Tuesday, May 23, 2006

May Brailer Scoop Part Two ( Final Part)

SEAS thanks the following BUSINESS MEMBERS for their tremendous support
(And since we don't aggressively pursue some businesses, such as our tender members, maybe if you are a SEAS member you can suggest to your favorite tender that he or she join up. Or your favorite paint store or shipyard etc...)

In any event,Thanks business members..... Thanks for all you do for SEAS and for our fishing communities.

1.Richard L. Prout, Attorney at Law
3.Milner, Howard, Mortenson and Palmer
4.Harbor Bar…
6. Covich Williams
7. Redden Net
8. Murray Pacific
9.ECPhillip and Sons
10.Trident Seafoods
11.Port Townsend Shipwrights Coop
13.Icicle Seafoods.
14.Tender Seldovia
15.Service Auto Parts
16. Nordic Air
17. Hoonah Cold Storage
18. OBSI
19.Anderes Oil
20. Madison Lumber and Hardware
21. Norquest Seafoods.
22. Menendez Law Firm
23. Southeast Diesel & Electric
24. Sitka Sound Seafoods
25. Mecham and Richardson
26. Delta Western
27. LFS
28. AGS
29. Orca Bay Foods
30. Radtke Marine
31. Schmolck Mechanical Contractors
32. Petersburg Fishermen’s Services
33. Petro Marine Services

34. Chicken of the Sea
35. Clearwater Bay Corp—dba Newtown Liquor
36. First Bank
37. Great Western Pump Company
38. Southeast Stevedoring-

39. A&P Markets
40. Fairn and Swanson/Cloud Trading
41. The Trading Union Inc.
42. Piston and Rudder Service
43. Thompson House
44. The Boat Company

45. Ballard Electric
46. Wrangell Seafoods.


Fleet Consolidation Program to be ready for 2007 season

This is it. We’ve traveled way beyond the patience of the SEAS board, the SRA board, the PSVOA board and even Mr. Z at times. So here is what has happened and what hasn’t with the SE fleet consolidation program.

What is done by now, May 22 , 2006

1. $4 million in grants secured. $3 million federal and $1 million state

2. Agreement with NMFS as to how the loan should be structured and what amount

3. Agreement with state of Alaska officials at ADFG and CFEC as to how the fleet consolidation program will be run

.3. Agreement with Senator Stevens’ staff that this is a top priority for Alaska fisheries.

4. Rural Alaska program. Not enough funding for this in Congress and so it has accordingly been jettisoned.

5. Optimum number temporary fix(30 years) through HB484. (See the article elsewhere in the “Brailer Scoop”.)

6. SRA has set limit of 3% on the fleet assessment. No one will pay more than 3%. (Recall that SEAS was instrumental last year in relinquishing our obligation to pay the 1% ASMI tax.)

Still to come this summer and fall of 2006.

1. The $18 million loan just got a new vehicle. We’re hopeful that this is the Congress that will spell it out right in legislation so that we don’t get the program pulled on us again like the last 2 times….

2. $2-3 million in further grants through the SSSF.

OK, we know. The SEAS-PSVOA fleet consolidation program has taken far longer than we anticipated. Perhaps the flames of our initial enthusiasm were kindled by the $35 million grant program for Puget Sound. One of the key differences of course, is that in Alaska we are asking for the money without giving up 33% of our fishery. Also a key difference is that our champ, Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens, has less money to work with in Washington, DC, and that folks have been beating up on him too much lately.
Our first failure in DC ended up in simply a $53 million program that had no horse or wings to fly. Our second failure was a result of another Senator invoking a ruling that no conference committee legislation survive the Coast Guard bill this spring.
So we’re at the point where we have NMFS concurrence, the economics is right with massive processor consolidation occurring, and all the ducks lined up this spring and we got our horse shot out under us on a procedural move designed to thwart our champion, Chairman Stevens. In June, both SEAS E.D. and Mr. Zuanich will be heading to DC, accompanied by ADFG and CFEC officials to make sure we get this right in 2006 and that the relevant agencies in Alaska can be on the hunt so that we can kick this through the uprights once and for all in 2006 so that the program can complete it’s work and we can have a vote and a program by the summer of 2007.

