Victoria: Out of State Companies Dominate Our Seafood Industry!

by

airstrip endof 6-09 010

Jul 3, 2009

The reality of fishing, at least here in the Ugashik Fishing District of Bristol Bay, is that although the fish are here to be harvested fishermen are sitting on shore with nets out of the water!!

This has gotten so common the last few years that the state now has predicted which days that will happen, mostly the best fishing days!!

I am getting phone calls from fishermen all over our fishing district wanting to know if we are up and processing yet.

Hoping we can help them by buying a few more pounds, or even any, of their catch because they either do not have a secure buyer for their fish, are on limit by their present buyer, or their regular buyer hasn’t come down to our river yet as they are busy buying from the other river systems.

Ugashik Fishing District, one of the five in Bristol Bay, in the only river district, supporting 3 area villages, that does not have a large processor. This is despite our CDQ owning a major portion of one of the largest processors in Alaska. A number of fishermen, even resident fishermen do not have a market with this company. Makes you wonder what deals were made or not made. Given we, as all western village residents, are shareholders in the CDQ.

In our two villages of Pilot Point and Ugashik we have at least 30%, by last informal tally, of fishermen without a secure market, and all but handful get put on limit or have no buyer at all for anywhere from 1-6 days each year. In the village of Ugashik only our CDQ board member has a secure market.

Last year a special meeting was held in the area hub town of Naknek to discuss this issue, called forgone harvest. Overall the impression that most carry away from it, the state is going to let the private industry figure it out.

We have allowed, even greatly encouraged, out of state companies to dominate our seafood industry. Why?

I have heard lots about the lack of infrastructure in Western Alaska and thus we can’t compete. Did anyone ever think that if we were processing that seafood in the state there would be more dollars kept here to work their way through the system to support the building of more infrastructure?

I realize all of this is years in the making and not an easy situation but to continue this is a waste of talent, monies and the growth, healthy sustainable growth of our villages and state economy.

~ Victoria

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6 Responses to “Victoria: Out of State Companies Dominate Our Seafood Industry!”

  1. Nan Says:

    Thank you for saying some of what I’ve wondered these last months! I thought I must be stupid or I’d missed something that made it make sense, but aha! The only one it seems to make sense to is them that aren’t paying any attention to it anyway (the state, for instance).

    I think I understand what the “CDQ” is, although I’m not sure of what each initial stands for exactly.

    And there is only one to have a “secure market”? That – well, that would stick in my craw, I gotta admit.

    Thanks for sharing your “opinions.”

    Nan

  2. grouchygranny Says:

    Maybe with Sarah Palin gone, there will be more reasonable consideration for these problems in Juneau. Her resignation can’t hurt!

  3. alaskapi Says:

    grouchygranny-

    The problems were here long before this adminstration and sadly will be here long after.
    The will to work toward long term solutions for a future with dignity for rural Alaska has gained some steam lately. I’m hoping we can build on that..

    At this point, Alaskan children in the bush are kinda like Vic’s forgone fish thingy…
    Lots work to do to change that… keep stopping by. We need all the voices and ideas we can scrounge up.

  4. Elsie Says:

    “In the village of Ugashik only our CDQ board member has a secure market.” That is just wrong on so many levels!

    So what does it take to become a member of your CDQ board?

    Does the board file an annual report?

    Is it public information?

    Where can we see a copy?

    Can you post it here?

  5. UgaVic Says:

    This forgone harvest issue has been going prior the current governor and fisheries leaders. It is a complex issue and will not be handled in one way or quickly BUT it needs to be addressed.

    I point at our CDQ as they are in the position to make a difference in a way that I understood to be mandated by Congress; to help western AK villages (ALL residents) to see economic stability and sustainability via our Bering Seas fisheries.

    Also their decision to purchase a major portion of a large processor and NOT specifically address the lack of markets, for at the time ALL set net fishermen, in the Ugashik District seems irresponsible. In the last 3 years they have made no valid attempts to specifically address this either.

    All the board members in our CDQ are chosen via their local tribes. They are SUPPOSE to represent ALL residents as this is NOT a NATIVE ONLY program. (reminds my spouse of the same thing blacks were told in the south when they were not allowed a vote and yet where told that their white representatives took care of them)

    Our CDQ does provide a yearly report and I can get a copy of it and post it. One is provided to each resident. It is public information.

    We also have others who are raising the question of why the forgone harvest is not being addressed with some specific ideas and plans. So far I have only heard of lots of studies, something I seem to see a lot of in Alaska.

    For me it comes back to what is needed to help our villages and Western Alaska. Having fishermen sit parts or all of the season out because of a lack of markets when the rest of the world demand more and more Alaska Wild Salmon.

    Enough on my soap box:-))

  6. Kath the Scrappy Says:

    Maybe this seems a little OT, but after moving to Seattle in 1970 from Arizona, I was always mystified by how MUCH political clout Ted Stevens from AK welded here in Washington State. The fishing industry here supplied a big chunk of his political war-chest every election, for decades as I’ve read over the years, of major fundraising events for Stevens. I can’t help but believe there must have been more backroom deals being conducted. Perhaps with Stevens being ousted, that might help. Simply don’t know.

    This was the oldest Seattle Times article I was able to pull up, like I said I just have to think there were deals being made that weren’t helpful to the AK fisheries.

    http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19960605&slug=2332854

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