Let me set this straight. I am an outsider and I do not live in Alaska. I never have and I seriously doubt I ever will. Yet I love fishing in this state, so much that as a visitor I was determined to find a way to return over and over without taking it through the nose.
I did. I became a book author and of my two only volumes, the first has gone to reprint and the second is just about sold out. That's about 6,500 books that have gone into the hands of those who might be interested in making the journey to the Last Frontier.
I'm small time. Certanily not a notable like a Gunnar Pederson or a Chris Battin, but not bad for a bit player. I represent the commuting visitor who buys into the Alaska sportfishing experience. They average over 300,000 out-of-state liscences per year. That's more than the resident sportfishing angler. They average over 180,000 in-state liscences per year.
Both of these groups then number easily over 450,000 liscences per year.
It's certainly not the same for commercial liscence fishing counts. Residents number less than 10,000 and non-residents number a little over 8,000.
SOURCE: ADF&G 2006 Statistics
That's a hell of a ratio. Less than 20,000 commercial persons as compared to 450,000 individual persons.
Yet, look at the politics these commercial guys have. Try the At-Sea Processors Association, or the Petersburg Vessel Owners Association, or the Untied Fishermen of Alaska, or then on to the National Fisheries Institute. These organizations all have officers, charters, dues, and lobbists. Lobbists influence regulations. You don't have to be student of government to know that. Money talks, always. The arms of those organizations reach out far in political influence that affects fishing regulations.
Now, take a look at the organizations of the indvidual sportfishermen of Alaska. Though they by far outnumber commercial liscensure, the only organiztion I found outside of local clubs was the Kenai River Sportfishing Association and that was it. That's hardly a reach.
So, what's my point?
It's easy. The commericial guys are organized and the individuals are not. It's a comparrison as easy as night and day. One sees how to turn on the light and the other is still in the dark. I find that sad, and now with new regulations, alarming.
Expressing opinions on a community forum is good, but it's just a rant that's wasted in cyberspace. I read everything you say. I am very impressed in your statements and your evaluations. It's your state and your views continue to inspire me.
And so, here I am. I've put my neck out. I'm asking you to consider organizing yourselves to become a political entity. You can if you willing to make that committment. How powerful you could become. You outnumber the commercial side by the hundreds of thousands. What an influence you might have!
I already told you. I'm the outsider. This is up to you. All I can say is that if you do make it in organization, and want someone to represent the commuting angler, you can count on me for assistance, both organizational and fiscal.
I hope you don't resent my suggestions. I'm really in it for all of you...
Bernard R. Rosenberg