't see anywhere in this quote, a provision for greedy special interests to actually MAKE the laws FOR the government. You new United Nations members, do as we say, don't do as we do. The current federal regional fishery management council process is no way to run a railroad. You'll get a Yakutat & Southern Railway, it won't go anywhere except right into the bowels of the big processor.

The MARCO drydock in Seattle was used to haul out a lot of king crabbers.

Another fisherman sent in this response to the king-crabber who helped get MSA going in the first place. It looks like the poor guy is getting ganged up on pretty bad. But in his defense, he was apologizing for pressuring Senator Stevens on crab ratz and then having it turn out so bad, so have to give him some credit. When someone like this says "oops," everyone better just stop the headlong rush (for riches for the few). It's funny how when you get a vision of your last heart-beat you're like Robert McNamara and can't say "oops" fast enough. Thats a good thing. Better late than never. Hear that NPFM Council?

The old saying about the dangers of drinking and blogging are true, the ramblings of your last guest (June 2, last part)are absurd. Dave Benton and Kevin Duffy clearly enriched themselves - Ted gave Benton a cool lighthouse and Chuck took care of Duffy by giving him a cushy high paying job and moving him to Seattle. Get real Tom, Ted does not take orders from these guys, it's just the other way around. It's not surprising that he [boston cab driver] would blame the 2 guys who are pretty much on the sidelines busy picking up their payola.

You would think that he might mention [or blame] Chairwoman Stephanie Madsen's ongoing role, but an out of work lobbyist must not rock the boat. It's much more beneficial financially, to praise the "old man" instead of saying to him, "Senator Stevens, it's time to stop- no fisherman should be forced to sell their catch to a Japanese Company-or worse."

They [Benton&Duffy] did not come up with AFA or the Adak scandal. Crab Ratz was just a follow-up on AFA, just as Gulf of Alaska (privatization) was to dovetail with monopolizing (merging) the last couple of salmon processors. They did not repeatedly add earmarks, which Senator John McCain knocked out of other bills, because of his fear of creating oligarchs, before Ted finally slipped Crab Ratz in on the Omnibus spending bill.

While he claims we were saved by Ted in 1976 from being taken over by "Seattle", I was fishing all over Alaska and there are a now a lot less Alaska owned boats and small businesses in the coastal towns, BY FAR. In fact last year's State of Alaska's own report on employment and ownership points out that only 14% of ALL Bering Sea fish is caught by Alaskans. Which is very optimistic, as almost all boats are now owned and crewed by nonAlaskans. Some of these places now look like ghost towns.

People who would like to believe that, at least with a "compromise," it will not get worse, and they can hold on to what they have, should look at the past. First, the people talking the loudest about how it allows them a more orderly fishery probably have plans to sell out big. These people do not care what kind of mess they leave behind, because they plan on being on the beach in Haiwai picking up lease fees.

Look at Norquest's John Garner. He gave a lot of testimony about how they needed it(processor shares) to survive, all the while trying to sell to Trident. Or how about the Royal Aleutian. It was for sale at $13,000,000-with the capital construction fund[$2,500,000] before processor quotas. Soon after processor quotas, they sold for a huge $33,000,000-to Unisea, who used a group of Seattle fishcrats [for cover].

What is this protection from the Oligarchs with "caps" ? The answer is none at all; it is just window dressing. All you have to do is look at Trident's buying spree of other processors. They do not seem to worry about "caps," and when it comes to vessel's ownership "caps," that is even more of a joke. Do you think Joe Bundarnt's purchase of the F/V Peggy Jo is separate and independent of Trident?

What about crab sideboard "caps." When the AFA pollock boats promised if they got the pollock quota, they would hold where they were on crab rights, etc. But in the fine print, they got thier (crab)share's before CDQ cuts, so the fleet kept shrinking by increasing CDQ. AFA pollock millionaires still had theirs. Since Joe Plesha (Trident's legal affairs person) wrote the Crab Ratz bill, AFA boats sure got alot of crab quota. [Trident owns a lot of AFA boats]

Why should AFA boats be allowed to fish for Cod or Yellowfin sole? How long would cod season be if they were rolled back? What about limiting the fatest cats first? So whatever the processors are telling their fisherman spokesperson, it will be a lie. None of the letters I have read in the Kodiak newspaper's reporting from Ratz supporters seem to mention the other side of the planned Gulf of Alaska Ratz. That is, processors controlling the market share Quota, which is where the real value lies. Please call me when one of these processors is going to sell.

A lot of people now watch the "Deadliest Catch," but what they don't know is that the only boat & crew that are from Alaska is the "Time Bandit" which is now 3rd generation, sadly soon to be last. They can not bring their hard won crab back to Kodiak to sell like they have done for 2 generations.