That’s all for now. Sorry for the delay folks. Trying the best we know how.


SEAS passes HB484, the SRA reimbursement bill

On the last day of the session, SEAS got its buyback bill through.
HB484, titled “Fishery Association Reimbursement”, allows the legislature to send our money back to us if there is a optimum number court case that forces CFEC(Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission to issue more permits. Particularly permits that we already bought and paid for. Senate Finance insisted on a time limit so we will be under a 30-year time frame on the risk protection that HB484 insures.

One of the biggest obstacles to state waters buybacks in Alaska has been the potential that this bill avoids. Fishermen have always been reluctant to put up the hard earned cash or to borrow on long term loans without the assurance that the state of Alaska won’t reissue those “bought and paid for” permits. Now, for the first time ever, fleet consolidation can move ahead without the risk of losing our investment through this optimum number court proceeding.

SEAS and the SRA had been willing to handle this risk at the outset of our preparations for the fleet consolidation. The conventional wisdom was that if the SE seine fishery gets so economically productive, what with the increased price of fuel, etc., that if we really make such a bundle of money to make permit issuance a legal, constitutional issue, that we were willing to accept the risk. Now we don’t even have to accept that risk. HB484 takes this major element of risk out of the fleet consolidation program.

Along with thanks to Representative Peggy Wilson, SEAS would like to thank her staff who worked hard on this bill: Jean Ellis and Linda Miller. Along with the office staff of course, which includes Becky Rooney. Co-sponsors included Representative Bill Stoltze of Chugiak and Representative Beth Kerttula of Juneau.

And I’ll let the thanks roll in on this article on behalf of those who worked hard on the other bill in this newsletter, HB218, The Cost Recovery Bill. Rep. Wilson and Ketchikan Representative Jim Elkins were co-sponsors of this bill. And of course, the prime sponsor, Representative Bill Thomas of Haines, who championed this thing from the very start when most legislators were too shy to charge in on what initially appeared to be a very controversial fish bill. Many thanks to Rep. Thomas. And of course, his staffer and past Owyhee and Steadfast skiffman and current Morgan Anne tenderman, Ian Fisk.


SEAS Successfully passes HB218, the Cost Recovery Bill

On one of the last days of the Alaska State Legislative session, the Senate passed HB218, the Cost Recovery Bill. This is an important first step in changing the way we do cost recovery in Southeast. It may take years, decades, or it may not even be possible to do this everywhere. And SE has had a modestly successful experience with cost recovery compared to other parts of the state. Look to PWS as to what a mess the cost recovery business has become. ( I received my PWS bid packet last month and it looks like around 42 million pounds of pinks, chums and sockeye are needed for cost recovery up there.) Nonetheless this is an important first step. And a huge step at that.

Now, for the first time ever, there is a statutory- read legal- and enforceable method to generate revenues from assessments on a terminal hatchery fishery rather than just be forced to use the status quo cost recovery system we’ve used for over 2 decades. Recall SSRAA’s effort in Neets Bay in 1987 to have the fleet pay a 25% voluntary assessment and how well that worked out. This is the simple solution to that “voluntary” problem. That’s really all it is. It doesn’t force the hatchery to do anything. It just allows them to pursue another way to get the bills paid. Let’s lay out a couple of the basics about how this legislation can be used:

1. The hatchery board determines whether to even proceed with an assessment fishery in lieu of cost recovery.

2. The additional expense of this fishery will be borne by the fishermen and there will be less expense to the hatchery. It is estimated that the setup for collection on fish tickets by the Department of Revenue will be around $55,000 and then around $5,000 per year. This is small change out of a program at Hidden Falls that annually produces $900,000 or so of revenue to NSRAA.

