by Robert K. Rice
April 03, 2004
Two years ago, in response to an advertisement by Fish and Game for a test fishery charter boat for West Behm Canal, I wrote a letter that was published in the Daily News. Basically I gave anecdotal (which means it didn't happen because the event was not witnessed by an "official conducting an official study") testimony as to what I had personally witnessed in 25 years of commercial fishing and working in the fishing industry. I was concerned that this was the beginning of the destruction of the West Behm Canal herring stocks. After the publication of the letter I received an angry phone call from a friend who holds a Sitka Herring Permit and some other permits. He stated I didn't have a clue and essentially everything is just fine with our herring stocks.
I called Phil Doherty at Fish and Game and he assured me this was just a cost recovery program and F & G was raising money to help pay their cost for monitoring the herring stocks. "Fish and Game had no intention of opening West Behm Canal to commercial herring fishing". The deception of these people who are supposed to be protecting our fishery resources for everyone is unbelievably blatant. Appeals have been made all the way to the governor to no avail.
There seem to be a relatively small number of people opposing this West Behm Canal Herring destruction derby. All you charter boat owners and deckhands, resort owners and workers, and the thousands of locals who enjoy the recreation and financial benefits of the sports and personal use fisheries of this area will soon have lots of stories about the good old days. The reason that the Clover Pass Guard Island area is the second most productive sports fishing area in the state of Alaska is because there is FOOD there. If this herring stock is decimated the way the others have been, as documented by the Herring Coalition, you will have to go to Cape Chacon to find fish.
Write letters, call the governor call your representatives. It may be too late for this year, but this fishery will not stop until we stop it, or the West Behm Canal herring stocks are destroyed.
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