Reader: There are better ways to resolve differences

Posted: Thursday, January 12, 2006

The opinion piece, “Council did well in IFQ vote,” which appeared in the Peninsula Clarion Jan. 2 is another example of how not to resolve resource allocation issues, more of the kind of rhetoric that has, for years now, divided our community over fish. Half-truths, name-calling, and finger-pointing have no place in civil discourse.

When considering the distribution of Alaska’s harvestable halibut resource, there are three “publics” who want the fish: 1) sport fishers, Alaska residents and nonresidents, who own their own boats; 2) sport fishers, Alaska residents and nonresidents, who hire charter boats; and 3) the American public at large who buy their halibut in stores and restaurants across the nation. Joe Fisherman living on the Kenai Peninsula, John Doe visiting from Pennsylvania, Mary Smith living in Des Moines, and Alice Jones living in Tucson all want to eat halibut.

Sport fishers, Alaskan residents or nonresidents, the Joe Fishermen who use their own boats to harvest halibut — group number one — are not affected in the least by IFQs or the lack of them, whether IFQs are applied to commercial long-liners or commercial charter boats or both.

IFQs applied to commercial long-liners and/or commercial charters essentially affect the distribution — and who gets to make money off that distribution — of the harvestable halibut resource between groups number two and three. The question whether to apply IFQs to the commercial charter fleet as they’re presently applied to commercial long-liners is a question of how to distribute the harvestable halibut resource between groups two and three, keeping in mind the money that drives various self-interests.

It’s a straightforward question but the answers are hard because of competing economic interests. Nor are there bogeymen here, just ordinary people trying to implement what is best as they see it. In the meantime, the use of words like “predatory,” “Pacman” and “gobble up” applied only to commercial long-liners muck the question, accomplishing more social divisiveness. Abusing long-liners, guides, Joe Fisherman, natives, the Advisory Committee, Alaska Department of Fish and Game or whomever answers no questions, resolves no differences. Enough already. We’re neighbors, and there are constructive ways to resolve our differences.

John Nelson


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