3. The assessment bill, HB218, has penalties for enforcement that rival those of creek robbing, so it is unlikely that there will be fishermen foolish enough to risk a year in jail for not paying an assessment. Also the fish are otilith marked, so they are in themselves just like marked bills at a bank.

4. The financial risk to the hatchery is minimal, as the hatchery can always go back to the regular method of cost recovery if the assessment method proves unable to meet the hatcheries financial needs.

If you are serious about changing cost recovery so that all fishermen may participate in a regular hatchery area fishery rather than just one or a couple of boats, then be sure to weigh in with your local hatchery association. It is SEAS belief that this would best be implemented at Hidden Falls first to ensure success in a time and geographically specific area prior to opening up to changes throughout SE. It is likely that it will take years change the way we do business throughout SE and across the state regarding cost recovery.


Good Luck This Summer. I'll be on here from time to time but not too much most likely.


May Brailer Scoop Part One

1. SEAS members take on new roles in Pacific Salmon Commission

This spring found a slight shuffle in the PSC seats. SEAS board member Mitch Eide was recommended by the Governor to be seated in the alternate-Northern Panel seat that SEAS Executive Director has sat in for the past decade. SEAS ED then ascended into SEAS member Jim Bacon’s old regular Northern Panel seat and JB is now the newest in a series of exceptional Alternate Commissioners whom have served Alaska in our quest for peace with Canada over the years.

Jev Shelton previously held the Alternate Commissioner seat. Prior to Mr. Shelton, SEAS member Bruce Wallace held the seat. Prior to Mr. Wallace it was SEAS member Gary Slaven who held up the industry jockstrap when the Commission went into Executive Session. SEAS appreciates the exceptional work done over the years and particularly recently with Mr. Jev Shelton, whom SEAS supported when he took over in 1994 and whose leadership brought a new day to the Treaty when we negotiated the decade-long, abundance-based management regime that we are currently living under.
In the PSC arena, Mr. Shelton has always been a dedicated representative for commercial fishermen and he is thought of as perhaps the most brilliant of his generation of Alaskan commercial fishermen.

Yet while we appreciate the great work and sacrifice that Mr. Shelton has made on behalf of all SE sport and commercial fishermen, we are anxiously awaiting the tenure of SEAS member Mr. Bacon. Jim has been with the PSC since 1991 and has been Northern Panel Co-Chair since 1994. This is the ultimate step for JB and a wonderful reward for all the time, energy, commitment and hard work that Mr. Bacon has done on behalf of all the sport and commercial user groups in SE.

Of course, none of this changes this winter’s seating of SEAS member John Carle, who is seated in the subsistence seat on the Northern Panel. So now we find ourselves with 2 new, younger SEAS members on the Northern Panel after a decade of just Bobbyt and JB. Hopefully Mr. Eide and Mr. Carle will get a keen understanding of the PSC process and nuances prior to the major renegotiation that we’ll see in 2008. Prior to this winter there had not been a change in SEAS representation on the PSC since 1991, save for the departure of SEAS member and past Executive Director John Peckham at the end of 1995. (Has it really been that long, John?)

We are entering into negotiation phase and we’re going to do all that we can to avoid the headline-grabbing, association-draining experience that we had in the 1990’s. And while it seems that we cannot afford the time, energy nor the topic grabbing potential of the Treaty, the Canadian commercial guys can afford this even less so. They’re watching their commercial fisheries become totally marginalized. Indeed most of their commercial fisheries already are marginalized by weak stock management, sport conflicts and aboriginal treaties past and still to come. We’re sad to see that day since we are really all brothers in this commercial salmon business and we often see the changes in Canada years and even decades before those changes head up the line to Alaska.Hawk Inlet 2006…. and beyond.

