Reports on the scene were of more state and Coast Guard skiffs than fishermen had ever witnessed in decades of work in the local commercial fishing industry. Some fishermen reported that state game wardens boarded boats repeatedly and forced them to dump oysters of legal size. Some speculate, based on the agents’ interest in personal documents, that they hoped to catch illegal workers and perhaps make a show of nabbing undocumented residents.
Meanwhile, in Alaska, a federal judge asked NMFS to review the environmental and socioeconomic effects of western Aleutians Atka mackerel and Pacific cod fishing closures as quickly as possible. NMFS’ response is that it will take 23 months to do a complete assessment and they could not perform a review before next June.
The fishing closures are an attempt to protect a small subset of the western substock of Steller sea lions, though there is no widely accepted theory as to the cause of the stock’s decline. However, each year of closures costs the fishing community $80 million in revenue.
I understand that local and federal governments are called upon to manage increasingly vast responsibilities. But I am tired of seeing fishing communities take the hit to make someone else feel better about their day or look better in the public eye. It’s time we took stock of what we value in this country. A press release versus a living wage based on actual work and a legitimate product. I think the choice is pretty easy.