In a letter published in the Empire on Oct. 23, Richard Schmitz personally attacks me and my organization, Oceana. Oceana's goal (and a personal goal) is to restore and protect our ocean resources, including maintaining viable commercial, recreational and subsistence fisheries. Oceana has no intention of shutting down Alaska salmon fisheries. Unfortunately Mr. Schmitz has swallowed Sen. Murkowski's misrepresentation of the facts. This attack is a reflection of Sen. Murkowski's approach to difficult Alaska issues, i.e. rant about it, accomplish nothing, blame others.
Oceana is currently involved in a lawsuit to compel the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to complete a congressionally mandated process and report on marine mammals. It is designed to have an observer program determine if there are problems. If there are, it requires that Alaska salmon fishermen, scientists and others be brought together to develop strategies to avoid injury and mortality to marine mammals.
Oceana has stipulated in writing that there will be no attempt to shut down Alaska salmon fisheries. Oceana supports the Alaska salmon fishing industry. Oceana and Alaska salmon fishermen have common goals ranging from maintaining a vibrant market for wild ocean salmon to restoration and protection of healthy marine habitat. Oceana is working hard to stop pollution of our oceans and the destruction of marine habitat and the ecosystems. We believe that most Alaska commercial, recreational and subsistence fishermen share those objectives.
We need NMFS to do its job and Congress, including Sen. Murkowski, to join Sen. Stevens in efforts to fund sound science, good management and an honest public process.
Director, North Pacific Region