Friday, February 17, 2012

To Kill the Kodiak Economy

Occupy Fisheries is catching on in Alaska it seems. Family fishermen are speaking up in a way I haven't seen in years. For certain these folks have been disenfranchised for shedding light on the plunder of Alaska's fish resources by 'the few,' with help from the stacked government deck, including their own neighbors on important citizen committees. Oh, but the good news is that they 'got theirs.'

I, John Enge, a fourth generation Alaskan fishing industry type, and 'anonymous blogger,' according to one corporate shill, do seem to be getting a lot of letters lately from my correspondents. New web sites and blogs on the subject of corporate take-over of the fisheries are sprouting up too, in what seems to be a Fisheries Spring; the Tholepin blog has been very enlightening, now there is 'Fish Bytes' from a reporter for the Alaska Journal of Commerce, Alaska Dispatch does a good job with general news, There may be others that aren't biased toward the status quo, but these ones are on my radar.

And I have to reiterate what this writer says about the big 'Battle for theGulf' being about Pacific ocean perch. The reportage on the fight for these fish behind closed North Pacific Council doors is non-existent. At stake is a fishery maybe worth more than the pollock fishery in the Bering Sea. The Russians used to catch MANY hundreds of thousands of metric tons of them. They are the tastiest of the rockfish, highly valued in Japan, and have rebounded since the days before the 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone off our shores. Anyone can do the math. Anyway, enjoy the rest of the read.


     "Many thanks for laying out the Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation situation.  I can't understand why such a juicy story keeps from breaking into State News.  The ADF+G has some house cleaning to do, as do the villages in that region. Here in Kodiak it's the deadly calm of a descending economy. The public appears to have given up and accepted "RATIONALIZATION" (rats), the law that says who owns the fish ( not us).  I say 'appears,' because if leopards can change their spots then it's very possible we're quiet because we're tickled to death with "rats". 

No, there's a general feeling that nothing economically fruitful is ever going to happen again in our neck of the woods, that we're being pinched off a little more every year, that we've been swept without knowing it into a situation resembling an oligarchy composed of a handful of corporations and individuals; complete with two governments, several radio stations and a Chamber of Commerce that all do their duty to that oligarchy.  Their duty is to pretend they don't see what's going on in our basic industry and I have to take my hat off to their performance.

 But now, from 3 fish plants that were shut out when the Rockfish spoils were originally split up, comes a lawsuit, striking the rats balloon in mid flight.  A week ago the cartel's plan for 'owning' the North Pacific was on track and doing fine, nearly complete.  Our fate was sealed, we wouldn't see any new money in town till there was oil rigs off shore and services like crewboat supply, and bars, were needed.

The Rockfish in  the Gulf are all owned by a few dozen lucky fishermen via the "catch share" system.  That takes care of half the business; "Processor Quotas" (PQ's) take care of the rest.  It mandates that every GOA Rockfish fisherman has to deliver his catch to the processor who holds the PQ's, whatever the price and delivery schedule. Plaintiffs will be in court in a month, but for now, the Feds say they told everybody twice back around 2004 that PQ's were illegal, but the cartels just kept pushing them through. PQs have been functioning in the Bering for years. 

 It's going to be hard for Kodiak people to hear the ins and outs of this.  The Kodiak Daily Mirror went on 100% censorship as of July 2008. The public radio station never met a privatizer they didn't like, and short of handing out tracts on the street, there's no way to clue folks in.  Still, the news will seep in eventually, but I hope we can straighten up and do whatever it takes to make sure we stay on the information highway.  I wouldn't be surprised to see all the organs of our two local governments leap to the defense of the poor cartels; it's happened before.

     Faint signs of a recovery may sprout on our waterfronts in 2012, if the privatizers can't scare the Federal courts into condoning an unconstitutional act. If the Feds hold tough it means long term growth, some anyway.  The big leap would come when and if we dislodge the draggers from their dirty work in GOA Rockfish. 

     The rats crowd are in turmoil; good time to hit them with whatever else is around.  The biggest thing by far would be enforcing another law that's presently being broken.  Revisit the dividing of the spoils in Bering Sea crab and GOA Rockfish.  Federal law says the crew and skippers get 40%; they got 3%.  Correct that fraud and make sure the fish corresponding to that 40% are earmarked for mixed gear fleets, non-trawl. No power could stop the economic growth that would then occur. We'll hope for the best up North and here as well."