I’d imagine that many of you are wondering where this is going. Here’s the breakdown.
We have $1 million in grant funding earmarked with the state through the Southeast Sustainable Salmon Fund. We have $2.88 million in grant funding(after the markdown from $3 million from NMFS) from the Federal Government side of the Sustainable Salmon Fund. We have the implementing language stating that we can pay the 3% for a loan of up to $25 million—although at this point we are rated by a NMFS economic study for only $18 million. When Congress passed the reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Act in mid-December we got everything we needed insofar as implementation language and the rest of the baggage that was hanging out these past couple of years.
So why don’t we just get it on and have a $21.88 million dollar fleet consolidation program? Because, besides the remaining $3 million that is supposed to come to the state through the Southeast Sustainable Salmon Fund later this spring or summer, there is also the seemingly small matter of the loan authorization for the loan. This is 1%, which can either be $250,000 to maximize the loan potential should the loan amount change. Or, conversely, we could get away with $180,000 should our loan potential remain at the rating of $18 million that NMFS has already determined. Language was inserted into our prior $500,000 Southeast Sustainable Salmon Fund grant that deleted our“until expended” language to cause the funding to revert back to the US Treasury by the end of 2006.
It is not likely that we may be able to be included in the February 15th continuing resolution for Congressional funding. So we wait patiently for the next funding cycle of Congress, in April or May hopefully. However, if we somehow miss this important deadline, it also may just be that we have to wait until next October. In any event we will not be able to complete the fleet consolidation until after the 2007 season but should have things completed by the 2008 season in the best case scenario.
Once we have this all-important $180-250K appropriation for the loan authorization, and the $3 million is allocated from the state of Alaska through the Southeast Sustainable Salmon Fund, then we will forward to NMFS the # of permits that the SRA board determines is the correct number to retire and the dollar amount per permit. After this step, NMFS does a bunch of paperwork and puts out a 60 or 90 day comment period and then goes to the fleet for a up or down vote on the plan. The new NMFS language in MSA stipulates that a majority of permits voting must approve the plan for it to be passed.
Your SRA (Southeast Revitalization Association) consists of Tom Manos, Dan Castle, David Street, Troy Denkinger, Dean Haltiner, Nich Babich and Jim Bacon. Each of these gentlemen have served as board members of either PSVOA or SEAS over the years and 2 of them have been President of SEAS. They represent a varied geographic diversity as well as the latent, non-active permit holders as 2 of them have not purse seined in Southeast in 5 years or longer.
We are working hard to complete this fleet consolidation program so that seiners can maintain some semblance of stability on the water in SEAK. Certainly the 2006 season was a dire reminder of the bloated permit numbers in SO1A. Our average gross stock was abyssmal and the number of returning pink salmon in 2006 was at a 20 year low.
Stay tuned to this website, http://www.seiners.net/, for further information.
There’s never been a more important time to join SEAS. Our numbers have fallen due to the overall lightening of the fleet participation in recent years along with the fact that our dues had to be raised substantially from $250 associate and $600 full member status to $400 for nonfishing members and $750 for all currently active fishermen. Nonetheless we still had 100 members in 2006 out of a total of approximately 220 active fishermen, which represents approximately the same percentage of SEAS members in the fleet that we have always had.
But we need more participation. The issues get tougher, the fights get nastier, and our future is constantly being threatened. Several years ago, in the early 1990’s, I recall a few members complaining that SEAS never did anything proactive. They were convinced that all SEAS did was maintain the status quo. I explained that this was a major accomplishment—to maintain the status quo. It takes a strong organization with massive participation to keep peace on the water with other gear groups, to maintain harmony with Canada, environmental groups, miners,n loggers, sportsmen, enhancement groups, subsistence users and other multiple users of the Tongass. SEAS has done an amazing job over the years at maintaining a major presence on the water and in the halls of decision makers.
Yet this was not enough for many members of our fleet who have recently been subjected to the major global competition with farmed salmon and other protein sources that come into the United States and also compete with our salmon in the global marketplace. So we have worked hard with the marketing arm of UFA to create TAA opportunites for our membership, the $36 million Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board ( Bruce Schactler’s idea), and to revamp ASMI to the $16 million annual powerhouse it is today. Likewise on the production side of things we have worked diligently to provide a fleet consolidation program that relimits limited entry to a number that was more appropriate for the 21st century. No tricks or gimmicks or processor shares, just a simple relimiting of limited entry.
You can read all about it on our website and in this newsletter, but SEAS has been the only Alaskan-based salmon seine organization that has persevered in the past several decades to accomplish major improvements in any seine fishery in the state of Alaska. Kodiak Seiners Association folded its tent 4 years ago. The Peninsula Marketing Association (False Pass seiners) folded about a decade ago. The Prince William Sound seiners are a division, along with the gillnetters, of Cordova District Fishermen United.
And although the CDFU folks are a great organization, it is a difficult integration to have a group of combined gear types, especially if there are conflicts and allocations to live up to.
So to those of you who seem to have a problem coughing up the $750 for whatever reason, you have to ask yourselves: Would you like to either be integrated into PSVOA?—not really a bad idea perhaps—or would you like to be integrated into United Southeast Gillnetters Association?—losing a bit more independence and leverage than the former idea perhaps? What is your plan?
I have been around only for the past 21 years as a SEAS member, 4 as a board member, 4 as Executive Director and the other 13 just as a regular member. I have heard all the excuses for not joining or for skipping a year of dues. All of them. And most of them more than once. I guess there is only one result of skipping or refusing to pay dues. You lose your voice and we lose ground. Without cost recovery, which many of you objected to as you thought we’d eventually lose our independence to the hatchery system, we have a pathetic budget. We’re just getting by right now and losing financial ground every year. The 100 guys have held you all up thus far but how long this can continue is a question mark. Sure we can slide into a few more years, but why are those who aren’t members staying out? Certainly there are issues, and seemingly valid ones, for skipping dues.
One of our longtime members was upset about losing access to fishing Nakat Inlet. So what’s the solution. Quitting? Yeah, that may make some board members feel hurt, but then he realized that by quitting SEAS he will likely be throwing away another seine area in the future. By not supporting SEAS you are inevitably supporting everyone else who we dealing with to hold our own in access to the Southeast salmon resource.
We realize that you may not like each and every issue we tackle and the way we do business. But unless you are willing to strap on your boots and sportcoat and tie and head to Juneau and spend your own $750, it seems to make much more sense to join SEAS.
Again, thanks to those of you who stick with us through thick and thin.
Many thanks for being consistent and being a part of the team.
keep the faith