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Thread: Fact Check Thread

  1. #1

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    I listened to portions of a radio broadcast today of the Kenai Chamber of Commerce Luncheon fisheries panel discussion. The luncheon was attended by Lisa Murkowski.

    During the Q&A portion that I got a chance to listen to, the representative from one fisheries special interest group (KRSA) stated a few facts that I had a hard time believing. Since Mrs. Murkowski's husband sits on the board of this organization, and is by definition this representative's employer, I'm sure the representative was careful to use only facts. Nevertheless, I would like to know where he got them.

    He said (to the best of my memory):

    UCI fishing industries are a 1 billion dollar industry. Of that:

    200 Million is from commercial fishing.
    800 Million is from sport/guided fishing.

    He also said that:
    2/3 of Peninsula families get their fish from the P.U. fishery.
    1/3 of Peninsula families get their fish from the sport fishery.

    There were a bunch of other numbers thrown out there, but I was driving and I can't find a recording of the discussion. I'm not calling anyone a liar, but I just was hoping to get a little clarity. Anyone have some FACTUAL input?

  2. #2

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    According to an article in the Peninsula Clarion about this panel discussion, since 2007, 111 guides have closed their doors. Is this true? It doesn't seem like it on the river but if it is, so much for the perception of the runaway train of more and more guides taking more and more.

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    I don't have the guide numbers in front of me but I know for sure they have dropped a lot the past few years. I know a lot of long time guides that have gotten out and taken slope or other jobs.

    Quote Originally Posted by penguin View Post
    According to an article in the Peninsula Clarion about this panel discussion, since 2007, 111 guides have closed their doors. Is this true? It doesn't seem like it on the river but if it is, so much for the perception of the runaway train of more and more guides taking more and more.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by penguin View Post
    According to an article in the Peninsula Clarion about this panel discussion, since 2007, 111 guides have closed their doors. Is this true? It doesn't seem like it on the river but if it is, so much for the perception of the runaway train of more and more guides taking more and more.
    Yes, I believe that's correct, although to me it just reinforces that perception. If several years of low abundance or poor economy causes that significant of a drop in guide numbers, what's that say about the sustainability of that industry?

    Additionally, I find it absurd that this point is continuously used (as it was yesterday) to counter the fact that there is no limit on the amount of commercial activity on our rivers. Yes, guide numbers have dipped from their ALL TIME HIGH of several years ago. This does not mean that they will not climb again due to increased economic activity, increased king abundance, or expanded markets such as the guided sockeye fishery that has exploded.

    We KNOW that abundance is cyclical, and this will not change. I see this dip in guide numbers not as proof that the problem is solved, but as proof that we need healthy limits on this and all fisheries - not only for the health of the habitat and the resource, but for the health and stability of the fisheries and industries that depend on them.

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    Not sure if this is the whole picture. Each year a number of guides drop out due to personal issues. There are also new guides coming into the fishery. So the question is not that 111 have dropped out but what is the net change from 2007?

    Relative to the 800 million vs. 200 million Gunnar Knapp of the University of Alaska pretty well shot down that comparison in a speech to the Legislature. I think if you google his name you may find the link that will play his speech. He also shot this down at a Legislative task force hearing in the valley.

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    I think there is support for a limit on guide numbers from many guides, at least there smaller operators, limits were tried years ago but the department of law said it was against the state constitution. Too bad guides can't have a permit given to them that they can then sell later on like the commercial fishermen. If it were legal that would be the way to get more guides supporting it.

    The sustainability of the industry is similar to commercial fishing, fish = industry doesn't matter guiding or commercial.

    The perceived "explosion" in sockeye guiding is a direct result of not being able to fish kings, when the kings come back you won't see the guides fishing sockeyes, the vast majority of guides hate sockeye fishing and would be fishing kings if they are open.

    Smithb touched on a topic on a different thread that I wish got more attention, what about all the kings that are being caught in the Kodiak fisheries???? I would venture a guess that many of those are Cook Inlet kings. While the cook inlet sportfishermen and commercial fishermen fight back and forth the Kodiak fishers are laughing at us, we are indeed fighting over the scraps.

    Nerka, you posted while I was typing, I have the guide numbers for the past few years, but they are at home, indeed numbers are dropping in real numbers.

    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    Yes, I believe that's correct, although to me it just reinforces that perception. If several years of low abundance or poor economy causes that significant of a drop in guide numbers, what's that say about the sustainability of that industry?

    Additionally, I find it absurd that this point is continuously used (as it was yesterday) to counter the fact that there is no limit on the amount of commercial activity on our rivers. Yes, guide numbers have dipped from their ALL TIME HIGH of several years ago. This does not mean that they will not climb again due to increased economic activity, increased king abundance, or expanded markets such as the guided sockeye fishery that has exploded.

