Wednesday, February 21, 2007

SEAS Board Meeting

SEAS Annual Board meeting is being held in Juneau this Saturday through Monday, February 24-26.

If you happen to be in town or live in town, give a call for the location and times.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

Last of February Newsletter Articles

2007 SEAS and UFA Legislation: Fisheries Fairness Act

There is one major bill that SEAS will be helping UFA to introduce this session.
UFA endorsed the bill in concept at the recent January UFA semi-annual meeting.
The bill will tackle 2 major issues for commercial fishermen in Alaska ( it has not been determined whether this will apply to salmon fishermen only or whether there will be application to other species as well). We have the green light from the 3rd floor on this and will be aggressively pursuing this major legislation in the coming days.

1. Bonding and Fisherman Placement- As you might know, we have only a $10,000 bond requirement for processors in Alaska. This seems to not only be insufficient for non-Alaskan based companies with no attachable assets within the state, but whenever there is a bankruptcy, we are always the last guy to get paid—as an unsecured creditor. Why are we unsecured creditors when it’s our fish? We’d like to change that also. And then there is the jurisdictional issue. Without a requirement that the processor who absconded with our fish come back to the state to stand trial, we often end up with unsympathetic judges dealing with our cases. And then we have to pay attorney fees ( which we’ll try to get out of the future bonds as well) and follow the processor to wherever they declare bankruptcy.

2. Contracts and Arbitration- There is a statute on the books to require the state to provide an arbitrator or mediator if prices are not set for up to 90 days before the season. Problem #1 exists of course when our salmon commodity market fluctuates so much. Of course we don’t want to set prices in 2007 until later as we know they’ll go up by summer. But it can and does go both ways, where we might set a price and then see markets tank due to overproduction or whatever. Problem #2 with the legislation on the books is that, although it sets up this system, no one is required to show up to meet with the arbitrator or mediator. Quite a glitch, eh?

We don’t anticipate for the contract and arbitration issues to be easily resolved. Salmon fishermen are perhaps the only relics left from the 1800’s where business was done on a handshake. And although most all of our major processors have been very honorable to do business with, there has to be a time in our future where we have a bit more transparency and have our prices tied to some market reality. SEAS is not insinuating that prices have not been fair and it is not in our charter to negotiate prices. But it is in our charter to deal with political issues and pass legislation that will make for a fairer and more level playing field for commercial fishermen.

Who knows what the next generation of processors will be? Who will own them? Will they be just major multinational conglomerates. Certainly Mr. Bundrant, Mr. Giles, Mark Palmer, Jon Garner, Gordon Lindquist and the rest of our major buyers are honorable men with whom a handshake has been more than enough. But is this our future? These men and their companies are honorable and trustworthy, but times change and SEAS believes that the time is approaching swiftly where we need to safeguard the integrity of the political process that will ensure the fair treatment of ourselves and future commercial fishermen in Alaska. With massive consolidation occurring in the global food business, we may have a completely different slate of ownership and managers than we have today, and perhaps having Alaska’s interest ( since the state of Alaska derives their major taxation benefits through our ex-vessel, not the processors wholesale price) and our interest protected will take a bit more than a handshake.


SEAS Purchases 25% of the Alaska Fishermen’s Building

For several decades SEAS paid rent on Waters Street in Ketchikan. Enough rent to have paid for the office we were in. In 2003, when Mr. Zuanich and your ED bought the Alaska Fishermen’s Building, we did it because there was no recognizable location in the Alaska Capitol for commercial fishermen.

Now there is and if you’ve ever seen a picture on the PSVOA website or been to Juneau in person in the past several years you have seen the access, location and promotion that just the SEAS has with office space in the building. There is the trademark SEAS sign(a Kevin Patrick special) on the railing along with the “Big Dipper” and 7 gold stars looks like with “Alaska Fishermen’s Building” facing square between the Legislative Office Building and the Governor’s mansion.

In 2006, SEAS board of directors determined that an investment with our reserve account would be a great way to get ahead and solidify our presence in Juneau. So SEAS invested $100,000 into the Alaska Fishermen’s Building for 25% of the ownership of the building. The independent appraisal done last spring put the value of the building at $452,000, thus showing an increase in SEAS investment from the original $100,000 to $113,000 the day we bought into the building. An automatic $13,000 gain.

