Sunday, May 13, 2012

He Who Has the Gold rules Western Alaska

Thomas Paine once said, " To argue with someone who is without reason, is like administering medicine to the dead." Tim Smith, the President of the only State of Alaska sanctioned regional aquaculture association in the Nome area, has been debunking the claims of others to his position and his organization. It's largely what Thomas Paine warned about. But it got my attention, even if the media is ignoring this life and death struggle for a food supply in Western Alaska, not to mention a commercial salmon fishery like the rest of the State started for themselves long ago. Why is that?

 Tim's purpose in writing all those letters explaining the truth of the matter is hitting some kind of wall. Was Governor Parnell's trip to Nome to add some bricks to that wall? Why did a Trooper lady take a tape recorder over to the Teller Mayor's house to have coffee right after that trip. After he had simply been talking to the Fish and Game Commissioner about jump-starting the hatchery program in the Nome area. And all the clicking on Tim's phone is apparently trying to drown out his conversations.

All because Tim wants to raise some salmon in a hatchery to HELP, also as President of the Nome Fishermen's Association. The fifty-five odd fishermen's organizations in Alaska should be ashamed of failing to rally to the side of one of their sister organizations.

Tim's opposition knows Thomas Paine was referring to them. And the State of Alaska knows who they are too. It's probably unreasonable to think that the head of a several hundred million dollar Nome area organization that has been opposing Tim will step down just because he was reported to be using Public Safety Officer standing to intimidate folks.

But it is reasonable to believe that top public officials in Juneau will stand on the right side of this struggle. I saw one of those Facebook 'shared' political cartoons about one Party devolving into simply, 'making sh.. up." Again, people all the way down the ladder take their cues from our top people. If you can call some political candidates our top people. Well, some would call them that anyway. The good thing about content storage places like blogs is that they can record for posterity how things devolved and who did nothing to help. Such as the United Fishermen of Alaska, with their '35 member organizations.' So much for being 'united' and also for being on the right side of history.

The big question is whether the State of Alaska officials will be on the right side of history, or will they also be the dead ones that Thomas Paine referred to in his famous quote. If they don't quickly resolve this, the next election cycle will surely see more information on this attempt to deprive Western Alaskans of revived salmon runs. And by the way, salmon runs that the State of Alaska stood by and did nothing to protect from the Bering Sea trawlers. Of course the fisheries management body, of trawl lobbyists, still debates their role in their demise. Even though many experienced analysts say the king salmon by-catch and 'dumping' was over 400,000 king salmon a year at the peak of the destruction. It's less now they say.  Of course it is, because they pret'n near wiped 'em all out.

I've heard it said that in the summer, in Western Alaska villages, parents used to keep a big pot of cooked salmon chunks for the kids to snack on. Recent reports of dental decay being twice the national average out there would suggest the pot of salmon has been replaced by junk food, highly preserved by chemicals. I don't know why some of it is even classed as 'food'.
All the fast food is not a entirely different story.

Governor Parnell just appointed a dentist to a new commission to try address this problem in the bush. A big problem is that this dentist made a number of racial slurs about the Alaska Natives and even went so far as to suggest they should die out if they can't get their act together. Is there something going on here that all Alaskans and even the nation might want to be aware of?

When the rich guys wipe out the historic food supply of king and chum salmon and 'help' them by replacing it with junk food, what do you think is going to happen? Even the act of harvesting the salmon was glue to hold those cultures together, giving meaning to life in Western Alaska. It's all related, but sure easy to say it's not. The history books are waiting to write what the State of Alaska is going to do about finally restoring the salmon runs in Western Alaska.

At this point, talking to Governor Parnell, the oil lobbyist,.is like talking to the dead. I suppose listing the salmon runs up there as 'Endangered' or 'Threatened,' under the Endangered Species Act might get someone's attention. But why not just take the logical route to protecting the social, economic and ecological values. The Secretary of the Department of the Interior directed the Bureau of Land Management to take such a approach to forest management in Western Oregon. It is obvious that the science of resource management has fallen on deaf ears long enough.

The glimmer of hope is not with the Administration in Juneau, but with the pending merging of the National Marine Fisheries Service with the Department of Interior. What does NOAA care about social justice anyway? NMFS has steadfastly refused to do the economic impact studies, as required by law, of their privatization programs for the fisheries off Alaska's coasts. To my former banker boss it would all be very simple, his philosophy was that "He who has the gold, makes the rules." Do we need to rewrite the Boy Scout Motto?