Fishing families know who can help them in election

Posted: Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Upon returning to Cordova following a month's absence for my commercial fishing season in Bristol Bay, I was interested to learn that we have yet another "advocate" for our fishing interests here from outside of our industry and community: Lauren Padawer with Eyak Preservation Council. I'm appreciative of Ms. Padawer's comments about both CDFU and UFA's endorsement of Sen. Frank Murkowksi for governor of Alaska. She aptly demonstrated one of the very real considerations by both CDFU and UFA in our gubernatorial endorsement process: the role of the environmental industry in fishing and land/water management issues.

While some groups understand that responsible stewardship and conservation extends to families and communities, as well as to critters, it is often the case that we are simply used as pawns to further the agendas of groups that use our fisheries and/or their habitats for their own purposes (fund-raising, media exposure, etc.). We find that they have little sincere interest in listening to our legitimate concerns for our livelihoods and for our communities. We are tired of being just a tool in their high-stakes, big-bucks industry; they utilize society's collective guilt to provide themselves with jobs, often at our expense. Sen. Frank Murkowski has a very real understanding of the extent to which Alaska's fisheries and fishing communities have been devastated by Outside environmental agendas. Further, he will not stand for it!

CDFU and UFA support for governor the candidate that will help empower a healthy, sustainable fishing industry. Folks in the fishing industry know that their future depends upon healthy fisheries habitats. We don't need registered members of the Green Party from Anchorage or Outside trying to "save us from ourselves" or judge the candidates that we believe will best promote the interests of the businesses that our families depend upon. Perhaps Ms. Padawer should take her own advice: "The change needs to come from downstream where people feel the impacts and where they hold the best knowledge for improving their region and their fisheries." The fishing families of Alaska don't need people from outside of our industry and communities who haven't even made the effort to come in and discuss the issues with us advocating on our behalf!

Sue Aspelund

Executive Director, Cordova District Fishermen United

Vice President, United Fishermen of Alaska

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