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An update on the crisis in Emmonak/Western Alaska

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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:00 PM
Original message
An update on the crisis in Emmonak/Western Alaska
From Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis http://divasblueoasis.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=424



Friday night, I attended a meeting of concerned citizens who wanted to be brought up to speed on the crisis in Alaska villages. We met with folks who either spend their time interviewing/meeting with/talking to village residents on a daily basis as well as those who flew out and spent the week with people in Bethel, Emmonak and St. Marys gathering information and making contacts.

The news was good and bad.

Good: Food and supplies are making their way to the Alaska villagers who need them. Alaska Newspapers, Inc has been flying donations at the same time they've been delivering their papers. They have a list of items on their website that folks can drop off at the Calista Building.

Good: Five representatives from the State went to Emmonak and Kotlik this week.

Bad: Five representatives from the State spent a very few hours in Emmonak and Kotlik this week...the wrong five representatives.

There was Tara Jollie from Community and Regional Affairs as well as representatives from the Department of Labor, the state divisions of Public Assistance and Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

1) No one came from ANY agency dealing with the Alaska fisheries.

This crisis is the direct result of the failure of the king salmon fishery this past summer, so folks have been living on approximately 1/20th their normal yearly income. The villages have protested for years about the decimation of their subsistance fishery by huge trawlers from Washington State (all with cute Alaskan names) who either overfish the kings or waste them as bycatch when fishing for other species. Yet, no one from Dept. of Fish and Game, the Dept. of Environmental Conservation or the Board of Fisheries showed up...no one. This sent a message that no one has been listening...that in the years since 2001, when the fishery crashed the last time and none of the promises made by the Knowles administration were ever realized, no one has been paying attention at all.

<snip>


More here at The Immoral Minority http://theimmoralminority.blogspot.com /

<snip>

Dennis was there when the five officials from the government arrived in Emmonak, and said that essentially they were a bunch of "jackasses" full of promises but no real solutions. Dennis said it was clear to him that they were only there to provide the appearance of concern and to cover for Governor Palin.

Dennis also pointed out that none of the five were from Fish and Game and the main reason that Emmonak is in the situation that it is in is because they lost 40% of their revenue from fishing this year compared to last year. If these people cannot fish they simply cannot support themselves. Without help getting more fish for the village this problem will simply not go away.

Dennis also reported that the villagers have a solution to their own problem if only the government will help them to them build a new dock and a new a fuel storage facility. These are proud people who are very ashamed to have been reduced to asking for handouts and who just want the opportunity to be self-sufficient again. But the strict rules on fishing and hunting for those living a subsistence lifestyle make it virtually impossible to live according the "old ways".

By the time that the fishing season officially opened for Emmonak the fish were all but gone, having been "fished out" by commercial fishing boats with huge nets and crews made up almost exclusively of caucasian out of state fishermen.

<snip>

Dennis wants to take this issue directly to Juneau and show them the footage that he filmed while he was in Emmonak. I have seen some of it and it has a very dramatic affect on the viewer.

Then Dennis wants to travel to Washington to meet with Mark Begich and possibly some of Barack Obama's new team.




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Fireweed247 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:09 PM
Response to Original message
1. This stinks!
I didn't realize this was the problem....and the solution seems pretty obvious!

"But the strict rules on fishing and hunting for those living a subsistence lifestyle make it virtually impossible to live according the "old ways".

By the time that the fishing season officially opened for Emmonak the fish were all but gone, having been "fished out" by commercial fishing boats with huge nets and crews made up almost exclusively of caucasian out of state fishermen."


(BTW did you feel that 6.1 earthquake this morning? Yikes that was seriously scary!)
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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:26 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Oh, yes, I felt the earthquake.
I think I was reading DU at the time, and I kind of grabbed the edge of my desk until it subsided. The pull chain on my desk lamp swung like a pendulum.


I think something really needs to be done about the balance between the commercial, subsistence, and sports fishing. Obviously, the big Outside commercial outfits are taking way more than their share. Even the sports fishermen should be up in arms about this -- well, I guess they are, actually. It's pretty bad when, as a sports fisherman, you're limited to one halibut, especially with the high cost of the charters. We went king fishing down on the Kasilof last summer and we had a really hard time compared to prior years because apparently there were drift nets strung across the mouth of the river.


I don't think Sarah has a clue (obviously) about wildlife management, fisheries or any of these things. All she wants to do is "lay pipe," and "drill, baby, drill." It's really noticeable that she hasn't personally addressed the issues being faced by these people in the villages.

