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.