Fairness for fishermen

Letter to the Editor

Posted: Monday, October 28, 2002

Our fishing industry is too important to give it less than our best. I would appreciate your assistance in making sure residents of Alaska's coastal communities are not misled about my position.

Issuing processor shares is a radical step that has not been adequately analyzed. The key question is whether a proposed plan will preserve the welfare and diversity of our fishing communities. That has been my position all along.

My opponent has undergone an election-eve conversion, recently stating that she opposes processor shares in the Bering Sea crab fishery, and will force the North Pacific Council to reconsider. Don't let yourself buy more than is really being sold.

The council process requires a thorough impact analysis. I will ensure it is fair and complete for coastal communities and fishermen. And at that point, reconsideration is already part of the council process. Furthermore, as Sen. Ted Stevens recently reminded fishermen in Kodiak, congressional action is also needed, and no decisions have been made.

As governor, I will nominate several new council members, and I will make it clear they must do the right thing, not the politically correct thing.

No final action will occur until we know the full story. And the Bering Sea plan will not control what happens in the Gulf of Alaska. I believe that such a radical change, wherever it is proposed, must have the full support of the fishing community, must recognize regional and local differences, and must allow new ventures to flourish.

I also want to make my position on salmon farming very clear: I am absolutely opposed to salmon farming in Alaska. The glut of farmed salmon is the most important factor in the current low price of salmon. Producing more farmed salmon won't help. Instead, we need to emphasize our high-quality wild fish. Market research and the practical experience of our fishermen and independent entrepreneurs support that view.

Returning our salmon industry to profitability will take a coordinated effort by fishermen, processors and government. As part of that effort, we must consider management reforms to increase the ability of fishermen and fishing communities to respond to the changing market. I will make sure that when those issues are discussed, Alaska's fishermen and fishing communities are front and center. We must ensure that any changes preserve economic and social opportunities for our communities. Alaska's fishery management should be based on what's good for Alaskans, not what's good for outside interests.

Frank H. Murkowski

Candidate for governor

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