Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Groundswell Fisheries Movement - Alaska's Best New Blog

Longtime fisheries reporter and friend, Stephen Taufen, has created a blog about fisheries issues and related matters, called Groundswell Fisheries Movement. Stephen, who often contributed at The Alaska Report when Dennis Zaki was the proprietor, is one of the most knowledgeable writers and investigative reporters on the host of issues connected to our most important sustainable industry.

Stephen describes his work:

A public watchdog and advocate for fishermen and their coastal communities. Taufen is an "insider" who blew the whistle on the international profit laundering between global affiliates of North Pacific seafood companies, who use illicit accounting to deny the USA the proper taxes on seafood trade. The same practices are used to lower ex-vessel prices to the fleets, and to bleed monies from our regional economy. Worked 20 years in the Alaska seafood industry for processors in cost accounting, fleet management, operations.

Groundswell Fisheries Movement joins Alaska Cafe, No Trawl Zone and Tholepin in PA's roster of Progressive Alaskan blogs.

One other fisheries blog, Wesley Loy's Deckboss, is listed under the category of Important Alaska Sites - Not Necessarily Progressive. Wes presents information from the establishment viewpoint, sometimes serving as a stenographer for the big offshore fishing companies and the governmental agencies backing their unsustainable paradigm. Also listed there is The Alaska Dispatch, which occasionally has decent fisheries articles, but more often some pretty shallow stuff.

As a case in point, see today's article at the Dispatch by Craig Medred, about Prince William Sound's Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation. Medred's piece is shallower than the Copper River's Pete Dahl Slough at low water in a minus tide, and siltier in its lack of meaningful focus or historical perspective. Compare that to any of the June articles posted at Taufen's site.

Good work, Stephen!


Anonymous said...


Alaska's fisheries are fortunate to have a watchdog like Taufen keeping tabs.

As usual, the regular media types barely scratch the surface and keep to driveby headlines only.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anony @ 12:55 and include Alaska Cafe, No Trawl Zone, and Tholepin as you do, Phil.
I am working on some fish questions where the regular media was content with even less than the drive-by headline... they just settled for disseminating free PR for interested parties.
Makes me appreciate those like Mr Taufen even more...

Anonymous said...

He's baaaack...
Stephen Taufen is an abrasive self-styled "fishing professional" that in no way represents the Alaska fishing community.

"Watchdog" for fishermen and their communities? How? What has he done? No, really...empirically, exactly what has he done for fishermen? What fishermen, where? What communities?

Mr. Taufen is a financial professional in the seafood processing industry. He's an accountant, not a back-deck guy. His purview is seafood products, not harvesting. Two different industries whose financial interests are diametrically opposed. Seafood processors buy raw material from harvesters to create retail products.
Processors are motivated to pay the lowest possible price for raw fish and sell retail product at the highest possible price. That's how they make money, nothing unreasonable or unfair there, that's how it works in any industry.
Harvesters (fishermen) are financially motivated to sell the catch at the highest possible price, because that's their product.
He's a Seattlite who worked books for Unisea for many years. His 'whistleblowing' is with the IRS and taxes, not fishing policy.
Mr. Taufen might have expertise, insight and perspective, but he's too busy with personal agenda and self-edification to be of any actual use.
He's mean-spirited and disrespectful to fishermen.

Anonymous said...

...and by the way, he's not a "fisheries reporter" by any charitable stretch of what that might mean. Never has been.

It insults Alaska fishermen to compare him to respected career journalists who've actually made a living actually reporting on actual fishing issues, like Laine Welch, Bob Tkacz, Wesley Loy and Bob King, etc.

Stephen Taufen said...

Correct, Groundswell is not mere reporting, it is journalism - where details and interconnections are presented to help grasp the story whole in a useful manner. Like in fighting the oligopsony and criminals. Every backdeck fisherman (I've been there a little) knows the price they receive is at the mercy of multinational price-makers, and whatever foreign parent firms are willing (forced) to leave in Alaska.

It's always funny to hear I have a personal agenda when there are no other "reporters" providing a free public service in exposing the illicit accounting practices of Abusive Transfer Pricing, of major positive impact to fishermen and communities and the USA. The roadkill reporters ususally stammer about wondering what has happened and suck up to "the industry" to keep their little rags wet with ink. And reprint corporation fed no-work-required news releases. Why don't you mention the good work of Margie Bauman who has reported for decades? (that alone tells us a lot about your anon agenda! as you hope some poor public reader buys your propaganda) And in what recent year was it Mr. Loy's fish reporting "career" started? Did you forget Jon VanAmerongen on purpose? (just how young or biased are you?)

You scoff at 'the accountant', but why? Groundswell's whistleblowers has been responsible for the shift of hundreds of millions of dollars of export value coming back into the USA where it's available for raising fish prices. It's not our fault when some fishermen sucking up to his processor's hiney fails to grasp the global economics (we educate you regularly, so try listening instead of complaining) and settles for a fraction of the rational price he should get.

Processor corporations may be motivated to pay little, but it is an entirely different story when their Certified Public Accomplices help them break a series of tax laws - tax evasion - just so they can pay you less. So, attack the messenger if you like (yawn, what an old game that is) but you'd be far better to get the message and act in your best business interests. (maybe it's because you are afraid to that you resort to anon slams instead)

Mean spirited and disrespectful? You must be talking about comments we make against the disrespectful and uniformed ad hominems of the criminal ilk of our fleet, because we do indeed not back down to bullies whose ties with their processors are as special "friends" of the company, so they can screw fellow fishermen.

At least I have the courage to post using my real name instead of being an anonymous coward. And by the way, your opinion of me is none of my damned business - so why do you keep thinking it so? What's your opinion of us trying to get back up to $2 billion per year stolen from Alaska fisheries by foreigners and outsiders who scalp off high rents in a resource curse situation, with a federal council that is under regulatory capture? For fishermen! Or can you not write on the important issues, because you cowardly stoop only to personal attacks?

But no matter how ignorant and fearful you get, we still keep on going after the billions stolen each year, because we do respect the communities and fishermen of Alaska (where I spent well over 22 seasons, and lived in 9 coastal communities). You can get your fair share of it, too. So, why do you have issues with someone who fights for truth and ethics-based business practices, and the right for you to a fair and equitable share?

Abrasive. Well, when you rub up against our sandpaper grains of truth, I guess that more potshot insults is again your default mode.

Move to Africa if you like to serve foreign resource plunderers so well.