Sunday, May 31, 2009

Civil Disobedience Headed to the Yukon?

One of the most despised people currently working for Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, is Alaska Department of Fish & Game Commissioner, Denby Lloyd. In early April, Lloyd, as chair of the meetings in Anchorage to determine new bycatch levels of Bering Sea Chinook salmon to be destroyed by the foreign-owned, Seattle-based trawler fleet, Lloyd actually proposed a bycatch level far in excess of the criminally excessive level eventually settled upon.

Lloyd was in the lower Yukon this past week, holding brief meetings with Native leaders and concerned citizens. Perhaps he and Palin's new rural advisor, John Moller felt their answers to the increasingly impoverished and desperate residents there were satisfactory, but - realistically speaking - they were not.

Saturday, the Anchorage Daily News' new rural writer, Kyle Hopkins, wrote a long article about the ADF&G commercial closures on the river, and the probable closures or limitations of most subsistence Chinook activities along the lower Yukon in June:

The state Department of Fish and Game plans to close commercial fishing on the river and bar subsistence fishing for the first pulse of Canada-bound chinook. When subsistence fishermen do get a crack at the kings, they'll have 50 percent less time to do it.

Hopkins, who has little experience in the past writing about fisheries issues (he is as close that the ADN has come so far to replacing experience but exceedingly out-of-state, foreign-owned interest and corporate-friendly, Wesley Loy), tried to write one of those measured, yet informed pieces, that attempts to tell "both sides of the story." He failed to get a good quote from John Moller, for instance, instead reiterating this point, which has been already made elsewhere:

Moller told Naneng the state couldn't legally declare a formal disaster on the Lower Yukon last year, partly because of changes the Legislature made to the law in 1999 and 2000. He said the state has done other things to help people in the region, including extending the moose-hunting season, signing people up for assistance programs and holding a job fair.

Hopkins did give the best overall update available on what is happening on this complex set of issues, though, and it is a reasonably good, informative article.

Hopkins did miss a very important point, though, that had been published hours before he finished his article, which failed to mention the serious possibility of open civil disobedience as soon as the fish show up in volume. The Tundra Drums printed the following, earlier Friday:

When the first pulse of kings come in I'm going to fish for the folks and myself just as all the families here plan to.

We had a long hard expensive winter, the extreme high cost of living bled us of our cash resources and we plan to stock up on our traditional and customary food source no matter what.

Please prepare to hear from us as we get ticketed in our attempts to feed ourselves as our ancestors did.

Right now, many families ran out of salmon (both dried and frozen) because we had no choice but to fall back on all subsistence foods all last winter as food and fuel prices climbed.

I am not afraid, I may get fined and perhaps jail.

This stance is to hammer the message that big business cannot win us over and destroy our way of life and living.

-- Nick P. Andrew Jr., Marshall
Executive Director
Ohogamiut Village Council

In the Tundra Drums' preface to Mr. Andrews' article, the editor noted the following:

Editor's note: In an effort to boost the numbers of king salmon returning to the Yukon River, state and federal managers have come up with a plan that drastically restricts fishing this summer.

This will affect villagers who are already reeling from a rough winter, when many said they were forced to choose between buying costly heating fuel and putting food on their table.

The state plans no commercial opener in the struggling fishery, a situation that will remove one of the few money-earning opportunities many villagers have.

Subsistence fishing will also be halved from the year before, with fishermen allowed to fish two 18-hour openers a week. Also, subsistence fishing won't be allowed during the first pulse of salmon, when about 25 percent of the run traditionally arrives.

Fishery managers say not enough salmon have reached their spawning grounds in recent years and they worry that the run could collapse.

But village fishermen feel like they're being asked to bear the brunt of the pain.

Meanwhile, the mighty Bering Sea pollock fishing industry will still be allowed to accidentally catch tens of thousands of salmon a year on the high seas, without consequence.

In 2007, the industry caught 120,000 king salmon, more than double what subsistence fishermen on the Yukon usually take.

Such a tone in an editorial comment to a letter about civil disobedience is interesting, to say the least.

Rural advisor John Moller has agreed to providing Progressive Alaska with what may end up being the most detailed interview he will have yet provided, since taking on his difficult job in the midst of a cascade of crises. I'm looking forward to helping him finish it.

