Fisheries bill wasn't Sen. Ben Stevens' idea

Letter to the editor

Posted: Sunday, May 01, 2005

We would like to respond to the Empire's April 27, 2005 My Turn by Stephen R. Taufen.

Mr. Taufen arrived in Alaska and testified on Saturday, April 23, against the passage of SB 113, sponsored by Sen. Ben Stevens.

Mr. Taufen's view is that SB 113 "would shift the (state waters Gulf of Alaska) catch toward the large boat trawl fleet and its corporate backers, away from the local fixed gear (pot and jig) fleet who exercise greater care and whom (sic) produce high-quality products." Mr. Taufen's statement also included an unwarranted attack on Sen. Stevens.

Mr. Taufen ignores the fact the bill has no effect on allocation of catch between gear groups. In fact, the bill would provide the state with a management tool necessary to protect the place of all Alaskan fishermen in Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries managed by the state. If this bill is passed, for the first time, the state would be authorized to assign individual fishermen a share of the overall quota based on their past fishing history. This tool would serve conservation, fishermen's economic well being, and product quality.

Moreover, this bill was not Sen. Stevens' idea. Following a three-year public process, the Board of Fisheries asked Sen. Stevens to sponsor such a bill. Because the Entry Commission would bear some responsibility under the bill, we were asked to join in this request. In turn, Sen. Stevens asked the board and the commission to work out the details and come back to him, when we had the support of the Murkowski administration. We performed accordingly, and, in response to our request, Sen. Stevens agreed to sponsor the bill.

In view of the fact, Sen. Stevens has shown nothing but integrity and a commitment to help the state manage its fisheries and protect Alaska fishermen. Mr. Taufen's accusations clearly subject Sen. Stevens to the maxim "no good deed shall go unpunished."

We are sorry his sponsorship of the bill has drawn unwarranted criticism.

Frank Homan

Bruce Twomley

Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission

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