There are a couple of other tenants in the 6 room, 4200 square foot building, but there is room enough to sleep 4 SEAS board members very comfortably and up to 7 or 8 if they want to bunk with the ED and/or sleep on sofa’s as well. Come on up and visit sometime. My offer is yet open to the first Southeast Alaska Seiners member who decides to come visit this spring—that I will pay his way up here.

I know this is a major step for a non-profit but longtime SEAS members who recall the opportunity they passed on in Ketchikan to purchase part of the building back then believe that this is a golden opportunity and that this will be very beneficial not only financially for the organization but also will highlight the organization by being so open and central in state capitol.

Good day


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

2007 ADFG Prediction

Note that last year's run size was more like 29 million all gear, all species, rather than the 19 million in the following article... I believe they just added the pinks in at 1.7 million rather than 11.7 million.


Sunday, February 04, 2007

It's Official: Denby Lloyd is Commissioner

Governor Palin Appoints Denby LloydFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 07-021
Governor Palin Appoints Denby Lloyd as Commissioner of Fish and Game Thanks the Joint Board of Fisheries and Game for Nomination
February 3, 2007, Juneau, Alaska - Governor Sarah Palin today appointed Denby Lloyd as Commissioner of the Department of Fish and Game.
The Governor received a single name for the position from the Joint Board of the Alaska Board of Fisheries and the Alaska Board of Game. Denby Lloyd was unanimously approved by both boards Wednesday night. The Governor appointed Lloyd as Acting Commissioner on December 26, 2006.
“I want to thank the members of the Joint Board for their service and I congratulate Denby for receiving such a strong showing of support,” said Governor Palin. “There were three strong candidates – all wonderful Alaskans who would serve the state well. Denby has ably led the department for the past month while working through the board process, and I’m so happy to reaffirm him as Commissioner of Fish and Game. Now we can get on with the important business of managing and developing Alaska’s fish and wildlife.”
Lloyd received a Master of Science in Biological Oceanography from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. He has worked in numerous positions at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and other resource management agencies in Alaska since 1974, including as Director of the Division of Commercial Fisheries and Regional Finfish Supervisor. Lloyd will be a member of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council where many important decisions are made that affect Alaska commercial and sport fishermen. He is a certified fisheries scientist with the American Fisheries Society and an associate with the American Institute of Fishery Research Biologists.
He will join several other department commissioners in a swearing-in ceremony next week in Juneau.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

February Newsletter Part #2

Denby Lloyd is new ADFG Commissioner// and Scott Walker is the new Phil Doherty

Hot off the press, night before last, Mr. Lloyd became Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game when the joint boards of Fish and Game sent his name to Governor Palin for appointment. His confirmation process should be an easy one as he is well liked and respected throughout the state. His work for the department began in the mid-1980’s culminating in the early 1990’s with a stint as Director of Commercial Fisheries. He then did some private sector work, returning to the department as Western Region supervisor under Commfish(shortened version of Dir. Of Comm. Fish.) Director Doug Mecum in the late 1990’s.

In 2005, he was Mr. Mecums replacement as Commfish Director. We had thought we’d lost him to the Fed’s in December, but through her brilliance and swagger, Governor Sarah Palin convinced Commissioner Lloyd to come back into state service. And for that we will be forever grateful to Governor Palin.

And although his bosses on the 3rd floor, Chief of Staff Mike Tibbles, and Legislative Director John Bittney, are remarkable appointments in and of themselves, this appointment of Mr. Denby Lloyd really takes the cake. We at SEAS have always been huge fans of Mr. Lloyd and have long thought that he would eventually rise to this position to run the shop that manages our livelihoods. Naturally, Mr. David Bedford will be his deputy Commissioner and consequently, the lead Commissioner for the Pacific Salmon Treaty renegotiations that will be occurring over the course of the next couple of years.

Mr. Scott Walker, of Ketchikan, took the helm from one of our long-held favorite area management biologists, Mr. Phil Doherty, this past fall. We will miss Phil as he heads over to manage our friends at SARDFA, but are encouraged by the dedication and experience that Mr. Walker brings to the job. He worked under Phil for over a dozen years and while your editor will not research enough to give him the background he deserves here and now, we look forward to working with Mr. Walker and believe that he will be a successful manager in the long line of incredible Ketchikan managers we have had at the department. If you do not know Scott, give a call sometime at (907)225-5195 and see if he has a few minutes to get acquainted.