    We KNOW that abundance is cyclical, and this will not change. I see this dip in guide numbers not as proof that the problem is solved, but as proof that we need healthy limits on this and all fisheries - not only for the health of the habitat and the resource, but for the health and stability of the fisheries and industries that depend on them.

  7. #7

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    I found some info. This is a page from Knapp's Salmon Task Force Presentation, which compared the two economic studies.

    Doesn't look like an honest comparison to me. All sportfishing related retail expenditures from Wasilla to Homer and all points in between, which would no doubt include nearly all money spent in preparation for sportfishing trips all throughout the state (probably including food, toilet paper and deodorant used while in Anchorage waiting to fly to Dillingham or somewhere else remote - and likely including all of the money spent by lodges across the state, most of whom buy supplies in bulk and ship out to the bush).

    Then compared to the dockside or WHOLESALE value of Cook Inlet Commercial Landings. No multiplier. No retail price. Seeing as retail price of salmon is probably 3-5 times that of the wholesale price, I call BS on Mr. KRSA representative.

    "Yes Mr. Bigglesworth, ONE-HUNDRED-B-I-I-I-LION-DOLLARS!!!"

    What a bunch of dirty dogs. If I was a political figure I'd take an interest in distancing myself from these kind of perversions post-haste.

    Personally, I don't care which fishery brings in more money - they're all important in my book. But I can't stand liars.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails ImageUploadedByTapatalk HD1390513084.288546.jpg  

  8. #8

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    Not to get this way off topic but if there could be a cap on guides this would be the time to do it. Less guides less impact on business. The cap seems to be front and center when there are 450 plus guides working the water. When it's talked about during those times you have way more guides digging their heals in screaming that it's not fair (or legal). Time for an amendment during low guide numbers. What do you think Yukon?

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post

    Personally, I don't care which fishery brings in more money - they're all important in my book. But I can't stand liars.
    rep points coming your way. Oops, guess I have to spread some love around before I can do that.

    Anyway, well said.

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    Gotta make it legal first, that isn't me "screaming", just the truth coming from the state legal opinion. There have never been 450 guides. It would be a long process to limit guides, not as easy as everyone thinks. One would also have to look at the unintended consequences, is the goal to reduce the guide numbers or reduce crowding?

    Quote Originally Posted by penguin View Post
    Not to get this way off topic but if there could be a cap on guides this would be the time to do it. Less guides less impact on business. The cap seems to be front and center when there are 450 plus guides working the water. When it's talked about during those times you have way more guides digging their heals in screaming that it's not fair (or legal). Time for an amendment during low guide numbers. What do you think Yukon?

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    Quote Originally Posted by penguin View Post
    Not to get this way off topic but if there could be a cap on guides this would be the time to do it. Less guides less impact on business. The cap seems to be front and center when there are 450 plus guides working the water. When it's talked about during those times you have way more guides digging their heals in screaming that it's not fair (or legal). Time for an amendment during low guide numbers. What do you think Yukon?
    i would agree that a cap on guide numbers is needed and appropriate but most ways of doing that I would be opposed to. For instance, under no circumstances do I think it is a legitimate plan to "allocate" guiding rights on the Kenai to certain folks and then allow them to buy or sell those rights. This is essentially what has happened in the commercial halibut IFQ system. My problem is that I don't think any citizen should ever be allowed to "own" a portion of a public resource. Those fish belong to all citizens and in my opinion nobody has authority to grant or sell permanent ownership rights of a unlicensed resource to a private person. Instead, guides on the Kenai or halibut long liners or any other segment that needs to be limited should either be limited by a random draw process (and the permit is only good for one year cause the drawing would be annual), or the government cold sell the guide rights or the halibut quota to the highest bidder during an outcry auction. Oh yeah, and the auction would be held every year too. Nobody owns our fish!

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by safari View Post
    i would agree that a cap on guide numbers is needed and appropriate but most ways of doing that I would be opposed to. For instance, under no circumstances do I think it is a legitimate plan to "allocate" guiding rights on the Kenai to certain folks and then allow them to buy or sell those rights. This is essentially what has happened in the commercial halibut IFQ system. My problem is that I don't think any citizen should ever be allowed to "own" a portion of a public resource. Those fish belong to all citizens and in my opinion nobody has authority to grant or sell permanent ownership rights of a unlicensed resource to a private person. Instead, guides on the Kenai or halibut long liners or any other segment that needs to be limited should either be limited by a random draw process (and the permit is only good for one year cause the drawing would be annual), or the government cold sell the guide rights or the halibut quota to the highest bidder during an outcry auction. Oh yeah, and the auction would be held every year too. Nobody owns our fish!
    This didn't just happen in the Halibut IFQ program, it happened in the commercial limited entry salmon fisheries as well. While it's true that our fish are a public (state) resource, they are to be managed to the best interest of the state. Also, a limited entry permit is not a permit that gives one ownership of our fish, but merely the chance to harvest that resource for profit, which contributes to the economy of the state and our local communities. As many UCI setnetters learned in 2011, this is not a permit to "own" a public resource, just a chance to harvest the abundance, and not a guaranteed chance at that.

