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I appreciate the Feb. 5 Empire editorial by Don Smith, supporting Alaska's commercial fishing industry. And thank you to Sen. Ted Stevens and those state legislators who are raising the awareness of the need to market wild Alaska seafood. There is a real need to get people to understand that the potential collapse of the salmon industry can be turned around with immediate and resourceful action.
Sen. Stevens has foresight when he states, "And we will try to develop a plan to allow our wild salmon to be labeled organic to give it a share of the growing, lucrative, health food market." I believe that commercial fishermen have a willingness to change focus, to team together efforts to grow a healthy and sustainable seafood market.
The concern for the survival of coastal fishing communities is very real. Within these communities is the motivation and smarts to turn the tide and find solutions that will bring recommended and actionable projects.
The blatant disregard by key leaders of the Legislature has the appearance of discrediting the historic importance of the Alaska fishing industry. Lack of marketing money is a roadblock to reaching consumers of wild Alaska seafood and is a barrier to building economic opportunities in Alaska.
My family is part of a network of hard-working folks that spend thousands of dollars in the Alaska economy every year. We hire and buy locally, support local airlines, and we live and raise families in Alaska. We are the volunteers in classrooms, fire departments, civic committees. We give back to Alaska!
The Legislature should support and commit to maximizing the benefits of a valuable renewable resource, wild Alaska seafood.