Monday, March 03, 2008

Is Corporate Responsibility in Fisheries a Oxymoron?

What's wrong with this statement? "Most recently, Kodiak trawlers tested the waters for a co-op in the rockfish fishery. The slower pace extended the fishery from three weeks to seven months, keeping more seafood workers on the job longer. By fishing cooperatively, the trawlers cut halibut bycatch rates by more than 70 percent."

Could this little former coho stream in Sunset Bay, Oregon possibly, finally, get help from a newly created "Threatened" status in the area? Why there won't be any king fishing on the West Coast this year off OR and CA is only a mystery to newly minted reporters. Hint, all the little run failures add up.

The only thing that might be right about this statement is that Kodiak trawlers initiated "something," albeit, not where the public saw it happen to THEIR fish. (Notice I didn't say, "where the public COULD see," because someone like the FBI might have found out.) I'll also give them that it did stretch out the season, in large part because the processors were busy with salmon.

Basically, a few trawlers agreed to be locked into selling to certain buyers, for whatever was offered for the fish, just for the opportunity to finagle salable rights to the resource later. It is not a co-operative, because it is not a system to compete in a free market by vertically integrating their harvesting businesses. Co-ops, or associations, or combines, or whatever you want to call them, are to bypass other businesses that are unfairly taking advantage of their position in the supply chain. This does not describe the Rockfish Pilot Program whatsoever.

Helping fishermen band together for survival purposes in Regional Seafood Development Associations was what the Legislature wisely saw as a necessary assist in working cooperatively. The Legislature defined what a co-op is with that Bill. But the trawlers in Kodiak went straight to Sen. Ted Stevens to subvert this movement and mint a counterfeit. Thanks for working contrary to the will of Alaskans AGAIN, Ted. And where were you Don?

Look at what some in Britain think about trawling the life out of things.("
Trawling and scallop dredging are to be banned in Fal Bay and the Helford River in Cornwall after conservationists successfully threatened to take the Government to the European Court for failure to protect marine wildlife.") They must have taken to heart the Oregon finding that when you have that kind of trawling, you literally extinguish 30% of the species complex.

And then the feds say not to look at the bottom with your eyes because looking from the surface with electronics is the 'preferred way.'(Jim Balsiger, Acting Director of NMFS) Yeah, the preferred way to hide the truth of the destruction of the marine ecosystem.

Getting back to the Rockfish Pilot Program of the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council being called a co-op. I think it is wholesale irresponsibility of folks to repeat stuff like this for public consumption. One good thing about repeating this drivel is it will keep the power lunches coming. I won't even mention the fallacy of creating more jobs and cutting halibut by-catch. Just ask Global Seafoods of Kodiak.

Since I keep seeing this fiction in the mainstream Alaska media, I have to assume it's a PR campaign. And of course it is, since it is only a 'pilot program' that the newly created closed class of businesses wish to perpetuate and no official endorsement of it's efficacy has been made.

This article was supposed to be about corporate social responsibility. They say that at the heart of every issue is a heart issue. Not that anyone's heart is about to change very soon. It is a consideration, though, when you think about spending time and money barking up this tree or that. But keeping in mind that a corporation doesn't have a heart, there is definitely no percentage in trying to change THAT.

The validity of the arguments of politicians(federal fish managers are in this category), corporations, and us plain folk, can be weighed in the statement,
"— there are elements of reverence, care and respect, even anticipation, that are essential..." The article this statement came from is a must-read for folk in the seafood business. Not so much for our approach to the culinary side, but now more than ever, to the respect-for-the-environment and community side. Everyone has some environmentalist in them, just like everyone has a little vigilante in them.

From New Bedford to Kodiak, fishermen are starting to take a wholistic approach to their businesses, especially when some folks show no reverence, care and respect for them and their crops. Or where their crops live, as well as where they and their families live.