Alaska Commercial Fisherman Comments on Palin

The following is a comment submitted by a multi-generation Alaska fisherman in response to Kodiak Fishing Wife’s comment from last week.


You have to love the passion the ’08 Presidential race has generated. Much of that passion is a result of our economy sliding into the abyss, with the added component of race and gender.

The gender component, of course, is the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Alaska’s governor Sarah Palin. I find it interesting that the most egregious attacks on Palin have come from her her own gender—the topper being reported by a leading female Canadian jorunalist. In her byline, this East Coast journalist called Sarah Palin “white trash” and went went on to say that all Alaskans are “drunks and insane.”

As a former 30-year Alaska resident, I’d like to report that I was not a drunk—but as I made my living by commercial fishing for 40 years, I may have been a little “off my rocker.”

Sober and sane Alaska resident Liz (Kodiak Fishing Wife) aptly let us know in this blog why she preferred Obama over McCain. In addition, she provided insights on Palin. I respect and appreciate Liz’s views about Palin. I have conflicting viewpoints about Palin myself, but overall, I believe Palin is an asset to the McCain ticket and an advocate for Alaska commercial fishermen, and is capable of doing the job.

Palin is unique; she eats her own cooking, practices what she preaches, and means what she says. I like that quality. I prefer a candidate who does not tell me what I want to hear or adjusts his/her stance as they go, calculating, driven by polls or speical interest$, like most politicians. I like Palin’s ability to be open to ideas and to adjust, as evidenced in part by her ability to stay married, change church affiliations and having the willingness to move to Washington, D.C.

Alaskans are largely happy with Palin. She has an 80% approval rating. Evidently, she is doing what most Alaskans elected her to do as Governor. I do believe she cares about the State of Alaska and the people who live there. Her journey to the Governorship was unique.

Though I know little of her past relationship with Senator Murkowski, I imagine she is no longer warmly welcomed into his home, after beating him in the Governor’s race. She then went on to beat Tony Knowles. Knowles was an Alaska fisherman’s worst nightmare, primarily appointing individuals with only sport fishing interest to the board of fish and game, and being in the hip pocket of sports interest in general.

The Alaska fishing industry will only be better served by political leadership that has a commercial fishing background vice none. Palin and her husband commercially fished, she knows a sockeye salmon from a silver salmon, wild salmon from farmed salmon, and has a family that benefits directly from commercial fishing.

Most politicians, like Ted Stevens, would have followed the money, and catered to big oil. It is an illusion that either Obama or McCain have ANY interest in squeezed oil, like Omega 3.

Palin, however, challenged big oil and its money, because she felt the people of the State of Alaska were not getting a fair return on this resource. She challenged the “system,” even if it put her political ambitions (if not her husband’s oil industry work ambitions) at risk.

Palin challenged big oil by asking them why they weren’t drilling within in the Alaska leases they already had. She asked them why they weren’t building a pipeline to transport the huge natural gas resources from the north slope into Canada and the U.S.  When she couldn’t get big oil to budge on building a natural gas pipeline, she convinced the state to partner with Transcanada to get the pipeline built.

The pipeline should benefit Alaska and the USA, and Palin and the State of Alaska should be applauded. I believe this effort will reduce our resource dependency on foreign imports. This effort will also help increase inventories and cost. I believe Palin feels that resource-rich Alaska should carefully exploit these resources in an environmentally-safe manner, including mining resources.

I visited friends in Sterling, Alaska recently following my return from Bristol Bay. I watched all of the Proposition 4 television ads. The Prop 4 ads catalyzed by Pebble Mine were designed to basically stop all mining in the State of Alaska. Prop 4, as written, overreached its intended goal. Like Palin, I wouldn’t have voted for it either.

I’m a Commercial Fishing Guy, with friends that fish “The Bay,” but I am also a Resource Guy. (For what it’s worth, the big $ behind Pebble Mine is a S. African mining company run by a woman with a good environmental record. That said, I don’t support Pebble Mine.)  Prop 4 was defeated by a vote of 90,000 to 70,000, so Palin felt the same about the proposition as the majority of Alaskans. Not supporting Prop 4 does not mean support for the Pebble Mine project.

Restrictions, like Prop 4, in the State of Washington have eliminated or restricted digging, drilling, driving a pile, fishing commercially on wild fish, cutting a tree, expanding a refinery, building a new refinery, digging a new pipeline, draining and ditching. The permit process for these and other “family wage” jobs is prohibitive and endless. They are looked upon as politically incorrect.

One is welcome to go ahead and have a garage sale, for which one’s local paper will provide a weekend map. There are also several opportunities in minimum wage service jobs.

Palin’s history is similar to those of us who live ordinary public school lives. She relates to us because her experience is similar. She does not have a trust fund or an Ivy League education simply because her family donated to the school’s trust.

I believe that she is honest and cares about her family, state, and country, and about how well she does her job. The job she currently strives for requires strength of character, not connections. Honesty, not guile. Fiscal responsibility, not hubris and entitlement.

Palin is our most reasonable hope for making changes in “business as usual” in Washington, D.C. because she is not a part of the established virus that infects most of our present D.C. representation. She is more likely to say “no,” like the pitbull hockey mom she’s professed to be.

I see Palin’s lack of D.C. experience and connections as her greatest asset as a Vice Presidential candidate.

Leave a Reply