(File photo)

(File photo)

Letter to the Editor: A bad deal for Alaska

The question is, do you care about Alaska’s fisheries resources?

Cycle of destruction

The ADF&G may logically understand that Alaska is not required to provide the entire planet fish and that weak fisheries resources cannot tolerant indiscriminate commercial gill netting, but logic is not the primary force that controls their decisions these days.

When an ADF&G fisheries manager makes a logical decision today that decision is then pounded by politics, politicians, environmentalist, user groups, lobbyists, and big money special interest groups who basically don’t care about fisheries logic.

Today an ADF&G area fisheries biologist who may open or close a fishery in Cook Inlet depends on the approval of the ADF&G regional coordinator, who depends on the approval of the ADF&G deputy director, who depends on the approval of the ADF&G director, who depends on the approval of the ADF&G commissioner, who depends on the approval of the Alaska governor. The governor depends on communicating popular politics to voters to get elected. Communicating politics depends on campaign financing. Campaign financing depends on special interests financing. Special interest financing depends on the governor’s political ability to promote the special interest. This all means that an ADF&G fisheries manager’s job is directly connected to the political and financial promotion of special interest groups.

Alaska attempts to deny that it promotes special interest groups but guess what group regularly tries to take advantage of this ADF&G political and financial connection? Alaska’s governor’s office regularly compels its ADF&G to increase commercial fisheries access so commercial fisheries can increase financial support to the governor’s office. The governor’s office then increases commercial fisheries access to increase financial support to the governor’s office. Basically increased commercial fisheries access is being traded to elect governors.

This destructive cycle continues electing governors and increasing commercial fisheries access until over-harvest results in fisheries collapse. That collapse then destroys the political power attached, with the politicians and commercial fishermen vanishing only to reappear somewhere else where they can anonymously begin the cycle again.

This cycle of fisheries destruction has played out many times within the last couple hundred years in the Lower 48 states. It happened within the U.S. East Coast commercial black cod fisheries between 1910-1980. The same resulted within the West Coast commercial salmon fisheries between 1950-1990. In each case government fisheries managers claimed they were regulating sustainable commercial fisheries until they over-harvested and collapsed the resources.

Each of these fisheries allowed politics and fisheries management to mix until they destroyed each other. Alaska is currently allowing this same type of destructive fisheries management. The question is, do you care about Alaska’s fisheries resources?

Alaska needs to disconnect fisheries management from politics and that means removing government from fisheries management. This could be accomplished by hiring a private company to manage Alaska’s fisheries that can be fired when our fisheries vanish. Why do nothing and allow Alaska’s fisheries to vanish, because that’s what is happening right now.

— Donald Johnson


A bad deal for Alaska

I’ve been joking with my friends that I am going to run for governor on the promise of a $10,000 PFD. I don’t mean it to be funny though. I want people to process the irresponsibility of that idea. And while they’re at it, think about the cynicism of someone who would appeal to that sort of irresponsibility.

In the last few years I’ve learned some new words, including “obsequious” and “sycophant.” (Go ahead and Google them if you’re not sure what they mean, I’ll wait). I would say a legislator that goes along with a very cynical and irresponsible idea for fear of being primaried or turned out in a general election is not much of a leader, but rather an “obsequious sycophant.” See, I can use them in a sentence!

I’m not sure who is to blame for the dire straits we are in here with our current budget disaster that is nearly 40 years in the making. Is it the cynical governor who ran on big dividends and easy answers to very hard problems? Is it the cheering section of a legislative branch that refuses to assert its power and lead? Is it the entitled and distracted voters that sent all of these “leaders” into office without really considering how big dividends and budget cuts would affect the state? Allow me to blaspheme here and suggest it’s the very PFD itself and an entitled selfishness that has infected far too many Alaskans. (Don’t worry, I’m not really running for office so I can indulge in such honesty!)

This governor and his sycophants in the Legislature aim to spend our wealth for their own political gain. A $3,000 dividend paid for by a half billion in cuts is a bad deal, Alaska.

— Henry Webb


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