August 05, 2003
In turning down a request last Friday from Smokie Foods to issue an Inland Waters Permit to the foreign processor, Murkowski noted that state Fish & Game biologists have reported that it is unlikely that a significant surplus of pinks will be produced that domestic processors won't want.
Under the Magnuson-Stevens Act, a governor may not grant permission for an IWP if he determines "that fish processors within the state have adequate capacity and will utilize such capacity to process all of the United States harvested fish from the fishery concerned." The governor has met with domestic processors on a number of occasions this year and received assurances that they can and will process the harvest.
"At the same time, we recognize Alaska fishermen are on limits," Murkowski said, "but that is a necessary part of doing business in a fishery that assures a quality product, which ultimately benefits everyone fishermen, processors, and consumers.
"Furthermore, Russia is grappling with huge runs of pinks this year, which means if we were to allow Russian processors to enter our waters to buy our fish, the product would not stay in Russia, but would possibly filter back onto the world market."
If this were to happen, Murkowski said, the Russian-processed Alaska salmon would wind up directly competing against Alaska's frozen fillets and other new innovative pink salmon products. The low production costs for the Russians would result in unfair competition for U.S. processors, he said, and cheap labor used by the foreign processors would undercut Alaska's goal of improving employment in the processing industry.
According to Murkowski, Alaska
fish harvesters as well as domestic fish processors stand to
lose if market prices were to fall as a result of inviting the
foreign competition. It would establish a bad precedent for capital
reinvestment in our shoreside processing industry, he said, and
damage state efforts to revitalize the state's fishing industry.
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