Kodiak fishing group seeks fishing halt until price set

Posted: Tuesday, June 11, 2002

KODIAK (AP) -- The United Salmon Association is asking every salmon fisherman on the island to refrain from fishing until a price agreement is reached with processors.

The association has been involved in price negotiations on behalf of Kodiak salmon fishermen since early May. As of Saturday, they were unable to negotiate a price with Kodiak processors that was acceptable to fishermen.

Their asking price is the same as last year: 65 cents a pound for sockeye salmon. Pink salmon brought 9 cents a pound last year.

In addition, association contracts included a market-driven scale that resulted in a 3 cent postseason adjustment on the sockeye price in early 2002.

A few fishermen have gone out fishing as a goodwill gesture.

''We've sent out a few guys to fish so we can get some fish to the seniors and for a barbecue on the spit,'' said Virginia Adams of the association negotiating team.

The association planned a community barbecue Monday to show concern for all affected by the strike. The menu will include sockeye salmon.

The guests of honor will be processor workers and their families, and tendermen and their families, who are affected when the salmon fleet does not fish.

Once contracts are signed, there is a 24-hour wait before the fleet can start fishing. Some seiners are already positioned to begin fishing immediately. The wait gives a setnetters and seiners a chance to get to the fishing grounds.

The association estimates that more than 90 percent of the fleet is not fishing, except for pockets of setnetters in Uyak Bay, Alitak Bay and Kuprionof Strait, said Tom Wischer, chairman of the association's Ketchikan chapter.

Wischer said negotiations have played out in various ways in past years.

''Typically, in the past when we have not come to terms prior to the start of the opening, we've been engaged with every plant,'' he said. ''This year we only received offers from two plants initially, and most of our discussions have been with one company. I don't know if the rest of them are waiting to see what that one does.''

Wischer said the union usually settles with one plant after negotiating with all of them.

''Normally, once somebody settles, the rest of the plants want to talk again. Somebody else will agree to what has become our new minimum offer, and once there is capacity for everybody to fish and give those companies product, the other ones fall in line,'' he said.

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