2. SEAS scores with Proposal #170

At the January meeting, SEAS was vindicated in our long-sought-after remedy to the “flooding” of enhanced sockeye along the Hawk Inlet shoreline. Up to 40% of the sockeye we have harvested along that shoreline have been enhanced (hatchery) fish.
So it was a relief that the Alaska state Board of Fisheries voted 5-0 in favor of our proposal to count only the wild sockeye harvested in the July Hawk Inlet fishery. Since a board decision to allow seining in July along the shoreline, which had not occurred since 1973, the board has limited the harvest to a measly 15,000 sockeye in July. Last year the seine fleet harvested 1.7 million pink salmon while achieving the 15,000 cap. That’s almost 120 pinks for every sockeye harvested.

While 2005 was a prolific producer of pinks in upper and lower Lynn Canal, the Taku River and upper Stephens Passage, we have seen similar foregone pink opportunity in recent years, particularly 1999, 2001 and 2004. SEAS lost an identical board proposal at the board in 2003 by a 6-1 vote. While 2005’s season helped to drive the point home, there was also better education this time with the board members and also with the help of the Petersburg and Juneau ADFG Advisory Committees who both voted unanimously 12-0 and 10-0 to support SEAS proposal.

The upshot is that there will not be any additional harvest opportunities for wild stocks but the initial opportunity of 15,000 wild stock sockeyes contstraining the fishery will still be in effect as it has been since 1988. What really happened here was not so much a SEAS win as a “hold the line” approach against further losses. While USAG attempted to make the point that no pinks were surplus to escapement needs in the north in 2005 and while they cried sockeye conservation, there was just plain no evidence to allow the 15,000 wild sockeye number to deteriorate down to 9,000 or 10,000 as it has been doing since the advent of enhanced Snettisham and Taku River sockeye.

This was simply a case of “doing the right thing”.
SEAS does have a huge case for prosecuting a more aggressive fishery not only at Hawk Inlet but along most of the Icy Strait corridor. When the Icy Strait corridor was closed, the entire north end pink salmon run size was averaging in the low single digits, less than 10 million total pinks and as low as 3 million annually for nearly a decade. Now with harvests in the 25-35 million range for 4 of the past 7 years and the total run size exceeding 50 million in the north end for 2 or 3 of those years, we need to adjust to the incredible abundance of northend pink salmon that we have been consistently seeing.

And there is no sockeye conservation or subsistence problem in Lynn Canal or the Taku River. The allegations made by the gillnetters did not hold water. If there were subsistence or conservation problems or if and when they do arise, we are certain that the gillnet fleet will do the right thing and insist that their own fleet be totally closed for the week prior to demanding restrictions in a fishery like Hawk Inlet which has minimal impact on Chilkat, Chilkoot and Taku River sockeye stocks.

3. Optimism is the buzzword for the 2006 season.

Well, as of print time we hadn’t seen that adjustment from last year but hopefully it’s in your bank account as you receive this. The salmon market got a big boost on the higher end species. One of the recent hatchery coho bids went for $1.20 round. Pinks and chums are following but not as vigorously as sockeye, coho and kings. Late in the Lenten season saw the pink case price hiking to levels not seen since this pink price drought began in 2001. Now just because we get an adjustment and/or start out at the highest pink prices in 6 years doesn’t mean we’re going to make any money. Insurance, food, and equipment costs remain high and fuel prices are likely to take an extra $6-12,000 out of this summer’s earnings, on top of an additional average $5-7,000 increase in fuel bills last year. But nonetheless the market for ALL salmon is appreciating and should continue to do so until the summer of 2007 at least.

This is due to the off-cycle in most of the state for pink salmon and the major marketing effort that the state has embarked upon in the past couple of years. Even though our SE pink harvest may come in similarly to last year ( I doubt it, though), it is likely to be a much reduced pink salmon harvest statewide. Even in SE we may have some variables that will be difficult to conquer. One of these was the drought we experienced in 2004. In creeks and watersheds where pinks normally spawn in mid-late August, there were many instances of pink salmon not making it to fresh water until mid-September.
So it is possible that fecundity was a bit low for ’04 pinks and that there may have been more die-off’s than we’d previously thought. One of our friends from Kake recently relayed to me the massive die-off’s he’d seen in the Kuiu Island area.

