As a local fisherman returning from the crab gourds, I have been catching up on the latest politics of United Fishermen of Alaska (UFA) and our newly elected state officials. I have read with interest articles, letters and editorials about UFA's positions on matters ranging from marketing to conservation issues and I see the system is working, issues are sorting themselves out. As a long-time member, it is refreshing to see UFA in the news as an action-oriented organization with positions of meaning and consequence for change.
The status quo is killing Alaska's salmon industry and UFA under the leadership of President Bobby Thorstenson is doing something about it. I have watched over the last 20 years as Alaska's last viable resource-based industry besides oil has slipped in global market standing, just as furs, minerals and timber did. I am glad to be associated with this organization that has the process and depth to take on difficult issues, make decisions and advance ideas into politics for change.
In the big picture, the status quo is killing Alaska's entire economy. Cheap third world labor is in the forefront of global cost structures that are rendering Alaska's resource-based industries non competitive in today's markets, and UFA is committed to doing something about it. As responsible businessmen, fishermen through UFA are steering a bold new course into the future where all ships will rise with the tide. Getting our costs down, our quality up and marketing smart is the new order of the day and this is what UFA board members will be meeting about in Juneau.
I am looking forward to UFA forging partnerships with other Alaska business groups and industries to build new infrastructures and improve ways of permitting and management that say yes to prosperity and move us forward into the new millennium. Together, Alaskans can once again become competitive providing viable jobs that pay a living wage and support a healthy tax base.
Right on to the new UFA.