by Lloyd Gossman
April 29, 2004
We have just avoided a catastrophe within our fisheries by the recent cancellation of the West Behm Herring fishery. There is no doubt, without the input by many locals voicing their concern, this fishery would have taken place.
As of this date, one of our greatest concerns is the continual misrepresentations being given by Deputy Commissioner David Bedford. His latest assertion in the April 20, 2004 edition of the Ketchikan Daily News needs to be addressed. He stated that "The West Behm Canal Management Plan mirrors that for Sitka Sound, where the biomass has grown from about 7200 tons in the late 70s to 54,000 tons this year." This statement alone gives cause to call for Deputy Commissioner David Bedford's immediate termination.
The ADF&G stated in the 2003 report to the Board of Fisheries that, "The stocks that spawn on the outer-coastal areas are more productive than stocks that spawn in the inside waters." For Mr. Bedford to now compare the Sitka and West Behm fisheries is a terrible deception to the people of this state. Worse yet, was his fraudulent misrepresentation of numbers. His carefully worded statement, as you can see above, makes it appear in the Ketchikan Daily News article that the West Behm fishery is in good condition and has the same 54,000 ton biomass numbers as Sitka Sound.
I hope that you recognize the gravity of what is occurring. Mr. Bedford represents you and acts on your behalf. Additionally he presents himself as representing Governor Murkowski. His participation as Deputy Commissioner cannot be allowed to continue. It also appears that his previous position as Executive Officer of the Seiner's Association is still being represented.
Prior to the scheduled West Behm herring fishery, Mr. Bedford came to Ketchikan and provided oversight to a hastily scheduled meeting by ADF&G where a presentation was given on the state of the herring fisheries. It was obvious from the beginning that he was only there to support the fishery. He completely disregarded obvious facts presented by knowledgeable local fishermen familiar with the decline of the herring stocks in the Ketchikan area.
As many of us now know, the information you have been given by the ADF&G and supported by Mr. Bedford appears to be false. You have been given the research paper entitled "The Alaska Department of Fish and Game's Discrepancies of Data Over the Kah Shakes Fishery Collapse". The department and Mr. Bedford have lost all credibility regarding the herring fishery management.
Commissioner Duffy, we ask that you take action to start the process of restoring credibility to management in our herring fisheries. Mr. Bedford cannot be allowed to continue leading you, the Board of Fisheries and our current administration down a path that leads to the decimation of Alaska's herring stocks. He has created an emergency situation requiring immediate attention.
Common sense should prevail. To plan, support and try to conduct a fishery, on a biomass of approximately 9,000 ton that in the years 1999 to 2000 dropped 10,000 ton without a fishery is intolerable and irresponsible. Many of us down here would welcome the opportunity to speak with you personally. Until that time comes, we look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
I am a 30+ year resident of Ketchikan. I support the responsible use of our natural resources. In the past I have traveled to our nation's capital to visit members of Congress in support of our once active pulp mill and timber industry in Southeast Alaska. I am a past President of our local Chamber of Commerce and in prior years participated on the Board of Directors for the Alaska State Chamber of Commerce.
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