But enough doom and gloom, back to marketing. The other harbinger of good market news is the entrance of new processing capacity. At least 2 floaters are coming in to operate in addition to last year’s buying capacity and a couple of smaller operators plan on taking a bunch more fish than last year. Certainly the optimism in the salmon world had to play into the thinking behind the mega-merger that almost was this spring between OBSI and Trident. And though it isn’t always with good intentions that Chuck Bundrant is called the “Bill Gates” of the Alaska fishing industry, we at Southeast Alaska Seiners use good intentions when WE call him that. Certainly there is always that issue of fairness in pricing that fishermen deserve to be concerned about when companies get to be so large and so few in the industry. Yet there is something truly amazing about a simple fisherman who, over the course of 40 years, works diligently to amass control of about 25-30% of all Alaskan fisheries. Trident has always been a good partner to work on political, treaty and marketing issues with SEAS.

The sockeyes look to be more promising price wise for the type of quality we produce in Southeast. The abundance looks to be higher in most of the usual and accustomed places that seiners fish for sockeye. The landfall of those Horsefly sockeye in 104 last year saved what was otherwise a very dismal sockeye return in most SE regions. This year should have the Adams return, which is similar but later than the Horsefly. (Both tributaries of the Fraser of course)

4. SEAS Crewmember Membership List.
(The following vessels have their full crews signed up.. Names will be printed in the November newsletter)

Crews of the following vessels are SEAS crewmember members:

FV Cape Reliant
FV Corva May
FV Island Pride
FV Lady Jane
FV Little Lady
FV Marshall Tito
FV Odin
FV Pamela Rae
FV Secure
FV Voyager

Thanks to those of you who’ve signed up their crews already this year. Remember, crew memberships have gone up to $50 this year but if you sign up your entire crew at once you can just pay the one time fee of $150 per year and all of your crew will be members.
Just send in their addresses to my email address or fax them to (907)463-5083 and they’ll be added to the mailing list for newsletters. SEAS can use all the help it can get and this is just one more way you can make a difference.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Fleet Consolidation

So I'm doing some office cleaning today and I find a 1988 SEAS survey.

In 1988, Fleet Consolidation was supported by 83% of respondents to the survey.

That's almost exactly the numbers we recently ran at SEAS. The major, official, Bedford survey in 2002 was 77%. The more recent 2004 Fall Survey ran 83% and I've had several folks change their minds in favor this past spring and winter. Now that survey is 18 months old but the loan conditions and the fact that we were going to have to pay an assessment were well considered by then.

I've heard mostly positive comments about the fleet consolidation program, both from academics, public leaders and the rank and file- us fishermen. Now that is not exclusive and there are some naysayers. It's taken way too long but we're as close as one can possibly be without having it in our hand.

But if there's another way to help commercial salmon seiners in Southeast like we've attempted to do with TAA, the Treaty, Marketing, and every other trick we've tried to pull out of the bag for you, if there's a way that we missed, let us know. 463-5030. SEAS office line in Juneau.

SEAS doesn't have all the answers.

But we try to do our best with what we've got to move the industry ahead as much as possible.......

...Statewide as well so that we have allies to work with and to defend ourselves, elbow to elbow, without causing any undue stress on the institution that enables us to do what we do.

And what is it that we do. We have a privilege to harvest salmon surplus to escapement needs throughout the purse seine districts in SE Alaska. We work primarily at SEAS to ensure access to the SE Alaska salmon resource so that we may make enough of an economic return to feed our families after contributing to the great state of Alaska and its local communities and our fellow businesses that we need to survive. Seiners' contributions to crew wages and fuel, grub, taxes and operating expenses generally runs well in excess of 50% of our fishing income. In some cases it runs close to 70-80%.

