Friday, April 18, 2008

Who has the trump card in fisheries policy?

There's a saying that "if the footmen weary you, what are you going to do when the horsemen come"? If you're a fisherman, the horsemen are here already. The ecology may be the National Marine Fisheries Service's responsibility, but from these examples, you might find them packed in with the other horsemen.

We wonder if the "media" is such a 'shallow Hal' as to agree with the NMFS that electronic observation of bottom trawled areas trumps the visual means of using diving spheres like last summer in the Bering Sea. You just never read about NMFS hyjinks specifically and separately from their 'Councils'.

"Judge Oliver Wanger of the U.S. District Court in Fresno sided with a coalition of environmental groups, commercial fishermen and Indian tribes, which contended the department's plan left too little water for the chinook salmon run. Wanger remanded the NMFS opinion, questioning the logic of its conclusion -- that killing half the salmon population wouldn't hurt the species."

That's the logic that has killed off hundreds of other salmon runs. When the first half is gone, someone else decides that killing half the remainder won't hurt, and so on. The stakeholders aren't taking it seriously and the media hasn't made the connection between the New Bedford Petition and this latest Judicial rebuke of the NMFS.

NOAA has hired a global warming coordinator, but it is seen as too little, too late. And the guy surely won't change the culture of the whole of NOAA Fisheries. Only Congress can do that, and that is what the Petition is all about. One incensed fisher-wife went out and quickly got 300 signatures for the Petition. I know a whole bunch of Alaskans that are fix'n to make that an exercise in futility by keeping their heads down.

The subject of Congressional oversight keeps coming up. Another article from the East Coast said this. “The Massachusetts groundfishing fleet, and the communities that depend on the fleet for their economic vitality, have suffered unduly from federal fishing restrictions that have also failed to achieve the goal of reviving fish stocks. ...... the federal regulatory system needs to be fixed for the long term. ”

Do you agree with the National Marine Fisheries Service on Puget Sound king salmon protections? "Essentially, the Fisheries Service argues that allowing too many fish to return would be a waste, because the current habitat is so degraded that it can't support more spawning fish." You can just imagine them saying that too when the Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay wipes out a salmon run or two, or three.

Or get this Administration rejection of getting serious about overfishing and global warming effects on the fishing industry and coastal communities. "Democrats, led by panel Chairwoman Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam), said the legislation is needed to address overfishing, climate change, pollution and other threats to ocean health and the nation’s marine economy."

Or do you believe the new Acting Director of the National Marine Fisheries Service, Jim Balsiger, when he says that surveying the bottom of the Bering Sea for damage by trawling is best done from the surface? This was in response to citizens who privately financed looking at the bottom with video equipment and eyeballs. Would he be trying to hide his poor job of protecting the ecosystem? Under his watch, so few king salmon escaped the trawlers to go up the Yukon River that the Canadian Native fishers didn't get any at all last year.

I maintain that a fifth grader could see that politics motivates the NMFS more than science does. The debates in Kodiak between the contenders for the lone Congressional seat from Alaska decidedly leaned toward local prosperity as opposed to Seattle and Japanese prosperity. The lone apologist for the raping of the North Pacific in that debate was current Congressman Don Young. Did anyone mean to give the fisheries 'trump card' in Alaska to a couple of politicians who are under federal investigation for corruption? And why should the public have to petition Congress to save it's food supply and jobs anyway?

The disgusting part of the pillage is that Alaska's congressional delegation is trying to hang onto their jobs at the cost of many thousands of jobs for Alaskans, and hide the fact with pork. And none of the state agencies want to piss off the pope, Ted Stevens that is. So the public is unaware that billions are lost from the Alaska economy through abusive transfer pricing, lack of new product development and value adding in-state, flight of resource ownership out of state, trading free market capitalism for oligarchies, and using untold millions of dollars of taxpayer money to pay fishermen to give up so the remaining few can survive the low prices paid for the fish and crab.

Here's one concrete thing a reader can do; send a comment to NMFS telling them to stop the bottom trawlers in the Bering Sea from destroying the bottom any more than they already have. Written comments, identified by 0648-AW06, must be received by 21 April 2008 and may be sent via the Federal eRulemaking Portal website at

The capstone for many or our frustrations, and many economic graves, was NMFS hiring a wheat-belt economist to bring to Alaska his bought and paid for 'two-pie system' of sharing the crab. Here's the story on why these kind of economic theories are dead wrong and how you end up with thousands of unemployed fishermen and lower prices at the stroke of a pen, even with the fish stocks the same.

"But as this discussion will demonstrate, there is a large problem here that should be cause for great concern: Neoclassical economic theory is predicated on unscientific assumptions that massively frustrate or effectively undermine efforts to implement scientifically viable economic policies and solutions." When you have a theory that says there is no limit on natural resources, or environmental vulnerability, it's easy to just say, "lets divvy up two pies instead of one." Something's bound to give. On this one I think I'm as smart as a fifth grader.