Losing Nakat

OK, now here’s a long story that we’ll try to make short enough to put into the newsletter. Back in 2001 and 2002, seiners were out on the high end of the enhanced allocation range. Gillnetters were bouncing around in the low end, but within their range, even though the current accounting for total numbers and dealing with roe issues were yet buried in those old numbers. We have been assured (and are assured by the way) that the business has changed and that a more thorough and accurate accounting of gillnet enhancement benefits is occurring.

So, the SEAS board members on the SSRAA board saw an opportunity to release the entire allowable amount of SSRAA chums on the books. This occurred concurrently with some funding coming through on those years with the SSSF(southeast sustainable salmon fund). SSRAA got $2.8 million as well. So, in order to get 10 million more chums released at Kendrick Bay, 14 million more released at Anita Bay and 5 million more chums released at Neets Bay, to also stabilize a rotational fishery at Anita Bay and to keep Kendrick as a seine only fishery, the seiners on the SSRAA board (along with SEAS concurrence ( this happened in 2002)), determined that it was necessary to agree to the removal of the seine rotation at Nakat Inlet at least until the overall enhancement allocation numbers had changed substantially.

There has not been a formal mechanism for Southeast Alaska Seiners involvement in enhancement organizations. SSRAA and NSRAA board members, while normally SEAS members, do not have an automatic obligation to SEAS, although intrinsically we’d like to think that they would normally think of SEAS interests first. So, while the longstanding doctrine of “never giving up a single set or mile of beach” was violated in this instance, there were allocative issues surrounding the “deal” at the time as well as great benefits to seiners by creating a 50-50 deal at Anita Bay and cranking up the Kendrick Bay releases.

Certainly SEAS will never endorse giving up area and time in trade for anything, any time, anyhow, anyplace. But in this instance we did. And it was a mistake.

Having said that, it is apparent that there may be some serious upside to the increased fishery at both Anita Bay and Kendrick, where we harvested a combined total of over a million chums this past year. We are experiencing a crash through the allocation range and are out on the lower end the past 2 years on a 5 year rolling average ( the mechanism set up by the Board of Fisheries in 1994 to address enhancement imbalances between the fleets dictates that a fleet must be out of it’s range 3 years on a 5-year rolling average) and the gillnet fleet is out 3 years on the high side on a 5 year rolling average.

So, even though we don’t like to go to the Board of Fisheries to address these issues, rather inclining ourselves to working these out with the other gear groups prior to the BOF cycles, we are, ironically, going to be in the drivers seat very shortly due to our failure and the gillnetters success. If this sustains it’s momentum, then we will be able to go back to the Board of Fisheries to change the deal on Nakat, unless the SSRAA gillnetters approach us with a deal before we get to the BOF and make a settlement , and make preparations to re-enter Nakat Inlet.

So why, you ask, did we lose Nakat at a proposal at the 2006 Board of Fish cycle and not earlier. Well, the ”deal”, ( and your ED will take full responsibility for the “deal”, although I was not hired by SEAS yet. I had been involved with SE seine – as a board member from 93-97, and sticking close to the organization from 1998 to May -2003 when you guys hired me. So while I was not on the SSRAA board either, I had heard about the “deal” and did nothing to stop it at the time. Just because I wasn’t running the show didn’t mean that I couldn’t have said anything. I am not one to relinquish my responsibility for my fishery just because I’m not in the room at the time. We all need to share responsibility and blame because it is all of our fishery. If I had wanted to be more involved I had the opportunity to do so. Not only that, but trusting the instincts of the Ketchikan guys on the board led me to believe, as is likely, that the overall benefits will yet exceed the loss of Nakat for the short term.) was not made until it was too late to submit to the 2003 BOF cycle – as proposals had to be in by April, 2002 for that cycle.

By 2006 it was increasingly apparent, that with Hidden Falls shorting on us along with better accounting for the gillnet fleet, that we probably shouldn’t have had to go the full sacrifice of Nakat in this trade but it was too far along to go back. Not to mention that USAG wasn’t about to let us in any event.

So, we made a decision that isn’t normally our Modus Operandi. And I don’t think we’ll ever do it again. But what’s done is done. Sorry.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

February Newsletter Part 1

Fleet Consolidation

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,, for further information.


SEAS Membership

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