Getting along

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, February 22, 2007

This is in response to Bill Connor's letter referring to 50-pound wet lock boxes being flown home with charter and lodge visitors to Alaska.

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Connor is correct on two points. I operate a small, four-guest lodge near Juneau and we try to send folks home with fish.

His second correct point is that the guided sport industry needs to be held accountable. I guess he means having the industry incorporated into the North Pacific Fishery Management Council's allocation process. I agree. Most of us feel some sort of limited-entry system and compensated reallocation process is the right thing to do. Unfortunately these steps have been derailed in the past. We are trying to further that process right now, and many of us are hopeful that a moratorium will go through this year. Connor should send a letter to the council advocating that charter catch be put on the same level as commercial catch - I am.

I take exception to Connor's charge that people pay for trips with fish. I charge $500 per person, per day, to stay and fish at my lodge. I don't think anyone is paying for that plus airfare, hotels, processing and extra shipping charges on two halibut a day. People who want to fish that bad want to eat their fish and share at their table with family and friends.

Next, when Connor talks of wet lock boxes at the airport, please mention the container loads of commercial caught halibut that are exported from Alaska each year, too. The lion share of commercial and guided sport fish are shipped out of state. And, for the record, probably eight pounds of commercial halibut are exported for every one pound of sport.

Exporting fish is what commercial fishermen do. Why is it somehow "dirty" for people to spend money to come up here and catch their own fish and take them home? These people are paying way more per pound than if they just went to the market and bought commercial fish exported from Alaska. It is called value-added product. In almost any resource-based industry, value added-product is the best use of the resource.

So Connor, let's work together to settle differences at the management council, and let's shake hands on the dock. There is room for both of us. We are in the same game.

Rick Bierman

Shelter Island

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