Democratic candidate for Alaska governor, Mark Begich Credit: Anchorage Daily News
Governor candidate Mark Begich came to Kodiak this week anyway despite the fisheries debate being cancelled due to his opponent Mike Dunleavy’s no show. In this excerpt from a longer interview, Begich didn’t hold back on his reaction –
“He bailed on coming to the fish debate, the first time in 27 years that someone running for governor has not shown up. I think it’s appalling. I think it shows his lack of respect for our coastal communities and their importance to the economy of this great state and the people who live and work here.”
Begich sees fisheries research and surveys as a top state priority –
“With fisheries, sometimes it’s almost the forgotten resource of our state as an economic driver and we have to realign that. We spend a lot of resources taking care of oil and gas and mining but when it comes to fisheries it’ s almost like they are an afterthought. And at the end of the day, we are never going to be able to manage our resource the proper way. We would do this for any other industry and this one definitely needs the resources. And I think there are opportunities through federal, state as well as foundation money that I believe is out there to help us do this.”
He also is a strong supporter of Alaska’s hatchery program.
“I support the hatchery program. I know there is some current conversation going on about hatcheries impacts regarding if there is too much fish in the ocean that are consuming too much food that’s necessary for the fish to prosper for the long term health of the fisheries. There is no real science around that and the hatcheries have been very successful for us as a state.”
Begich calls Trump’s seafood tariff spat with China a long lasting job buster.
“Let’s specifically take fisheries. If we’re not careful, it could another $500 million to $700 million to the cost of our fish products sold to China. And here’s what they will do. They will decide to buy products from another place and once they do that, we’ll lose our market share.
“We should be teaming up right now with the governors of Washington, Oregon and the Gulf states working with the Trump Administration and the state department and start pounding on them that this is hurting American jobs, Alaskan jobs. These are dangerous things for us to be playing.”
Begich was quick to respond to a question about the fishing industry’s biggest challenge –
“I think the biggest threat to our fisheries is the issue of climate change. When you think of acidification, warming waters, these are things that right now we don’t have enough information to understand what the long term impacts are going to be, and it is clear that there are going to be impacts.
Begich called it unfortunate that Mike Dunleavy is unwilling to share his vision for Alaska’s vast seafood industry.
“This is the clear difference between Mike Dunleavy and me. I believe we have to have a vision, a future view of where we’re going. We can’t just be doing this meeting to meeting, session to session, day to day. We have to be thinking of where we want to be 10, 20, 30 years from now. And with Mike Dunleavy, no one is going to hear his vision, no one is going to know his plans.”
Begich says he is hopeful Alaskans will take the time to compare the records of the two candidates.
“I joke with people that I’m not sure which one I’m running against. Is it the one in the state who cut a lot of areas that have impacted us in a negative way or is it the Dunleavy that’s been created by $3.7 million of marketing that is new and improved, but really not telling what he’s going to do. This is too big of an election to be bamboozled by a bunch of high priced media that his ethically challenged brother and the Republican committee back in Washington, D.C. is funding.”
Republican candidate Mike Dunleavy has refused Fish Radio’s requests for interviews.
A full transcript of Ak Fish Radio’s interview with Mark Begich will be posted soon.