Letters to the editor

Limited entry mentality works against Alaska’s interests

It seems like public and limited entry fisheries have never been able to see each others prospective. The public sees limited entry permit holders like greedy monsters sucking up all their fish. Permit holders see the public like a pesky sea gull ready to gobble up all their fish. Is it possible to actually understand either prospective?

What if you were a limited entry bee keeper instead of a limited entry permit holder? What if you made a million dollars annually because you’re the only person selling honey? What if Alaska realized 10 people selling honey and earning $100,000 each annually would benefit the state more than just one person making that million dollars? Those 10 new families would produce about 40 new residents. Those new residents would then have jobs and purchase services from their neighbors. Those additional jobs and services would then interlock and support/sustain multiple industries statewide. Additional sales would result at local gas stations, restaurants and local grocery stores. The state could make a very compelling argument for breaking up your personal million dollar honey business.

You might see the above beneficial economic logic but you would quickly lose sight of it when you discover yourself taking a $900,000 pay cut. Re-allocating fish from a limited entry fishery to a public fishery would obviously generate a tremendous amount of additional revenue for the state but could permit holders go along with those changes? No they would not. This conclusion reveals that permit holders naturally work to oppose the states best fisheries and economic interests. Why would any state allow a group to work against its own best interests?

The truth is that limited entry permit holders are so conflicted on fisheries issues that they should not serve on any of our fishery boards, commissions and advisory committees. Historically Alaska has searched out these permit holders, assuming their fisheries experience would help make good fisheries decisions. This limited entry mentality actually ends up compelling individuals to function against the states best interest within fisheries issues.

Alaska does not need to remove all financial interests from its fisheries regulatory process, it just needs to remove the limited entry mentality. Alaska can either remove it or fight fish wars forever.

Don Johnson


First Lady’s Volunteer Awards: Recognizing unsung heroes

I first met Bella Hammond when she came to Valdez in the 1970’s to present a First Lady Volunteer Award. That was at the inception of this volunteer recognition initiative Mrs. Hammond started that has carried on through the decades. Since then hundreds of Alaskans have been honored for their charitable contributions through volunteerism. Highlighting the commitment and character of these fine Alaskans shows our appreciation for their sacrifices and encourages others to help build up their communities through giving of their time and talents.

I invite you to participate this year by nominating someone who demonstrates a dedication to volunteer service and who has had a significant impact on the lives of Alaskans. We are hoping once again to receive nominations from all throughout Alaska for all types of volunteer work. Last year’s recipients ranged in age from 12 to 80. They came from urban and rural areas. Their volunteer commitments included: raising thousands of dollars for cancer patients and research; building recreational programs and facilities; cultural preservation; using a therapy dog to bring joy and hope to many; village leadership and service; and, working to end homelessness, suicide and opioid addiction. A core value of helping others is the one consistent thing they had in common.

The volunteer work that Alaskans like these do, day in and day out, often goes unheralded. These are not the kind of people who wait for things to change, wish for conditions to be different, or get involved simply seeking recognition. So many Alaskans are change agents with the highest motivation – rolling up their sleeves because they are determined to improve the lives of people in the community.

In these challenging fiscal times, our volunteers will play an even greater role in helping those in need and in strengthening their communities. It is often said that volunteers don’t necessarily have the time, they have the heart, and it is a heart that cares deeply about community and fellow Alaskans.

Nominations will be accepted through March 6 at VolunteerAwards.Alaska.Gov. Thanks to our generous sponsors – Alaska Airlines, Bering Straits Native Corporation, ExxonMobil Alaska and Dateline Digital Printing – awardees will receive a trip to Juneau and will be honored at a luncheon and ceremony at the Governor’s House in Juneau in May.

Awardees are chosen by a committee of Alaskans. The committee members and I are excited to read about the good works of Alaskans who make our state so strong, so vibrant, and who keep volunteerism alive. Hosting the recipients in Juneau and honoring their contributions is a time honored tradition and an annual highlight which we all are looking forward to.

Donna Walker

First Lady of Alaska