Article published on Thursday, March 1st, 2007
By STEPHEN TAUFEN
Letter to the editor
Crab rationalization’s harms on the coastal communities of Alaska were enormous. More than 1,000 deckhands lost seasonal paychecks and local businesses that depend upon a vibrant coastal fishery lost considerable revenues. Some even shuttered their doors, because corporate privatization of a public resource was the last special- interest serving straw.
Yet, the leading problem crab ratz was supposed to address was “lack of economic stability for harvesters, processors, and coastal communities.”
Next, IFQ owners extracted up to 70 percent in rents, seriously lowering the incomes of remaining crew. Kodiak was built on crab, by now you probably know the whole story.
For two years, to little avail, the crewmembers, affected businesses and municipalities gathered facts, gave public comments at regional fish council meetings, and pointed out the economic instability that resulted. They also outlined the negative effects on other aspects of fishing, from fleet consolidation to coercive monopoly pricing.
So, if you’ve been waiting for a forum where a difference might be made, it arrives during the week of March 26, at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Anchorage. On the agenda is an 18-month program review.
In February 2004, councilman Ed Rasmuson’s motion passed, directing staff to prepare this analysis to examine the effects of the 90 percent A-share (processor specific) and 10 percent B-share (open market) split; and to analyze the binding arbitration program (between catch vessels and processors) on the distribution of benefits between harvesters and processors in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands fisheries.
The council is to consider whether the 90/10 split and arbitration program are having their intended effects, and whether some other A/B split – 70/30, or even 50/50 – is appropriate. Why not 100 percent open, with measures to allow crab to come to Kodiak and create jobs?
Council action in April 2006 clarified the upcoming review also concerns application of the A/B share split and regionalization to captain and crew shares. Dollars that might flow back home once again. Please contact your local fishermen and come to Anchorage to make a difference.