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.


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