    The startup costs associated with any of these fisheries, or a guiding operation, make your idea impractical. Many commercial fishermen and guides spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in startup costs in order to build the infrastructure to conduct business. What your system would foster, at least in the commercial fisheries, is that average Alaskans would not be willing to take that risk, and some corporate conglomerate would come in and buy up all the quotas/permits as they would be able to operate on a smaller margin - economies of scale - and would win the bids. We'd be right back into the pickle we were in before statehood when all the canneries owned the fish traps. Or, if that was not permitted, you'd have a bunch of half-butted ragtag operations with nothing to lose or nothing better to do that couldn't possibly efficiently harvest the abundance, and much of the harvestable surplus would go to waste. Again, not in Alaskan's best interest.

    It's in the best interest of the people of the state to have a limited entry program for both commercial fisheries and guides. Figure out what level of commercial activity the resource and the industry can support while still allowing REASONABLE public access, then permit accordingly. By nature these permits will remain overwhelmingly resident owned, and Alaskans benefit from the opportunity to build a STABLE life that is directly connected to mother earth. When they retire or move on, they have a viable business to sell to another person - a business that directly and efficiently contributes to our state and local economies - to the benefit of ALL Alaskans.

  13. #13

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    Just for clarification...There have never been 450 fishing guides on the Kenai. The highest number was in 2006 & 2007 at 396. In 2013 there were 284 fishing guides for a net loss since 2007 of 112. Sometimes people might see higher numbers published because if you include non-fishing guides then yes in 2006 there was a total of 437 including fishing & non-fishing. This is direct information from State Parks who issues all guide permits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    This didn't just happen in the Halibut IFQ program, it happened in the commercial limited entry salmon fisheries as well. While it's true that our fish are a public (state) resource, they are to be managed to the best interest of the state. Also, a limited entry permit is not a permit that gives one ownership of our fish, but merely the chance to harvest that resource for profit, which contributes to the economy of the state and our local communities. As many UCI setnetters learned in 2011, this is not a permit to "own" a public resource, just a chance to harvest the abundance, and not a guaranteed chance at that.

    The startup costs associated with any of these fisheries, or a guiding operation, make your idea impractical. Many commercial fishermen and guides spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in startup costs in order to build the infrastructure to conduct business. What your system would foster, at least in the commercial fisheries, is that average Alaskans would not be willing to take that risk, and some corporate conglomerate would come in and buy up all the quotas/permits as they would be able to operate on a smaller margin - economies of scale - and would win the bids. We'd be right back into the pickle we were in before statehood when all the canneries owned the fish traps. Or, if that was not permitted, you'd have a bunch of half-butted ragtag operations with nothing to lose or nothing better to do that couldn't possibly efficiently harvest the abundance, and much of the harvestable surplus would go to waste. Again, not in Alaskan's best interest.

    It's in the best interest of the people of the state to have a limited entry program for both commercial fisheries and guides. Figure out what level of commercial activity the resource and the industry can support while still allowing REASONABLE public access, then permit accordingly. By nature these permits will remain overwhelmingly resident owned, and Alaskans benefit from the opportunity to build a STABLE life that is directly connected to mother earth. When they retire or move on, they have a viable business to sell to another person - a business that directly and efficiently contributes to our state and local economies - to the benefit of ALL Alaskans.
    I appreciate your well reasoned argument but I disagree that my idea is not workable or that start up costs are too high. The BLM sells grazing leases on I think a 10 year basis. The USFS and the State of Alaska both conduct timber sales. The sale does not give rights in perpetuity to the buyer. The sale allows them to harvest a set amount of timber from a designated location within a certain timeframe. In the future when that plot is again ready for harvest, interested parties must bid again. The original purchaser does not automatically get the harvest rights. This is how the fisheries should operate. I do see your point that a one year auction may not be practical but I think a 3 or a 5 year auction plan is very doable.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by safari View Post
    I appreciate your well reasoned argument but I disagree that my idea is not workable or that start up costs are too high. The BLM sells grazing leases on I think a 10 year basis. The USFS and the State of Alaska both conduct timber sales. The sale does not give rights in perpetuity to the buyer. The sale allows them to harvest a set amount of timber from a designated location within a certain timeframe. In the future when that plot is again ready for harvest, interested parties must bid again. The original purchaser does not automatically get the harvest rights. This is how the fisheries should operate. I do see your point that a one year auction may not be practical but I think a 3 or a 5 year auction plan is very doable.
    And do the current grazing lease / timber sales setups encourage participation by small, independent resident mom and pop operations?

