I am amazed that the issue of crab processor shares continues to be seriously considered. Processor shares will force fishermen to sell most, if not all, of their crab to a limited group of processors which are guaranteed the exclusive right to process that crab.
This issue has been ongoing in Alaska and in Washington, D.C., for about three years. Tony Knowles decided it was a good idea, by listening to the powerful lobby of the processing industry. These are the same processors on trial in Anchorage right now for price fixing, a violation of the antitrust laws.
In order to give the processors this exclusive right to purchase crab, without competition, Congress must first grant an exemption from the antitrust laws. I can't believe that Sen. Stevens is seriously considering taking this action. This would be devastating to the crab fishery and would lead to the processors demanding their "rights" in Alaska's other commercial fisheries. It won't end with crab.
A study completed this year on the Bristol Bay salmon crisis suggested that processing shares for salmon was a potential solution, and processing shares are built into most of the options for quota shares in the Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries.
I've been fishing and living in Alaska for nearly 40 years. I own a catcher-processor and a catcher vessel that fish crab in the Aleutian Islands. Under this plan, I can't even process my own crab from my catcher vessel. I can hardly believe that Americans are thinking this is a good plan. It isn't.
If you agree with me, please contact Gov. Murkowski and Sen. Stevens and let them know you are opposed to processing shares in Alaska's fisheries.
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