My Turn: Communities support fishing - and vice versa

Alaska salmon fishermen just enjoyed a record season. Over 266 million salmon were harvested this summer and, although the value is still being calculated, it is likely to become one of the most valuable catches in history. The incredible abundance of salmon in 2013 is unique, but the formula for success is repeatable: healthy habitat, conservative management, a little enhancement and some of Mother Nature’s magic. Hard working fishermen, tendermen and processors prepare and make many sacrifices to have an opportunity for a once in a lifetime harvest. Fishermen compete with each other to do well for themselves and for their families, but the overall benefit to the State of Alaska of our healthy salmon resource is huge. Tens of millions of dollars flow into our coastal communities each and every year.

Although fishermen’s earnings are uneven, I always try to think of ways to give something back to my community. I encourage my fellow fishermen to do the same. The needs are great in our coastal communities. Giving your time, money or talent to the less fortunate, volunteering at a non-profit organization or church, or coaching or mentoring kids are ways that you can make your community thrive. On good years like this, consider donating a sum that is significant for you to your favorite local cause, or establishing or adding to a fund at your local community foundation.

Vibrant community foundations exist in many coastal communities. Philanthropy is an interesting thing. We all work hard to earn and save for our families. But giving can become so much more rewarding than acquiring. We all need to work hard on our fishing gear and boats in the off season, but again, coaching or volunteering or donating some of that hard earned money gives us meaning and can make a big difference in our community. It is puzzling, but the more we give the more seems to come back our way.

I also try to think of those who came before me that have helped make my profession successful. Good management and abundant resources don’t just happen. The work of many people over many years made that possible. And there are many challenges to come. I think it is important to support fishing organizations and marine conservation groups that promote good management and healthy habitats. There are long established fishing organizations in coastal communities across the state. Also, devote some time to city and borough issues and perhaps make a trip to Juneau if that is what it takes to make your community thrive.

Salmon fishermen understand the principal of ensuring escapement. Fisherman collectively harvest only to the level where enough fish are left to spawn to sustain future runs. That is not a sacrifice. It is a necessity. If we do it right, we reap the benefits forever. Similarly if we take care of our communities in times of abundance we will ensure better times ahead. Think about what we can accomplish if we all give something back.

Buck Laukitis is a Trustee of the Homer Foundation, President of the North Pacific Fisheries Association in Homer and a coach.

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Mon, 02/27/2017 - 20:01

My Turn: Mental health patients have rights

In the state’s ongoing effort to manage the rising costs of treating the disabled, it is the disabled who pay the price. In too many cases, there is no state standard of care for the disabled, even in regulations; when the state wants to save money, the first and easiest place is to encourage private facilities to reduce the quality of care and treatment for disabled psychiatric patients.

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Mon, 02/27/2017 - 20:01

My Turn: Trump’s looming assault on the separation of church and state

The president’s recent spate of executive orders; the continuing debate surrounding his immigration ban; the fallout resulting from his contentious interactions with two of our most trusted allies (Australia and Mexico); and his shocking defense of Vladimir Putin, a criminal, dictator and human rights violator, succeeded in deflecting attention from his fiery pronouncement to “destroy” the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits churches from engaging in political activity at the risk of losing their tax-exempt status. What the distractions failed accomplish, however, was diminishing the importance of safeguarding the principle of the separation of church and state.

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Mon, 02/27/2017 - 20:01

Letter: Go see ‘West Side Story’

I am writing to alert the Juneau community about West Side Story, one of the best theater productions that I have seen in Juneau in over 31 years of living here.

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Mon, 02/27/2017 - 20:01

My Turn: Does Alaska have a spending problem? Benchmarking is the answer.

The governor, some in the Legislature and even some prominent Alaskans don’t believe Alaska has a spending problem. They say that Alaska has a revenue problem and argue that Alaska needs to implement more revenue options, i.e. taking your money to fuel big government. Their tired refrain is simply to argue, “you can’t cut your way to prosperity.” On the contrary, we all know that you can’t spend your way to prosperity!

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