Sunday, June 27, 2010

Alaska Journal of Commerce Reports Rockfish Decision

Rockfish program signals shift in state fisheries policy

By Andrew Jensen
Alaska Journal of Commerce

"The Alaska delegation to the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council signaled a shift in policy at the June meeting in Sitka. The group severed processor ties to harvesters and took steps to sharply curtail transfer and leasing of catch allocations for the Gulf of Alaska rockfish fishery.
"The six voting members from Alaska, which include Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Denby Lloyd, represent a controlling bloc of the 11-member federal council that governs the Gulf of Alaska fishing waters.
"The Alaska delegation successfully pushed for a dramatic overhaul of the five-year rockfish pilot program scheduled to sunset after the 2011 season.
"Council member Duncan Fields of Kodiak said the "important, innovative" structural changes to the rockfish program were intended to not only shape state policy, but national policy as well by emphasizing cooperative fishing over individual fishing quotas. "

Read the complete article:

Although we've blasted the NPFMC decision regarding the halibut PSC swaps and gaming that goes on in the Rockfish Program and the observer program, we have to admit that there seems to be a change of tide coming regarding the heretofore carte blanche that the trawler industry has had with regard to decisions by the NPFMC. With the recent reappointment of Duncan Fields of Kodiak and Sam Cotten of Eagle River, it appears that their actions have the stamp of approval by the Obama Administration and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco. This is good news for Alaska. For too long, the Council has acted as part of the colonial government of Alaska, setting policy and making money primarily for outside interests, both foreign and domestic, whose concern was profits at the expense of the resident Alaska fishermen and resident Alaska fish resources. I know, I know, some trawlermen are residents, some few. The decisions on rockfish and (we shall see) the preliminary moves to protect tanner crab and Chinook salmon in the Gulf of Alaska to be further addressed this fall, make it seem like for the first time in NPFMC history that protection for trawler abused stocks has taken on some urgency. Is it too late?

Those of us concerned about the GOA and the future of our communities see these moves as hopeful of a new courage on the part of Alaska NPFMC members to take up the struggle to ensure a future to our fisheries. We owe them a hearty thanks, for this latest move. We need to let the Governor know his ADFG Commissioner is doing a good job and we need to retain him. We need to let gubernatorial candidates know the management of Alaska fisheries needs to get off the colonial model. We have a helluva a long way to go. Too many of the continuing trawler fisheries are pursued for the profits of their allowable bycatch (cod, sablefish) which the NPFMC has erroneously granted them as a boon for pursuing what can only be called trash fish. The allowable take of PSC halibut, crab, and salmon should be a crime, but the the NPFMC has kept a blind eye to that economy of waste. So there is plenty to do. That we allow our wonderful natural resources to be thrown away at minimal profits to outside interests and foreign owned processors for some balance of trade scheme is an outrage. Processor linkages give away our fisheries resources without extracting their real value and block Alaskans from ever owning their own waterfront.

Alaska should act as a state and not as a colony. She needs to look after her people and her long term sustainable economic health. Her small coastal communities are not poor step-pups to the big dog Anchorage, but the tributaries of her river of economic health. Exxon, BP, Shell, and their ilk are not friends of Alaska, anymore than they have been to Louisiana, though when they are rubbing your back and shoving money down your pants, it seems like it. Same goes with Pebble Mine, the trawl fleet, and the foreign owned (outsider owned) processors. When their bellies are full (and their appetites are enormous), all their sweet promises are forgotten. Statehood wasn't the end of the fight, it was only the beginning. Until Alaska acts like a state and manages her resources like a state, we will still be a territorial colony.

Keep yer flippers wet.

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