I now think the problem is, by nature, fisherman tend to hire "lobbyists" to look out for their interests because of several reasons; 1) A lot of these guys have families to raise, along with trying to keep the boat running, bills paid, etc., and they can't be everywhere. Would you spend the one day off with your kids or sit in a room lisenting to bureacrats talking to themselves? 2) North Pacific Management Council makes proposed rules in books that are very complex and hard to read[on purpose] and with unwieldy advisory and scientific panels. 3) N P M C -seem to schedule crab issues during the start of crab season, and ground-fish just before it's start. 4) When they have a planned rule change that put groups of fisherman out of business foreever, it again must be scheduled for Dutch Harbor, where it's hard and expensive to get to.

I honestly think it's time for fishermen to stand up themselves, look the Council members in the eye, and say "NO MORE." Only then will they get a fair shake. Having some lobbyist will not get the job done, because they are part of the problem. By claiming Alaskans sold "us" out goes to your idea of what an Alaskan is. I have never thought some lifelong government bureaucrat like Duffy or Benton is worthy of any respect to begin with. Chuck, he is not from AK.

If your definition of an Alaskan fisherman is a self-made, independent, small businessman, then show me one of those guys who stood up and said he wanted processors to control his life. For a lobbyist who makes his money helping fisherman the past 20+ years you can sing praises of the "old man", but I, for one, think he should be in JAIL along with his kid."

The NPFM Council is taking public testimony today in Kodiak, so this is the last chance for me to put in my two bits. Take a look at this article about Pollock Conservation Corps. (sp?) The pollock fishermen got an award for working together! All kidding aside, I knew it was possible for big boats and small to work together when the chips are down. No need to give away the farm just before the crop comes in.

This divine ear hears that some guys have found a way to catch Pacific Ocean Perch without the need for trawls too. (No, not dynamite) I don't say this too lightly, because I was courted once to be a gear specialist at the Kodiak Fisheries Industrial Technology Center.

More debate on who the Generals of Crab Ratz are

I read the TC "rebuttal" in which he says "Alaskans f..... Alaskans bigtime in Crab Ratz and Benton and Duffy led the charge. That will be my opening statement. Remember, everything is on tape. No speculation necessary. "

Pelican Cold Storage has a backer to get it running this summer. I sold here once and caused quite the stir in the office. Some of them had worked for my dad when he ran the place in the late 40s and early 50s. One of them might have been the one who made up a Fish Ticket on my birth for 'One large baby boy.'

He is right on one point. No speculaton is necessary. Neither is a "tape". Look in the Congressional Record. Last time I looked, Benton and Duffy don't insert riders in Senate Bills. If he listens to the "tape" he will see that it was Ted Stevnes that put the rider in the Omnibus Bill, no Council action necessary. Easy to blame Benton and Duffy, two of the bureaucrat/pawns of the huge multinational corporations, who are now gone to reap the rewards of selling out the independant fisherman of Alaska.

The others will be paid their 40 pieces of silver in due course, I suspect. It defies any possible logic to think that Ted Stevens follows the orders of Duffy and Benton, mere privates in the Crab Ratz War doing just what they are told, certainly not Generals by any stretch. Come on Tom, when it comes to Processor domination, fishermen don't need to fight each other, or bullshit each other either."

And this from another AlaskaReport columnist.

"John, try this for a counter-post from the fleet (a friend called in, and I typed it up for him with a couple of added points he agreed to).

Rumors ain't history. Neither are the tapes from the Council meetings -- they often just record the show being put on. Those familiar with the process have experienced that the behind-closed-doors action is where the gold operates. Benton ran a fairer show than Rick Lauber, the kingpin foreign lobbyist for Pollock ratz. But both served the major processors. You cannot isolate crab ratz from that. It's Lauber's PSPA successor now running GOA ratz.

We're not disputing the kingpin lieutenants and the roles they played, just who are the godfathers.
The mentality of Alaskanization is not only greedy, but unconstitutional. Alaska does not own this fish. The United States does not own this fish. Yes the coastal cities should flourish, but that can only come from returning the wealth there. Dave and Kevin don't have it. Ted and Ben take their own forms of kickbacks, corruption of power and also get other needs met. But the gold lies in overseas bank accounts, jet aircraft, yachts, island retreats, and in Tokyo banks.

Gunnar Knapp's own studies show a $1 billion drop in income on the ex-vessel level from 1992 to 2002. That never happened before. For Ted and Don to let that happen leads to only one conclusion -- if your head isn't buried so deeply "Inside" that you can no longer see "Outside".

If Ted is really for Alaska, then why has he not demanded the two-thirds protection for Alaska? You say it yourself, Ted and Don stole the MFCMA for Alaska. But Ted's entire history is in making billionaires out of the few, from his earliest days at the BLM and beyond. Every time the Japanese processors violated the laws and got in trouble they would call Ted, he bailed them out with special favors. He nearly always told them "I'll do it but this is going to cost you." Unprincipled.

No United States senator should be so far above the laws that the entire Congress enacted. Without a crook like Ted, none of the rationalization could have occurred, and Dave and Kevin would have still been counting fish in rivers, at the ADF&G. There is no hook to let him off of. He's got the rod and reel. And the taxpayers pay for it."