In any event, that's even before the 3% that we'd have to pay in the fleet consolidation assessment. But that will be a very good investment and that is for another blog.

So. 1988. The peak of SE. The highest prices. The $400,000 gross stocks ( in 1988 dollars after inflation (18 years) that'd be around $750,000 at least in today's dollars.

So. In 1988 there were 83% of you who wanted a buyback- consolidation program.

Then in 2002, there's 77%.

In 2004, there's 83% again.

Since the threshhold is 67% by statute, maybe it's time you started thinking constructively about how you want to see this final product and not whether you want to see fleet consolidation at all. It's going to happen with or without you.

SEAS would like to see you there with us together, shoulder at the wheel.

Good Day


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

HB484 Awaits Transmittal To Governor

HB484 got its concurrence from the House today, the last day of the regular session. So we're good to go, with 10 hours left in the session.

Representative Wilson did a great job for us.

So SEAS got 2 very important bills through this session, plus another UFA bill, HB251, that deals with permit stacking and gives the board authority to do some stacking in those parts of the state that want it. HB218 is going to take alot of thinking and alot of work.

HB484 helps us with the risk associated with putting up all that money for the buyback.
Now we have an assurance that if there is a day when more of those permits get put back into the fishery, we have a 30 year window to get that money back that we invested.

Good day.


Monday, May 08, 2006

HB484 Passes Senate

HB484, the Fishery Association ( read SRA) Reimbursement bill, just passed the Senate last night. Now it awaits House concurrence on a minor amendment and then on the the Governor for signing.

Thanks to those of you who helped with this and also with HB218. The calls, the letters, the emails, they are all a part of the program. This is how actual fisheries politics works. This is why SEAS is an exceptional investment in good politics and good public policy.

And of course a special thanks to Rep. Peggy Wilson and her staff, all of her staff, including Becky Rooney but particularly the 2 who worked on this specifically, Jean Ellis and Linda Miller.

Session ends tomorrow night at midnight. I'll keep you informed just to make sure that the technical moves are made so that this really gets through the legislature.

good day

Sunday, May 07, 2006

HB218 Awaits transmittal to Governor

HB218 got over to the House today where they concurred with the Senate amendments and HB218 now awaits transmittal to the Governor, where we can be certain that it will be signed into law. So great job guys. Way to move some legislation with great potential to help commercial salmon fishermen in Alaska.

Take a moment when you have time to check out HB218, the Cost Recovery Assessment Fisheries legislation.

HB484 is in 3rd reading on the Senate floor tomorrow, May 7th, so we should be able to get concurrence out of the House and get that one ready soon as well, hopefully.
At least hopefully before 12 midnite on May 9th, the end of regular session.

Again, a couple of steps left for HB484, but we're in on 218 so it's time to start thinking about discussions with NSRAA and how Pete and Steve and the NSRAA board believes we can best accomplish something together to make some of our enhancement location fisheries better for both the hatchery and the fleet. The SEAS board was initially considering Hidden Falls as a great spot to look at using this legislation.

And if we can get HB484 it will certainly be a big boost to our fleet consolidation program and will provide the momentum to get us over the finish line on the federal side of the program.
We worked hard with CFEC on this legislation and CFEC, along with ADFG, is going to be there with us, working on the fleet consolidation program....

Cross your fingers. We should come out of this session with some progressive legislation that will leave us with a blueprint of progressively improved efficiency, management and regulation for our fishery and industry. In the end this should play itself out to be a more stable economic environment for our fishermen. At times it seems like we never get ahead, or at least stay ahead, but we're trying to pull out all the stops and work all the angles and options we can. If you're a SEAS member or even just a concerned fisherman or business owner in the SEAS economic or political arena, give a shout, #'s 463-5030 in our Juneau office.

It's not completely fenced in yet, but let lay out some of the more obvious SEAS activities for 2006-2008.

