Letters to the Editor

Posted: Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Support for Alaska's commercial fish industry should begin at home

I just arrived home after fishing with my husband out in False Pass for Alaska red salmon. At least, that is what we were supposed to do. Instead, we spent 2 1/2 weeks on strike, only to settle on a very poor price of 50 cents per pound for red salmon. Then our July run was terrible and we spent more days tied up on the dock than having our nets in the water.

The Alaska commercial salmon fishing industry is dying at 50 cents per pound and paying fuel prices of $1.50 a gallon, food expenses, insurance and everything else it takes to keep us afloat.

It is time we pull together as a state and help our industry, because it doesn't seem that our state government is helping us in any way.

If the commercial salmon industry continues to go down this financial spiral staircase, it is going to affect our state as a whole. We need to begin here, in our home state if we are going to survive being eaten up by "foreign farmed salmon." That is what is killing us.

I was just in Costco in Anchorage on July 20 and inquired about the price they were getting for their salmon. You know what I found: I found "Atlantic Farmed Salmon" in their seafood department. I did not find one fresh Alaska wild salmon in that store, and it is the middle of July! There is something wrong with this picture.

Think about it, how much money do you spend at Costco-Anchorage, before a fishing season? This is the biggest slap-in-the-face that they can do to us. Is this how you pay back and reward your paying customers? No, you support them. That is what I am asking you, especially if you are a commercial fisherman: Write to your legislator, governor and to Jim Sinegal, (CEO of Costco) to help support Alaska wild salmon.

Our industry needs a domestic market if we are going to have any sort of competition with the "foreign farmed salmon." For goodness sakes, if we are going to have any sort of domestic market, than let's begin in our own state!

Thank you for your time; now, let's pull together and do something.

Mary Edminster

F/V Restless

Homer

It's nothing personal, but qualified Alaskans should be put to work first

In response to the editorial on Sunday:

The majority of the Alaskans that I know aren't conveying to outsiders that they are not to come to Alaska to work. But rather that before Alaska businesses or companies hire the nonresidents, they ought to hire the ready-to-work, qualified residents.

Of course we want everyone from all over the Lower 48 to have the opportunity to come visit and contribute to a beautiful Alaska, whether it be to work or to play. Alaska has a lot to offer everyone.

My opinion remains that we should be sure that the qualified Alaska residents get a chance at the job before we bring visitors up and send them to work in place of the ready and willing.

Heather Churchill

Kenai

Stevens brings home enough pork; hog project won't benefit peninsula

"Uncle Jake, welcome home."

"Ralph, my boy, It's good to be home. Anything exciting happen here while I was gone? Anyone catch a new record king salmon?"

"Nothing like that, but someone's trying to start a pork project."

"Doesn't Sen. Stevens bring back enough pork from D.C.? Why would we need more?"

"No, Unc, not that kind of pork. They want to raise hogs."

"Well, that's a good thing. Seems like the kings are getting smaller and smaller. It would be great to have some real hogs in the river."

"No, no, not hog salmon. Hogs like in swine, grown pigs."

"Haw, haw, haw. Get serious."

"But I am serious. They want to start a pork project and raise hogs here."

"Well, after all, what could it hurt for farmers to raise a few hogs? Kids in 4-H already do that. I've seen them in the Ninilchik fair. And that guy by Sterling is raising pot bellies."

"But, Uncle Jake, this would be a major operation. They want to raise 600,000 a year."

"Sonny, you never were very good at math. You must mean just 600."

"No, they're talking 600,000."

"Wow, that would take a lot of land."

"No it wouldn't, they would be raised in confined spaces."

"Of course they would be confined. Do you take me for a fool. I never thought they would be allowed to run wild. There would certainly be fences."

"Confined even more. Hogs would be crammed into buildings with little room to move around. During gestation each sow would be confined to a two-foot-by-six-foot space during the four-month gestation period."

"Is anyone for this?"

"The Kenai mayor wrote a letter endorsing planning for the project."

"That figures. What about the city council?"

"It was a 6-1 vote there."

"Good for them, but which member voted for it?"

"Sorry, Unc, you got it backwards. The vote was six in favor and one against."

"Just who is involved in this project?"

"Well there's this guy from Soldotna and ... it also involves a Dutch company."

"A Dutch company! Boy, you must have it all mixed up. The Dutch raise tulips. What do they know about raising hogs?"

"I don't know. I suppose they will hire some consultants."

"Do you suppose they have thought about the problem of shipping out 600,000 squealing hogs?"

"They plan to process them here first. They plan to build a huge processing plant."

"At least that will provide some local employment."

"Some maybe, but there's a problem with that too. Working conditions are so difficult and there are so many health problems in pork processing plants that in other states local people won't take a lot of the jobs so foreign laborers, usually Mexicans, Central Americans or Asians, are brought in to do the work. Compared to some of the pork processing jobs a cannery slime line is a cake walk."

"Won't there be a lot of ... uh, uh ... waste, you know exactly what I mean don't you, Ralphie, from the hog farms?"

"From 600,000 hogs there would be two billion pounds a year."

"Where will it all go?"

"I can't say for sure, but in other states part of it has polluted the ground and the streams."

"Streams! You mean like the Kenai River?"

"Or the Kasilof or Anchor or Ninilchik or Deep Creek. Depends on where the hog farms are."

"It seems to me that hogs don't smell so good either."

"Hogs don't smell bad. It's what you call, uh, waste that smells awful. But actually that smell is not as bad as the smell from the processing plants. That is really awful."

"Where will they get feed for all those hogs?"

"They plan to import that from Canada."

"And what will they do with all that pork? We can't eat all that."

"They plan to ship most of it to Asia."

"Now, Sonny, let me get this straight. You are telling me that they want to start a hog project here that will raise hogs under inhumane conditions, that will pollute the ground, water and air. They will be fed from grain imported from Canada and the pork will be shipped to Asia. And will provide a profit for the Dutch. That's so ridiculous it can't be true but you seem so serious. Nephew, you really had me believing it for a while."

"Believe me, Uncle Jake, it's true. I swear on the head of Les Anderson's king salmon."

"Wow, this is a problem. I've got to be in Juneau for a while and will do what I can there to stop the project. I'll let you know what happens there. If I have news how can I contact you?"

"Write me at P. O. Box 2648, Kenai 99611."

"Will it be OK if others who are interested contact you about the project?"

"Of course, I'd like to hear from anyone interested."

"Well nephew, that's it then. I gotta go. After Juneau I may go to Stockholm and see if the Swedes are interested in putting a nuclear waste dump in the peninsula. If the Dutch can pollute Alaska, why not the Swedes?"

Ralph Van Dusseldorp

Kenai

johnvan@att.net



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