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Something is fishy about these Pebble opponents

Posted: December 29, 2011 - 1:06am

The Pacific Seafood Processors Association (PSPA) recently weighed-in on the Pebble Project; the hypocrisy of this action motivates me to put pen to paper.

Of the 10 member companies belonging to the PSPA seven are owned by Japanese corporations, one by the third largest private company in Canada, and two are American companies. While this multi-national corporate ownership does not bother me, I take issue with their position against this potential mine.

The following is a closer look at the corporations taking a stand against the opportunity for the Pebble Project to go through the state permitting process:

Maruha Nichiro owns four of the 10 member companies (Alyeska Seafoods, Golden Alaska, Peter Pan Seafoods, Westward Seafoods). Their 121 subsidiaries invest in fish farming, aquaculture, livestock, pet food, the medical/health industries as well as wild fish processing in Japan, China, Thailand and the U.S.

The Nippon Suisan Corporation, another Japanese owned company, holds two PSPA seats (Unisea and Phoenix Processor). They farm salmon and process seafood at seven South American locations. Their fish farming, catching, processing, and pharmaceutical/health product subsidiaries operate in Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, China, Africa, the European Union and the U.S.

So far, six of the 10 members of this multinational corporate group partake in fish farming, the antithesis of the natural, wild, self-proclaimed “last great wild salmon fishery on Earth” located in Bristol Bay, the very REASON we pay to label our salmon “Wild Alaska Salmon”.

The Marubeni Corporation, holding the seventh seat, is active in carbon trading, agriculture, fertilizers, apparel, rubber production, pulp production, chemicals, oil and gas trading, liquified natural gas wells and transportation, shale plays, retail, shipping, textiles, insurance, finance, real estate and more in the Americas, Russia, Africa, Middle East, Asia and more.

Marubeni is also active in copper, coal, iron and steel extraction and smelting. Heavy investment in copper and coal mining in Chile and Australia highlight investment targets. As their metal and mineral 2011 initiative website states, “Our intent here is to increase opportunities for the division to acquire mining interests.” There is nothing wrong with that goal, as far as I am concerned.

Troubling is that Marubeni has a stake in copper mining on the Fraser River in British Columbia; the “last great salmon and sturgeon fishing watershed left on the planet.” Marubeni has financial interests in copper mining in a fishery that figures into the Pacific Salmon Treaty negotiations. The Pacific Salmon Treaty dictates how many fish my constituents are allowed to catch each season.

The Jim Pattison Group, the third largest privately held corporation in Canada, also holds a PSPA seat. I could not actually find Alaska General Seafoods on their website. Their holdings include auto dealers, grocery stores, magazine distribution networks and financial services. The corporation owns 27 radio stations, three TV stations, the rights to the Guinness Book of World Records and Ripley’s Believe it or Not.

Ripley’s could feature the Jim Pattison group when it comes to resource development assets. Aside from their interests in the plastics and aluminum industries, they seem most proud of their mining and forestry subsidiaries.

As coal exporters they moved a company record volume in 2010. Their handling and transfer facilities for the mining industry include the largest dry-bulk loading facility on the west coast of either North, Central or South America. Recent investments in these mining specific export terminals show their dedication to the mining industry.

Is it possible that the first two corporations, comprising 60 percent of PSPA membership, tout wild Alaska salmon with one hand and farm salmon in Chile with the other? Could the other two aforementioned multi-national corporations be subtly killing an Alaska mining project to protect their own mining interests?

It could be happening or, as Ripley would say, “Believe It or Not!”

• Johansen is a Republican who lives in Ketchikan and represents several southern Southeast communities. He serves on the House State Affairs Committee.

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