Herring and Fish Issues
By Carol Christoffel
January 21, 2009
I am writing in support of the other good people who are concerned
over the failing herring runs. I do not know the "politics"
involved but note the board to regulate this largely consists
of commericial fishermen, whose livelyhood depends upon consistant
runs of fish.
in most instances means no policing. All over the lower 48, the
rivers are poisoined and you have to limit what you eat from
them. Will this be the fate of Alaska?
Once the Great Lakes teemed with fish, now the canneries and
fisheries are gone. In virtually every instance commericial overfishing
by big corporations was a factor. In those times gone by, there
was no concept that the fish would ever run out. In fact it was
considered inconcievable and many anti-environmentalists still
insist that this is so and if one species dies, well, we will
simply fish another. But what if you fish out a critical lynch
The whales were almost fished out of existance by this attitude
which persisted into the mid 80's. If the whales are "reboundin"
and eating too much hearing it is news to me. I have read where
some more whales may be added to endangered species. Could climate
changes, pollution and over-harvesting reduce the fish that whales
feed upon, leading them to forage in odd places, hence the odd
sightings of whales where they should not be or out of season?
I am suspicouse of the whales eating too much theory as it sounds
a lot like the Eagles eating too much salmon theory that was
put out while salmon was over fished.
With rising sea levels(see your own columnist) predicted for
many years now by scientists, our coastline communities may have
to relocate and the patterns of the fish may change. Some are
predicting famine, beginning in the African continent, due to
climate changes, then spreading out. If climate change affects
the global communities with rising prices for food, and changes
in availability of food, as predicted, Alaskans may see a short-term
rise in fish prices which always encourages greed. In the long-term
carefull management of the fish may in fact, be the way many
Most people in the Dominant Society think short-term (historically
speaking) while most tribes think long-term. It is in the balance
of both of these needs (the need for livelyhood and the need
for sustainability)that the future will be determined.
It is time to consider the importance of Native Elders and to
quit dismissing them. In many places Aboriginal leaders have
been forced to fight against big corportations or the government
just for the right to continue existing and harvesting in a
Many of the Federal and State
regulatory bodies have a strong cultural bias and tend to override
the rights of the Aboriginal people.
An example of this is that years ago I happened to see a treaty
between a small tribe and the government of Canada, who was eager
to "discover and develope" resources, oil, mineral,
whatever. In exchange for a small bit of land and automony the
tribe had to give up vast amounts of land, the mineral rights
to anything in the clay, earth or sea for several miles out and
under thier former land.
The board of Elders were allowed
to be consulted in thier subsistance takes(that is they had a
right to negotiate when the government tells them they must take
less and less due to the government's commericial activities).
They must agree that no future generation should be allowed to
sue the government of Canada for any monies associated with the
resources in the mud, water, air et,cet. and several miles under
and below. Which really means if the government finds oil or
some valuable resource and tears up the environment to do so,
resulting in the decrease of subsistance food, the tribe can
never get damages. And if they are forced to re-locate due to
the same issues, oh, well! I noted that there was no cap on how
many people could be brought in to "develope" an area
and without such guidlines in writing, commercial enterprises
may develope the old boomtown mentality, and when it goes bust,
abandon it. Flooding a pristine area with heavy machinery and
"overnight" towns often has a deleterious effect on
wild life, the very wildlife that Aboriginal villages need to
exist. And on the moral side, with gadzillions of profits to
be made, would not the settlement be more equitible to have set
aside a share (perhaps 1% of the profits towards helping Aboriginal
villages should any loss of subsistance and relocation be nescessary?
or what about healthcare and education for future generations,
should healthcare issues arise from the commercial developer's
operations? That would be a more moral way, but it has not been
I am not pursueded that the Department of Interior or the Department
of Justice has been at all fair with Native Claims in the lower
48, with the Deptartment of Interior caught red-handed destroying
land claims for payments to Natives during a trial involving
the same.(Destruction of material evidence)
That being said I have no reason
to think that the State of Alaska is all that much different.
So Mr.Hoff has every reason to be suspicouse I would say.
But there is still time to
work together and get it right.
Clean Water and food to eat(especially
fish) may end up to be the "New Gold". Gaurd it well.
Think long-term sustainability as opposed to short-term profits.
And one more thing: Why are so many supermarkets carrying "Alaska
Salmon, caught in Alaska", but processed and frozen in China?
Should not those processing jobs STAY IN ALASKA? We don't need
to put Chinese to work. We need to put our own to work. Good
luck for those who fight for the fish!
About: "Former Ketchikan
resident, Holistic Nurse, interested in Environmental Medicine"
Received January 19, 2009 -
Published January 21, 2009
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