    If I buy the right to harvest 1,000,000 sockeye over the next 5 years, and the forecast is off by 50% and only 500,000 return, do I get a refund? If 2,000,000 return, do I get to harvest those, or do we sacrifice that yield? Commercial fishing is a risky business as it is. This degree of speculation/risk would be catastrophic for the industry.

    I don't understand what this would accomplish. I like the idea that individual Alaskans have equity in the opportunity to harvest our public resource. I like that it's a generational occupation for many Alaskans. I like that in many communities it's part of our culture, not something that's sold by the state to the highest bidder.

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    And do the current grazing lease / timber sales setups encourage participation by small, independent resident mom and pop operations?

    If I buy the right to harvest 1,000,000 sockeye over the next 5 years, and the forecast is off by 50% and only 500,000 return, do I get a refund? If 2,000,000 return, do I get to harvest those, or do we sacrifice that yield? Commercial fishing is a risky business as it is. This degree of speculation/risk would be catastrophic for the industry.

    I don't understand what this would accomplish. I like the idea that individual Alaskans have equity in the opportunity to harvest our public resource. I like that it's a generational occupation for many Alaskans. I like that in many communities it's part of our culture, not something that's sold by the state to the highest bidder.
    But tbsmith, the permits are sold to the highest bidder by the permit holder. Money just goes to the individual instead of the State. When a permit is sold the permit holder has given up the cultural aspects of the fishery for money.

    It was a mistake to allow permits and leases to be sold on the common market in my opinion. It allowed speculation in the permit market, it created instant wealth for some who did not earn it, and it created a potential private property right for a variety of purposes. I know the courts have ruled at the State level the permits are not property but not sure at the federal level.

    I believe permits could be issued to commercial fisherman under limited entry but the permit cannot be sold. It can be transferred to immediate family members and when the family stops fishing the permit reverts back to the State and is reissued on a lottery basis. Of course this will not happen today because of the long history and complex business deals. Just saying the commercial fishing lobby did a good job of getting instant wealth for no work when limited entry was passed.

    Relative to guides in the river DNR issues concession permits (camp ground services, tour companies) for some period of time and all the points you raise apply to those permits. Guides are not any different. A sufficient permit length to make an investment and recoup costs and then when permits are available reissue them in a lottery. Same rules as for commercial fisherman but selling for profit is not acceptable to me personally. The resource is owned by the public and therefore giving individuals exclusive use of that resource and allowing permits to be sold for profit makes no sense to me.

    Your kids can fish and their kids can fish under this plan but when they stop it is over for them. Wealth should be earned not given by a permit from the State.

  17. #17

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    Nerka, what you are suggesting is very different than what Safari is suggesting. I see the point that you guys don't think individuals should hold equity in the resource, like fishermen, miners, and homesteaders do (mineral rights). Changing things would screw a lot of hard working Alaskans who have built a life based on the laws as they are now.

  18. #18

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    Ok, I found some more info on the claim that 2/3 of Peninsula families get their fish from PU fishing, and 1/3 get their fish from sport fishing (which means that 100% of peninsula families eat fish!)

    I think this data was taken from the food security study conducted by UAF staff/students several summers ago.

    It stated that (page 21):

    "We find that fishing and the consumption of seafood are both extremely common in the Kenai Peninsula. Nearly 95% of respondents report at least some access to local seafood, and 80% of survey takers report that someone in their house- hold fishes, the majority of whom (66.5%) describe their primary fishing activities as for personal use and subsistence. Sport fishing is the next most common kind of fishing (42%), followed by a much smaller group of commercial fishers (7%) and guide/charter operators (2%). When asked to describe the role of salmon in their house- hold, 67% report that it is an important part of their diet, 24% respond that it is an important part of their financial security, and 55% report that salmon are important to their community and/or culture."

    https://accap.uaf.edu/sites/default/...d_May-2013.pdf

    Hmmmm. Technically, the numbers are right, however they were grossly misrepresented. What a shock.

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    Quote Originally Posted by smithtb View Post
    Nerka, what you are suggesting is very different than what Safari is suggesting. I see the point that you guys don't think individuals should hold equity in the resource, like fishermen, miners, and homesteaders do (mineral rights). Changing things would screw a lot of hard working Alaskans who have built a life based on the laws as they are now.
    Did not say to eliminate the present system but not to create a new one. I have watched family after family come into my office and cry over losing money investing in the commercial fisheries. One reason was that after the big year permit prices for a drift gill net permit went over 100,000 dollars and then dropped like a rock when reality set in. I had one person say they paid 200,000 and could not make the payments. So when you allow a permit price to float on the market one gets winners and losers and sometimes that has nothing to do with fish. Just opposed to creating the same mistake with guide limitations.

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