Homer Alaska - Opinion

Story last updated at 3:39 PM on Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Charter regulations long overdue; better businesspeople will prevail

Point of View

By Dan Anderson

I have been kicking around Homer for a little short of 30 years now. I have watched the evolution of Homer harbor with wincing in my face, being my roots are from the Midwest and I have lived the Midwest political machine at its very worst. I'm seeing it happen once again, and plea with those in the machine not to let it happen.

As a kid, I witnessed the introduction of salmon to the Great Lakes and all of the fallout that came after. Being my father was a commercial fisherman and these salmon were not allowed in the commercial catch was one thing (in my opinion these salmon are not worth putting a knife to being their Atlantic origin). The rules the commercial fleet had to endure because of these fish was devastating to the families and fleet support businesses. Currently the Great Lakes are under total siege from invasive species (Lake Superior being somewhat of an exception).

Back to my point: I have watched the harbor expand to — let's see my slip is on H float and I think that J float was the last float at that time — how many do we have now? I remember my first night in the Salty Dawg in mid-January in the mid 1980s, a properly oiled charter boat skipper was talking about how many came over his rails (his vessel was one of the first mid-50-foot charter boats). In total ignorance of what Alaska had to offer at this time of my life, I almost, as Red Foxx put it, had the big one.

Every time I walked out on the Addy's ramp, which is now, I guess, the Coal Point ramp, as I viewed the harbor and started to do the math I asked myself: How much can the system support? With the continued expansion of effort the door at some point is going to slam shut with some body's fingers or toes in harm's way.

If this note of rambling gets printed, it's more than 15 years too late.

I sat on the North Pacific Fisheries Commission's panel (because of my involvement in the Great Lakes quota allocation matrix) to help allocate halibut and black cod to the commercial fleet in the early 1990s. As I told the attending crowds in Anchorage and Seattle, the initial allocation hurts and the better businessmen will prevail. (It's a hard fact, but a very real one as today's economy resonates.)

In the Midwest, it was everybody wanted to be a big shot and have a boat to take his/her buddies out, have a few drinks and maybe some romance, and they thought: "We'll run a few charters and write the boat, slip, insurance, etc. off on our taxes."

Personally, I think some of Homer went in a similar direction. When it all crashed in the Great Lakes, a lot of boats went for sale cheap (similar to the nation's housing market). It was not a pretty picture, but the system can only support so much. I ask myself and those in the political machine: Why should Johnny Come Lately raise his/her hand and cry foul when it's the Johnny Come Lately that's been expanding at an alarming rate over the last 15 years?

I think that restrictions and regulation are most certainly past due, but at the expense of a user group that's had heavy oversight for many years. I cry foul. Now that I have put this to print, I'm somewhat afraid that my kids may come home from school one day in the near future tarred and feathered because of their father's words, but I cry horse doughnuts to the way this has been going and my family will hold their heads high.

By the way, I probably hold the smallest commercial quota share out there, so it doesn't matter much to me either way.

Dan Anderson is the captain of the F/V Paragon.