My turn: What has happened to free enterprise?

The industry of fishing for Alaskans is being ruined

Posted: Friday, July 28, 2006

I read with interest the various opinions, comments and "the well laid plans" regarding rationalization of Alaska crab and, now, Gulf of Alaska groundfish.

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It appears the goal is to "preserve the fish," and this is good. But to issue fishing rights to certain people per a criteria set out by "the government (i.e. politicians, various boards, commissions, National Marine Fisheries Service and the good ol' boys club)" with emphasis on issuing ownership to those who meets their eligibility criteria, to include processors, corporations and possible foreign ownership, is ludicrous. What has happened to free enterprise in Alaska? The honest industry of fishing for Alaskans is being destroyed.

To eliminate "derby-style fishing" with the emphasis on safety is a joke. My son fished last season in the Bering Sea. The cannery told them when to fish and deliver, or face fines by the cannery. The whole world saw the conditions they fished in a heard various comments about rationalization for safety on the "Deadliest Catch." So whose hands are in whose pockets?

I see little emphasis put on "preserving the fishermen" who are the down-to-earth, future of the industry. Those who want to work day by day for their livelihood, to raise their families and support the villages, communities and the businesses that support the industry, promoting free enterprise as it should be. It's difficult to encourage them to endure and do the work they like when we see the skullduggery going on by elected officials and other entities that are supposed to be working - for all - the fishermen.

Fish management is important, but preserving fishermen should be at the top of the page. When the fish are all owned by outside corporations, processors, foreigners, what will happen to the villages and communities that help support Alaska's economy honestly? What will happen to the fishing industry that everyone in Alaska can be proud of ? What will happen when those Outside corporations, processors, foreigners and whoever call the shots as to what happens in Alaska's fishing industry? The fishermen in Alaska should be making those decisions, but will there be any?

We all have seen what happened in the past "fixes." Many fishermen lost their livelihoods while it is obvious to see the results of the greed and power associated with those "fixes." The politicians, government and National Marine Fisheries Service are selling Alaska right out the door.

"The good ol' boys club" should step back, respect the men and women for whom they should be the example and keep their credibility intact. Listen to their ideas and promote a fair and honest program that will be a credit to you and them - one that will encourage an industry that everyone can be proud of (not like the current rockfish pilot program that will allow the draggers to catch more, plus the halibut and cod by-catch, which decreases quota for the longliners too).

Promote an industry that you would be proud to hand down to your children and grandchildren - one that they would be proud to have.

Then I read about the Pebble Mine proposed for the Bristol Bay region. This could destroy the world's largest wild salmon fishery. I don't see gold or copper or farmed salmon on the American Heart Association's diet.

• Jan Davis is a resident of East Wenatchee, Wash.

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