by Russell Cockrum
January 24, 2005
I've been a commercial fisherman living in Ketchikan since 1976. I fish halibut, blackcod, and salmon. Last year we delivered two million pounds to four different processors around Southeast. Our five year average is over 1.5 million pounds.
I've seen more than a few changes in the fishing industry over the past few years but I do believe we are at the bottom of the curve.
After sitting in the shadows during this cold storage rage, I feel it's time for my two cents. To make this short, I am totally against the idea of a cold storage paid for by tax dollars. Do we not live in the United States? This is NOT a socialist country, or is it? Since when is it right for government to compete with existing private enterprise. When Wards Cove Cannery folded a group of affected fisherman went to government agencies for financial help to purchase and operate the cannery. Then, they were politely told that it was an inappropriate use of state or federal funds. In hind site I must agree, it's wrong for a private business to have to compete with a business paid for by tax dollars. If the local retailers or a fish processor needed the kind of capacity we're talking about, I say let them step up and put some dollars down, but leave my tax dollars out of it.
This community is so far behind the rest of Southeast it's embarrassing to say you're a full time fisherman that lives here. What I'm referring to is the lack of infrastructure that it takes to support a fishing fleet. How about something like a drive down ramp (like Sitka), or maybe a dock with a crane that you can use on any tide (Petersburg). There are not even enough permanent stalls for our larger fishing vessels and I can't even use my assigned stall because of a piling failure.
I do not believe a "community cold storage" will in anyway benefit my fishing endeavor and without a permanent tenant signed on with some real dollars invested it's a fundamentally bad idea, of course this is just my opinion.
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.