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.

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