The pictures accompanying this article, of lower Yukon fishermen from an earlier season, might not be possible this June. These brave men and women will have to sneak out in the dark, or in inclement weather, breaking the law, so that they can maintain their 7,000 year-old lifestyle, in the face of a ravaging of it by state-sanctioned piracy, by a fleet that didn't exist 35 years ago.

images by Oysters4me


Anonymous said...

The needs of your natives should come before the desires of out-of-state or foreign fishing endeavors. Since this is a no-brainer, you would think the dipstick with lipstick that you call governor would get it.

Philip Munger said...


She thinks she does. She wants people to leave those communities so that there is less opposition to hyper development projects, like Pebble mine. She wants to discredit both existing and emerging Native leadership, and is attempting to co-opt young, well-informed, freethinking Native leaders with a new cadre of born-again, evangelically trained ones.

more coming on that...

Blue_in_AK said...

I'm a big fan of civil disobedience.

mlaiuppa said...

If Alaskan government was so concerned about the salmon, why are they allowing Pebble mine?

In my opinion...subsistence first. If the salmon won't support both subsistence and commercial, then I guess commercial doesn't get any.

I'm a huge proponent of civil disobedience. The more the merrier (and likely to make the news). Sometimes it's the only way to get enough attention to a problem that needs fixing.

I'd say the first fix is to get rid of Denby Lloyd. If you have to get rid of Sarah to do that, then by all means do.

AKPetMom said...

FISH, FISH EVERYONE! It's big country down there and certainly not enough fish cops to ticket you all. Get your food, put it up. Screw gov't and screw regulations. Feed your families.

You've all worked it out in the past, prior to the commercial interests overharvesting in the Bering. You know how to harvest responsibly all up and down the river. Lower river folks always left enough for the upper river communities, unlike the pollock interests that just rape the seas and leave little resource to even come home into the river.

Do what you need to do to feed your family and let the tickets pile up and DON'T PAY THEM!

I hope to hear tears from our fair Gov and her husband unit when they attempt to harvest with their permit and find there is nothing there to catch. Guess no more salmon for Matt Lauer or any of the other MSM types that come to the Palin home for interviews. Yep, that's the worst that would happen to her or her family; no salmon to feed to reporters, rather than her brood face starvation over the winter.

crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

You are so right on that!

AKpetmom: Yeah! Fish for all!

AKPetMom said...

Caligirl, I always have wanted to say on one forum or another that I'd love to meet you and talk to you, person to person. (sorry off topic, Phil)

crystalwolf aka caligrl said...

AKPetMom: Thanks :)
You have a blog on I ♥ mudflats?
I will go there and say Hi!

Anonymous said...

What I would like to see is that the village councils remember they OWN those CDQ companies and CAN TELL the pollock companies to STOP cold.
Many of the major pollock companies are 50% or more owned by the CDQ and thus by the village councils and villagers. This is not realized by many.
That one group of village councils are allowing another set of villages to lose their way of life and livlihood to line their own pockets is sad.
So few seem to understand and if they do, they are more worried about their own pockets being lined.
Someone needs to smarten up. The state is just one part of this - look at the CDQ for the other part.
The US pollock industry has only been around for 17 years!!
I wish the councils would figure this out and show where the REAL POWER is, with their villagers and themselves!!

Anonymous said...

Tony Knowles was right about one thing when he said

'The most important salmon is one on Alaskans dinner plate"

Sarah has gotten some bad advice about Fish issues

Anonymous said...

I saw a lot of lower Yukon native people at the NPFMC meeting in April in Anchorage who wanted and testified for the higher quota that Denby Lloyd argued for.

Jobs vs. Food. That how the lower Yukon natives phrased it, and everyone with a job wanted to keep their job in the lucrative pollock industry and that meant to them keeping a higher bycatch limit of chinook salmon.

I am pointing this out because there seems to be a lack of awareness that CDQ groups fighting for the higher bycatch limit are lower Yukon natives.

And not to throw in another grenade, but the lower Yukon natives in-river commercial users also show up at the Federal Subsistence Board meetings and the Alaska Board of Fisheries meetings to argue for no restrictions on mesh size for their nets - which has had the effect of decreasing the size and number of returning chinook on the Yukon.

So while it is nice to be able to play the victim role, take a look in the mirror as to what the upper Yukon native communities have been saying about mesh size and its effects on the age, size and length structure of Yukon chinook.

Julie said...

Civil Disobedience Headed to the Yukon?

Free HD DVR Receiver Upgrade