What do SEAS and the 3 Angoon governmental and corporate entities have in common?
The following captures most, but not all of our common interests, beginning with the most recent news piece about Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins, the Alaska State Legislative representative for Angoon, replacing Bill Thomas.
1. We strongly supported JKT in his win over Bill Thomas.
Angoon turned out 2-1 for JKT. SEAS members in Hydaburg, Hoonah, Kake, Sitka and Klawock came out to vote for JKT and SEAS members from other SE communities strongly supported JKT's campaign, along with the commercial fishing PACs and the trollers- to the tune of 20-25% of his financial support.
2. Longtime SEAS members Peter Jack, Ronald Johns and Dennis Eames used to count as major leaders in the Angoon community. Several of their ex-crew members still reside in Angoon.
It is from leaders in the seine fleet like these men as well as Hoonah SEAS greats like Joe White and Johnny Hinchman that us younger guys learned how to catch salmon in Chatham Strait. If we still had Peter, Ronald and Dennis in the seine fleet, or someone to replace them, SEAS believes that we'd have never had this issue run so far up the Federal flagpole.
3. Both SEAS and Angoon are striving to ensure that sockeye systems in Chatham Strait are robust. In fact, the recent half decade has produced the largest recorded returns to Kanalku on record, with 2009,2010 and 2012 returning total numbers averaging 3000 sockeye through the Chatham Strait to the Kanalku system. In fact, under normal ADFG protocol, Kanalku would be considered a fully recovered sockeye system.
4. SEALASKA shareholders harvest 20% of the pink salmon returning to the Chatham Strait corridor in the passing stock fishery that passes the waters outside Kanalku. And while the seine fleet from Angoon has shrunk from 3 seiners with 18 good paying jobs down to zero in recent years, it is a goal of both Angoon and SEAS to work together on a program in the future to get permits and boats working out of Angoon.
Hydaburg was down to one seiner as recently as 1990. Now there are 4 seiners who caught 4.5 million pounds in 2011 worth $2.5 million ex-vessel, $6 million wholesale----up from ex-vessel value of $100,000, $250,000 wholesale in 1990. In 2012 the ex-vessel in Hydaburg was $1.6 million and the wholesale was $4 million. Not a bad business model for a sustainable industry for a community with both high economic and subsistence values.
5. SEAS supports an ADFG management program that adapted in the 1980's and 1990's to harvest a very modest effort in Chatham in late June and early to mid-July. In fact, in the even cycle years of 2008-2010-2012 there was not a single seine-caught salmon within 30 miles of Angoon and nearly all of Chatham Strait was closed due to poor winter conditions leading to low pink salmon abundance.
Amazingly, the incidental harvest of sockeye salmon bound for Kanalku was obviously very low even in 2009 and 2011 when the seine fishery operated extensively in Chatham. Albeit 2011 was the weak cycle for Kanalku historically, it was a 50% increase from e parent year of 2007 and nearly triple that of the grandparent year of 2003.
ADFG closed Danger Pt and has a 9 mile bubble around Angoon that is temporarily closed to seining. Both SEAS and Angoon want to make this a permanent closure.
6. SEAS and Angoon support ongoing and further mark recapture studies to determine the impact of Kanalku falls on returning sockeye. While years of low water flows, such as 2009-2011 indicate robust passage, it is apparent from the preliminary 2012 numbers, along with the USFS counts from the mid 2000's, that years of strong water flows and heavy July rains impede sockeye passage as much as 50-70%. Obviously that is a rate far exceeding the highest harvest rate the seine fleet could ever impact the Kanalku system with the current management regime. To this end both Angoon and SEAS support improvement of sockeye passage with blasting to make a deeper holding pool or providing a fish ladder for use on years of high water flow. Ironically, Bill Thomas helped procur a $250,000 budget increment to study such goals. We'll need further support from JKT on this as most of that funding was used up in the report and study.
7. Speaking of the current management regime, and touching on common point number 5, consider the sockeye bubbles and restrictions that ADFG has placed on the seine fleet the vast majority of the sockeye pass through the Chatham corridor prior to opening the seine season. This is an easy characterization when one considers the Bristol Bay model. Once the 15-20 of July arrives, there could be any fishery imaginable without impacting sockeye escapement, as 80-95% of sockey have passed to the local Chatham streams y this time. And certainly by July 25, it's just a pink salmon fishery. Indeed, the last day that a member of the famous Kookesh family has ever subsistence fished for Kanalku sockeye is July 21.
FYI, here are the strategic goals of Kootznoowoo, Inc. from their website.
2. Seek Financial Stability and Profitability – we will manage our asset profitably seeking stability of earnings.
3. Maintain Excellent Board Governance and Effectiveness – management to assist Board in regular and routine review of policies and procedures to maintain accountability, productivity and effectiveness.
4. Maintain Efficient Organization – management to constantly develop and implement processes and procedures necessary to reduce operating costs and improve productivity.
5. Manage Investments – management to review annually the Board’s investment policy and implement and monitor external management with a focus on risk return trade off and costs of implementation.
6. Produce Shareholder Dividend – management to review annually the Board’s dividend policy and recommend changes as appropriate with the goal of creating sustainable dividend.
7. Evaluate Opportunities – management to promptly and effectively evaluate new business opportunities to assist in the growth of the company and its dividend.
8. Effective Communications – management to assist Board in communicating effectively with each other, employees, shareholders and all interested parties.
9. Foster Cultural Identity – promote and protect the history and culture of the Corporation and its Shareholders.
Nowhere in Kootznwoowoo's website, mission statement or strategic goals does SEAS find any inference or direction to close, curtail or usurp the state of Alaska's Chatham Strait management that benefits SEALASKA members to the tune of tens of millions of dollars and hundreds, if not thousands of jobs for the communities of Hydaburg, Kake, Hoonah, Sitka, Metlakatla, Klawock, Craig or even the SEALASKA members of Juneau, Petersburg or Ketchikan.
It is SEAS goal to work together with ADFG to retain state management of the Chatham corridor to the benefit of ALL communities, including Angoon. We believe that the lack of understanding of the Board of Fish process by Kootznoowoo leadership and the complexities of the Board of Fish process has led to misunderstandings of long-standing conservation that ADFG has implemented in recent decades. These conservation closures, along with time and area precision management, has led to such success at Kanalku that the last half decade has seen Kanalku returns at all time high abundance levels.
See you at the Task Force meeting December 6th, Centennial Hall, Juneau, 8AM if you are interested in the future of Chatham Strait salmon purse seine management.
Robert M. Thorstenson, Jr.
Executive Director, SEAS