Work with ADFG to continue to maintain access when abundance warrants
Further participation in USDA programs(2006-forever)
Pacific Salmon Treaty renegotiations (2006-2008)
Salmon Marketing, Transportation and Infrastructure Funding(2006-2008)
Working with NSRAA to implement hb218 (2006-2008)
Completing the last $3 million of $7 million in total grants(2006)
Completing legislation authorizing the $18 million NMFS loan(2006)
Finishing up the vote and paying for the bought back permits (spring, 2007)
Helping shape the course of leadership in Alaska (2006 Gov. Leg. elections)

There's more and more and more but you get the drift.
Nonetheless, if you have a great idea, like the guys pounding on fuel subsidies, or anything, give a call, leave a message, get ahold of me or whatever.


seas ed

Friday, May 05, 2006

HB218 Passes Senate 18-0

This evening's Senate floor session produced passage of HB218, our very important Cost Recovery bill. Kudos to Ian Fisk and Representative Bill Thomas.


HB484 passes Senate Finance

HB484, Fishery Association Reimbursement, passed through Senate Finance today. There is a 30 year time limit from the date of the loan that was added as an amendment in Senate Finance as well today so the bill will have to go back to the House for concurrence when and if it first passes on the Senate floor.

HB218, the Cost Recovery Bill, is up on the Senate floor today. We don't expect any trouble, so if it passes through 3rd reading, which is today, then it too goes to the House for concurrence as there were amendments in both Resources and Finance on the Senate side.

Although something could go wrong, it is unlikely as we have an incredible ally in the Senate Rules Chairman and of course the full weight of support coming from both the bills major sponsors, Bill Thomas of hb218, and Peggy Wilson of hb484. Also thanks to the staff who helped out, primarily Ian Fisk from Thomas' office and Jean Ellis and Linda Miller(finally got it right) from Wilson's office. The Governor's office helped as well with Mr. Austerman, ADFG Commissioner McKie Campbell and CommissionerFrank Homan from CFEC. And the department of Revenue sent Mr. Tim Cottongim to deal with any implications of hb218, and he worked well with us.

Thanks also to UFA also who pitched in with Mark and Jerry.
And to those UFA member groups, you know who you are, who pitched in as well.
Now mind you this isn't over until it's over but we've at least got both bills through committee and I doubt there is much opposition and since the Senate has already voted on hb484 7-0 and 6-1 in both the Resource and Finance Committees respectively. hb218 didn't have nearly as much widespread support but shouldn't see much opposition neither.

Thanks to those of you who sent in correspondence to your Rep's and Senators.
This is really how the process works, not just some stories about slippery halls and downtown deals. You formulate an idea through an organization like SEAS, bring the idea to the halls of the legislature, and work with drafters and staff and legislators to refine it so that it's legal and fits SEAS purpose within the confines of the regulatory and statutory provisions of the state of Alaska.


Wednesday, May 03, 2006

HB218 Passes Senate Finance

HB218, Cost Recovery Reform, is in Senate Rules, with our good friend Chairman John Cowdery.

HB218 passed with the Stedman amendments attached- which were in the end very fair- but we weren't successful in passing HB484 from the Senate Finance Committee.

Perhaps 2 bills in one day were too much for the Commitee but we look forward to the possibility of doing this again tomorrow or Friday.

That's all for now. I'll keep you posted.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board

The Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board has been a dream come true to those of us at UFA who worked and waited several years while Senator Ted Stevens worked tirelessly on behalf of Alaskan fishermen to provide relief when we needed it most.

This board has 11 members. Ben Stevens is no longer chair so there are currently 10 members on it while we await that seat replacement.

AFMB is one of Senator Ted Stevens reigning commercial salmon industry accomplishments.
He's already sent back $36 million in 3 years (4 annual installments) (10-10-9-7 , so as you can see it's getting smaller).

