Letters to the Editor

Posted: Friday, August 30, 2002

Catch-and-release fishing will protect kings, provide jobs

Now as the fishing season draws to a close it is time to reflect back. The first run of kings was the worst on record, and it is clear that the run is in trouble. The Board of Fisheries felt that the run was in trouble and tried to find a solution, i.e., catch and release.

Now the board feels that there was insufficient public comment before its decision. Therefore, the board is going to solicit comment and consider the question again. Where do you stand? Let the Board of Fisheries know!

Do you want to kill kings or support the economy? Do we close the river for several years? Go to catch and release? Do what we have been doing -- open the river and then go to catch and release or close it on a year-to-year basis and leave the potential visitor and everyone else in a quandary?

I was there in February and was in favor of catch and release for the entire first run of kings with bait, and I still am. There were about 350 kings taken before the river was closed. That is roughly the same mortality if there had been catch and release for the entire first run. In all probability this would have resulted in no closure of the river.

What did closing the river cost Soldotna? Talk to the business people, the banks, the stores, the service stations, the restaurants, the guides and the bed-and-breakfast owners. They saw cancellations and customers decline.

The question is do we want tourism as a part of our community. Do we want the jobs and the stores that make our life better or not?

Anyone who looks at our economy will find that the oil fields are not expanding, commercial fishing is bringing in less and less and government is now cutting back. The only growth in the near future will come from increased tourism. If you do not want more jobs just say so and do not complain when young folks leave.

Tourism depends upon folks coming to see how beautiful it is here and others coming for the salmon. The fishermen both from Anchorage and out of state need a dependable fishing experience. Catch and release on the first run of kings would take a while to catch on before fishermen accepted it, but it will protect the run and provide jobs.

The bottom line is that had the whole first run been catch and release a few fisherman would not have had king salmon on their table this year, but there would have been more food on a great many tables. The needs of the few have taken priority over the economic needs of the many. What we need is a better economy, not first run king salmon on a few plates.

The closure of the Kenai River made national news and it will be several years before we restore confidence in tourists who want to fish.

Bill Wirin

B&B owner


Primary changes discourage this eligible voter from casting vote

I am 18 years old, and I graduated from high school this year. When I was in school, I had a government class with Mr. Nate Keil, and I have to admit, he did get me involved in politics and wanting to have a say in Alaska's future.

I was very excited to cast my vote for the first time this election date, but that excitement was quickly dampened when I learned that Alaska was going against what America stands for: freedom and the right to pursue my happiness to choose whatever political representative I'd like.

Why am I not able to choose who I want to be governor or senator? I say it's taking away my right to vote by saying I either can vote for only Republican representatives, only Democratic representatives, only Green Party

representatives, etc., or no one at all!

I gladly chose not to vote, because it's absurd to say I can't support someone from one party and not another.

Where is the free choice in that?

Chantel Lillard


Subsistence issue really about all Alaskans' equal right to survive

Have you ever been so upset with a neighbor that you were willing to use almost any legal tactic to get them back? Believe it or not, other people have been there before you. Those other people were former Alaska legislators. These lawmakers saw the serious harm people are capable of doing to one another. If allowed, many people would cut off the air their neighbor breathes, just to seek revenge for a wrong.

Alaska saw this destructive possibility with regard to natural resources. The state viewed that not addressing this issue might tempt residents to cut off their neighbors' very survival, so it acted by creating a state natural resource trust.

Basic natural resources were placed within this trust, which the state considered necessary for the very survival of its residents. Constitutional legal wording was constructed to require that if anyone came up with a brilliant idea as to how to remove their neighbor from the trust, the change had to affect every resident in the state the same.

This has allowed Alaska to successfully avoid having residents attempt to threaten the very survival of their neighbors over a dispute.

Alaska's "common use" natural resource trust has provided peace in the natural resource valley since statehood.

Around 1970, some aboriginal Alaska residents began to feel like the U.S. government had ripped them off when it purchased Alaska from the Soviet Union. These residents felt that the Soviet Union had stolen Alaska from them so the United States had really just purchased $7 million worth of stolen property.

The U.S. Congress somehow agreed with these residents and agreed to pay them $2 billion to purchase Alaska from them also. This deal was called the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, ANCSA. Within ANCSA, Native residents requested racial priority treatment with regard to Alaska natural resources. The original racial priority wording was found illegal so it was changed to a rural priority because most Native residents were located in rural areas.

Unfortunately, those who created this racial resource priority failed to check out pre-existing Alaska natural resource trust law.

Alaska had placed wildlife, fisheries and waters into a state trust at statehood and the U.S. federal government agreed with this arrangement when it approved Alaska's Constitution. The U.S. federal government then clearly attempted to literally double talk both aboriginal and regular Alaska residents. The feds had agreed to common use for all Alaska residents within statehood documents while at the same time also agreeing to grant an exclusive use status to aboriginal residents.

There is no problem-free way to illegally sell the same horse to two different buyers. Eventually one or both buyers are going to be very upset because they did not get what was promised. This is what was done within Alaska's subsistence issue.

At statehood, the U.S. federal government literally sold regular Alaska residents "common use" of Alaska trust natural resources. In 1971, the feds decided to illegally repackage and resell these Alaska trust resources to aboriginal Alaska residents as an exclusive use with a "rural preference" title.

The reason for the double dealing was clear. Oil was discovered in the 1950s and suddenly Alaska statehood was placed on the fast track and law on July 7, 1958.

The same was done 1971 as North Slope discoveries and the pipeline began to take shape, and ANCSA got the fast track on Dec. 18, 1971. In both cases big money was up for grabs, and both the state and the federal government wanted to quickly stake their claims.

In its half-cocked attempt to close the $2 billion ANCSA deal, the federal government failed to observe that at statehood it had agreed to common use of Alaska's trust natural resources, so it again used them to close the ANCSA deal.

Some people believe that residents should be allowed to threaten their neighbors' very survival by taking away their neighbors' right to access public natural resources. These same people are not thinking logically because the same procedure which allows them to take away their neighbors' right to survival today will eventually be used to take away their right to survival tomorrow.

Some of these same people believe that they should vote on taking away their neighbors' right to survive or "subsist" off the land. It is not reasonable or legal to vote on allowing your neighbor the right to survive. It also is not very nice to do something to another which you would never want done to yourself.

Fran Ulmer believes that Alaska residents should attempt to vote on if their neighbors should be allowed to survive or use public trust resources. Fran Ulmer does not understand that the federal government is illegally double dealing Alaska with regard to the state's public trust natural resources.

You now know what is really going on with regard to Alaska subsistence issues. Do you think Alaska can afford to place anyone in political office who believes "neighbor against neighbor" is a good way to run Alaska? Fran Ulmer wants to vote on your literal ability to stay alive in a survival situation. Alaska does not need political persons making political hay out of your life.

Please do not vote for any person who wants to vote on a "neighbor against neighbor" rural subsistence priority.

Don Johnson


All Alaskans should unite to protect rare white bear

Please do whatever can be done to save that beautiful, rare white bear. It is truly a special bear, and I would hope that you would ensure its safety for the duration of its life. It seems somewhat sacred and should be adopted and protected by the entire state of Alaska.

While I am opposed to the outright murder of bears and any other wildlife that is hunted by man for sport, I understand that many Alaskans (and people from across the country) continue this practice. Please ensure the long life of this rare bear through legislation and education. Hopefully, we will one day see blessings of its offspring.

Thank you for listening to an Alaska lover who lives in Colorado.

Kimberly Bowman

Superior, Colo.

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