Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Salmon research tagged as 'egregious earmark'

An Arizona congressman posted this smack on his Web site recently.

So how about it, BSFA? Care to smack back?

Or at least explain why we need $190,000 in salmon research?

Jeff Flake
Arizona's Sixth District

Congressman Flake Spotlights Egregious Earmark of the Week

$190,000 to the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association for Salmon Research

MESA, Arizona, May 8 — Republican Congressman Jeff Flake, who represents Arizona’s Sixth District, today highlighted a pork project contained in the omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2009.

This week’s egregious earmark: $190,000 to the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association in Anchorage, Alaska, for salmon research.

“Taxpayers are ‘bering’ the brunt of congressional earmarking,” said Flake.


Anonymous said...

How does the Bering Sea Fishermen's Association decide who is on its board of directors? It doesn't have open elections.

Its books and financial records are not available for public inspection and is has little or no transparency or accountability.

I think is is right that congress question this earmark.

Anonymous said...

A real Flake alright! About as brite as the guy from Luisiana who was mad about the volcano observatory funding. I will be surprised if he knows Alaska is a state

Karen Gillis said...

(Wes, sadly you don't' have a word limit on your comments. Thanks for allowing this opportunity.)

I don't know that we need to "smack back," but I am happy to set some things straight here and then follow up with Congressman Flake and the mass of media people who have contacted me on this issue in the last couple of days.

The most unfortunate thing I see here is that at no point did anyone from Congressman Flake's office contact us to seek information about how these funds are used.

Bering Sea Fishermen's Association does have a slight disadvantage due to our name. Originally we were designed to boost the fisheries opportunities for small boat fishermen from Bristol Bay up through the Arctic regions. Over the years we've reorganized ourselves to attend to the most pressing needs which are salmon research and various regulatory issues. BSFA is an IRS determined 501(c)(3) non-profit organization which means we are a charitable organization.

Since 1994 BSFA has been engaged in freshwater and marine research endeavors. We do this A) because the information gathered is critical to the residents of the regions we serve; and B) because there are few private organizations to partner with state or federal agencies to see that the direction research takes is in the best interest of the stakeholders.

In 2002 I was appointed, by Governor Murkowski and then reappointed by Governor Palin, to participate in the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission. The Commission is a partnership between the United States, Canada, Russia, Japan, and Korea. The goal of the NPAFC is to direct research efforts focused on anadromous stocks in the North Pacific and Bering Sea and share the results of that research with participating countries in order to increase our understanding of these stocks. The $190,000 goes directly to the analyzes of certain data (samples) gathered on the high seas within a program called the Bering Sea Aleutian International Surveys (BASIS). Here is direct language from our application (which has been a competitive process in recent years):

[Western Alaska Marine Salmon Studies= WAMSS]

The goal of WAMSS (in concert with BASIS) addresses the following question:

1)What are the seasonal-specific migration patterns of salmon and their relation to the Bering Sea Ecosystem;

WAMSS will work to support efforts that help answer this question, and to reach the long term, common objectives of WAMSS and BASIS, which are to:

•Monitor and evaluate oceanographic and biological factors related to salmon production;

•Determine and understand the role of salmon in nektonic communities and their association to Bering Sea ecosystem status;

•Understand the causes of changes in salmon carrying capacity in the Bering Sea;

•Understand the processes that affect salmon production;

•Study the linkage between marine survival of salmon, and climate and ocean changes; and

•Predict the potential impacts on marine salmon habitats.

If you'd like more information please give me a call. If you'd like to know how our Board of Director's are chosen our bylaws are registered with the State of Alaska, or you could just call me and ask me. I have been with BSFA for 17 years and have never heard of a request for our financial records, but OF COURSE they are public documents and if I got a request to share them I would happily oblige.

Karen Gillis
Executive Director
Bering Sea Fishermen's Association

Anonymous said...

Are you saying BSFA has open elections for its board of directors?

How can a Bering Sea Fisherman who wants to get on the board go about it?