This money is used from tariffs on seafood IMPORTS into the US, notably Vietnamese catfish, Norweigan salmon and Thailand shrimp. This money is supposed to be used as it is being used in Alaska. In 1998, Senator Stevens approached Bruce Schactler in a meeting in Girdwood and told him to pursue this avenue. Bruce listened to the good Senator and after a few years of working with the S&M ( Schactler and McAllister) Marketing plan- which was renamed to the UFA Marketing Plan-- we finally achieved this. Then the board was picked.

Ray Riutta- ASMI Executive Director
Al Burch- Alaska Dragger's Association, UFA board member
Bob Thorstenson- United Fishermen of Alaska( although my mail addresses me as PSVOA)
Bruce Schactler- UFA Marketing Chairman
Ben Stevens ( past seat) Senate President
Duncan Fields- UFA Secretary
Joe Gulley- Safeway
Mark Tupper- Orca Bay
Paul Dale- Snug Harbor Seafoods
Jim Jansen- principal, Lynden family of companies
Trevor McCabe- past UFA board member and ED of APA.

Now aside from the large proportion of UFA board members on this board, I don't see anything at all wrong with the cross section of this board aside from the fact that there are too many members from Kodiak. Just kidding.

Anyways, we're doing great things over at AFMB and we'll continue to do so.

Keep the faith.


Monday, May 01, 2006

Buckets of Crabs

Please let me indulge you in a bit of a story that is very familiar in the Alaska seafood industry. The crabs and the bucket. As soon as one crab gets close to the edge of the bucket the other less fortunate crabs drag him or her back down with them. You know the drill.

Well this is a story about some of those more successful crabs. Sorry if I missed you but it's hard to keep track of all the good folks out there who have been run through so much mud by the blograkers.

Oh. I've read about former ADFG Commissioner Kevin Duffy and current Commissioner McKie Campbell and Deputy Commissioner David Bedford and Special Assistant Sue Aspelund. And so on and so on. I'll stay away from the elected officials but you know what SEAS position is on them as well.

The only thing these folks have in common, generally, is that they are all exceptionally talented public servants and fisheries managers. Why they have been the negative subjects of any articles on blogs or on ink is absolutely beyond comprehension for the men and women who participate in the Alaska seafood industry and work on behalf of commercial fishing families.

And the list goes on. Still fortunately in the private sector we have Rob Zuanich. The singlemost talented Executive Director who ever worked for a fishing association on the west coast of North America.

Joe Childers, UFA VP. The champ of the small boat trawl fleet who, along with Al Burch's tireless efforts have brought this fleet into the mainstream. He has worked tirelessly for many of SEAS members who either own boats that fish in the Gulf trawl fleet or work as deckhands or alternate skippers.

Bruce Schactler, UFA Marketing Chair. Believed in Ted Stevens when it counted and believed in Ted's promise to produce the AFMB, us guys that painted the jet.

Arni Thomsen, UFA National Chair. Spent his later years off the deck working tirelessly for the crab fleet. He has always been a team player and although the crab fleet has had bad local press lately with the rationalization stuff we're convinced that the longer- term picture for those fishermen who dedcide to and also have the ability to remain in the BSAI crab fisheries will prosper tremendously.

Arne Fuglvog, UFA board member, 2005 fisherman of the year. What can we say about our "fisherman of the year". Hard to imagine that he could get slammed by commfish writers.

Duncan Fields, UFA Secretary. One of the bloggers assasinated Mr. Fields character. The only major casualty of our Kodiak friends other than Mr. Schactler.

There's more folks. Sorry if I forgot some important crabs who recently may have been bashed by the bloggers or other so-called "writers".
In any event, as you can easily see, in nearly each and every case you would find a determined person laying aside their own needs and desires for the many Alaskan fishermen out there that we collectively represent.

But each fleet has its own demons. And I would imagine that more fisheries were lost as the fishermen were cracking crabs with those in the best position to save the whole bucket.

Happy May Day