Did you read that the guy who called into Dan Fagan warning that this whole thing is a "scam" is a "friend of Sarah"? http://divasblueoasis.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=422
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Fireweed247 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 03:47 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. That story about about Sarah's friend John Dickens is just sick!
Why would someone want to stop the generous and much needed help from other caring Alaskans?

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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 04:02 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. I could be wrong, but
Edited on Sat Jan-24-09 04:02 PM by Blue_In_AK
I'm guessing he's a white man. His bio says he came to Alaska in 1969. Whatever his race, it would seem that he's lived here long enough that he SHOULD know that the Alaskan way is to help your neighbors who are in trouble. I came here in 1975, and I know that much. He seems particularly mean-spirited for someone who's supposed to be a volunteer EMT and firefighter.
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Marrah_G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 11:15 PM
Response to Reply #2
13. Glad you are all okay
I thought of you when I heard about the earthquake.
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bobbolink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 04:17 PM
Response to Original message
5. I don't even know what to say. I'm so sick of the greed and "who cares" in this country!
As Michael Moore said, "Who ARE we??"
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druidity33 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 05:05 PM
Response to Original message
6. thanks for the update... nt. K&R
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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 05:28 PM
Response to Original message
7. I just finally read Sarah's "State of the State" speech.
Not a mention of rural issues except this one sentence: "In villages, our weatherization programs provide jobs and reduce the cost of living." It's all about the "energy." http://community.adn.com/adn/node/137075

Also see http://www.themudflats.net/2009/01/23/state-of-the-stat... /
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uppityperson Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 05:30 PM
Response to Original message
8. k&r, thanks for the update
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Blue_In_AK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 06:47 PM
Response to Original message
9. "Emmonak Donations a Miracle of Caring"
From The Tundra Drums -- Bethel/Y-K Delta Newspaper
http://thetundradrums.com/news/show/4615

Thats how Nicholas Tucker Sr. described the flood of donations Emmonak is getting from churches, villages, businesses, Alaska bloggers and others who heard about the villages desperation.

The community of 800 on the Lower Yukon River has been hit by one of the harshest winters in memory, thanks to crippling energy prices, extreme cold and poor commercial fishing last summer, residents said.

Emmonak, like other villages in the region, has had it hard for years. The last U.S. census in 2000 found that per capita income in the village was $8,700.

Wages in the village probably havent increased much since then, said Joe Austerman, director of the states Office of Economic Development.

In 2007, Alaskas per capita income was $40,352.

Meanwhile, prices in the village have skyrocketed.

<snip> ... much more




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KakistocracyHater Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 07:25 PM
Response to Original message
10. Ruffians who hunt & gather to extinction
seem to be everywhere; Canada, England, Alaska, Japan....what gives? We have the technology to place stationary booies(sp?) in the ocean/lake, & to create the new job of fish-rancher, hopefully not as dim-witted as cattle-barons-who stupidly take sickly cows & feed them back to healthy cows INSTEAD of COMPOSTING them like Mike Rowe did with turkeys on "Dirty Jobs".

Non-mercury fish food, helping them along to grow up & breed the next generation & then killing the fish as they are a HUGE source of food to seemingly MOST of the world.

Instead of doing like the Russians-or whoever they are now-& making caviar SSOOOO MUCH that they too are collapsing their fisheries. Scientists everywhere are forced to watch dull-witted politicians refuse to safeguard a major food supply in the false name of employing fishermen(who seem damned determined to put themselves out of their jobs).
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roody Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 07:35 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. buoys?
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Fireweed247 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Jan-24-09 11:10 PM
Response to Original message
12. There is hope!
Fuel vouchers suggested for villages
http://www.adn.com/news/alaska/story/666500.html

"Regional leaders criticized Gov. Sarah Palin this month for failing to act faster, while the state, citing inconsistent reports about what was happening in Emmonak, sent Jollie and four other officials in the Palin administration to visit the region for a first-hand look.

Fuel costs soared in many villages, while Emmonak and Kotlik leaders have called on the state to declare a fishing disaster. A poor salmon season left some commercial fishermen saying they actually lost money trying to fish last year. Commerce Commissioner Emil Notti said this month that while fishermen made less money, incomes didn't drop low enough to legally qualify as a disaster.

Jollie said Friday that the state is still investigating whether a disaster declaration is possible."

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