July 17, 2014
You’ve heard it before and you’ll hear it again: The seafood industry is Alaska’s largest private employer, putting more people to work than any other sector. The revenue the seafood sector contributes to state coffers is second only to Big Oil.
So how does the seafood industry stack up among the major candidates running for Alaska governor and U.S. senator?
Here’s what each campaign website reveals, starting with the race for governor:
• Gov. Sean Parnell (Republican incumbent) only mentions fishing in his “Issues/Standing Against Federal Overreach” section, saying he “fought off the federal government’s attempt to implement ocean zoning — known as marine spatial planning” and “to protect the livelihoods of our fishing fleet in Southeast, the state of Alaska petitioned to de-list the Eastern stock of Steller sea lions that had been protected by the Endangered Species Act.” An article about “Wal-Mart to keep buying Alaska salmon” appears in the blog section. (www.parnell2014.com)
• Bill Walker (Independent) has a section called “Issues/Fish Management” in which he says: “Having spent 30 years in Prince William Sound, I am familiar with the importance fisheries play in all aspects of the economy. … Furthermore, I will protect, maintain and improve the fish, game and aquatic plant resources of the state and manage their use and development for the well-being of the people consistent with high-sustained yield principles.” (www.walkerforalaska.com)
Candidates running for the U.S. Senate need to be aware that nearly 85 percent of Alaska’s seafood harvests fall under federal jurisdiction.
• Sen. Mark Begich (Democratic incumbent) lists fishing resources under his “Priorities/Economy and Jobs” section saying: “In Alaska, fishing isn’t a hobby or a sporting event. More than 76,000 jobs in our state are directly or indirectly linked to the fishing industry. Our fisheries bring in $5 billion to our state’s economy. For us, fishing is a way of life.” Begich also mentions his ongoing fight against genetically modified salmon. (www.markbegich.com )
• Dan Sullivan (Republican candidate) posts a picture of a fishing boat in the “Issues/Jobs and the Economy” section but does not mention anything about fishing or the industry. Under “Improving Lives & Opportunities in Rural Alaska” Sullivan says he “continues the time-honored activities of his wife Julie’s family at their fish camp on the Yukon River.” There is no mention of fish in his “Natural Resources” section. (www.sullivan2014.com)
• Mead Treadwell (Republican candidate) lists “fishing industry” in the “Issues” section and says, “Alaska’s fishing industry supports thousands of jobs and produces billions for our economy. (www.treadwellalaska.com)
Candidates running for the U.S. House of Representatives didn’t have much more to say.
• Forrest Dunbar (Democratic candidate) mentions two summers he fished commercially out of Cordova. (www.forrestforalaska.com)