Friday, June 02, 2006

Will the real Generals of Ratz and AFA please stand up; the debate continues

We have a heated discussion going on between readers about who are the real Generals of the give-away of the Bering Sea.

My brothers and I pioneered the S.E. herring gillnet fishery and now the processors won't buy my brother's herring. He was one of those behind the push to get a RSDA for S.E. Why should you do anything for the processors if they are going to come back and bite you.

There are plenty of people to point to. There is such a monumental amount of money involved that armies of soldiers have been less well financed than the "ratz" army. But it is useful to continue the debate so the NEW Magnuson-Stevens Act doesn't make the same old mistakes.

To recap the discussion, a reader wrote in on his involvement in writing the original MSA and strong-arming Ted to get crab ratz, and pleads leniency for (Senator) Ted and (Representative) Don. Readers are not really buying that Ted and Don aren't the real architects, with political ambitions the real motivation. Many hundreds of us have seen with our own eyes the furvor in which Sen. Ted Stevens pursued this goal. But lets not forget the basic principal of corporatism: "He who has the gold makes the rules." There aren't nearly as many strings on the gold of a privately held fish company as federal gold.

Things just don't add up to me. Now you've got his son bucking for another stint as the Alaska Legislature's leading on-the-take candidate. Take a look at this letter I got:

"John, The people of Alaska need to ask only one question of Ben Stevens, what else his he hiding. After all the past issues of hidden options and assets that have only been made public by accidents. Like a lawsuit around the very strange Adak pollock Quota, worth many million's of dollars. Or now after the Vecos; the huge lobbying fees from groups that had asked for and received ungainly new and unusual laws from his father. And finally this newss of unreported $170,000, plus income, from Enstar's parent company.

I woke up thinking this is just crazy; why would he [Ben] now say he does not need to, and much more importantly, says he will not report this "deferred income." Even though it is clear under the [weak] rules that just because you do not pick up your cash, it's still income.
(Those pesky rules.)

Why would the head of the Alaska Senate Ethics Committee take this position after getting caught again? He must, after earning all those millions in "consulting," not lobbying, be able to afford a good lawyer. Why such a stand?

The only answer is there is a lot more "deferred income" out there waiting for him to pick up. How much? The amount could be shocking even for the king of consulting. In fact, it must be huge, or the source very embarrassing to him, otherwise why the stand on "deferred income."

Please Ben, come out of hiding and stand in front of the people of Alaska and declare under oath you do not have more under-the-table deals; that Trevor is not holding assets for you, that you do not have a big bonus waiting from Trident Seafood's.

I can still remember when we had politicians that you could be proud to know, like Jay Hammond, too bad he is not around today."

I can understand our King of Corporatism getting the nickname "Benito," even though Mousolini has been misquoted as saying corporatism and fascism are ideological twins. Enough of Ben Stevens, we were talking about his father. This is the rebuttal to the rebuttal on who are the real Generals of Ratz.

"John, I'll be glad to debate the issue anytime, anywhere with my critic. I'll bring John Bruce, longtime fomer Chairman of the NPFMC's Adivsory Committee, to substantiate my claims about the ringleaders of the Crab Ratz process. My critic better bring Jesus or Moses or Buddha or that beautiful raven-haired empath, Diana Troy, from Star Trek. Alaskans f..... Alaskans bigtime in Crab Ratz and Benton and Duffy led the charge.

That will be my opening statement. Remember, everything is on tape. No speculation necessary. Just roll the g...... tapes.Only Alaskans can repair the crab ratz damage inflicted on their own residents. So let's see if they smarten up by next April's NPFMC meeting when all the chips will be on the table.

As for Ted Stevens, Warren Magnuson, Don Young and Gerry Studds, without their intervention in my life and the lives of all the Kodiak fishermen I represented, I, for one, would probably still be driving a worn-out Yellow Cab back in South Boston and slouching, pie-facced, in the cheap seats at Fenway Park. The Old Man ain't perfect by any means. Neither is Don. Who the f... among us is? But they came through for Alaska residents at crunch time back in 1976 when Seattle's economic colonization of Alaska was right on the verge of solidifying at a much richer level than ever achieved before.

Ask Dr. Lee Alverson, Harold Lokken or Bud Walsh at Davis, Wright, Tremaine in San Francisco. They nearly shit green apples when the Old Man and Don stole the NPFMC from them and took it to Alaska for keeps. I wish George Santayana were still alive to kick my critic's ass. Rumors ain't history. Speculation ain't history, either. History is blood, sweat and tears where the winner takes all and the loser never recovers from his stupidity. That's what history is. So kiss my ass."

I think we are going to find that aspiring candidates for elected office in Alaska, Tony Knowles and Ben Stevens, were at least Full Colonels in this Ratz Army in the past. Fishermen may not be able to stand up now or the big processor down in the harbor will refuse to buy their fish, and tell the other processors to do the same, which is why the NPFMC and the Board of Fish are such a joke. But come election time later this year, anyone who had anything to do with throwing a thousand crab fishermen out on the street and giving billions of dollars worth of pollock to the Japanese will see who's in charge.