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.