Association's stand against Pebble is fishy

Rep. Kyle Johansen

Recently, the Pacific Seafood Processors Association weighed in on the Pebble project. The hypocrisy of this action motivates me to put pen to paper.

Of the 10 member companies belonging to the PSPA seven are owned by Japanese corporations and one by the third largest private company in Canada. Two are American companies. While this multinational corporate ownership does not bother me, I do take issue with its position against this project.

The following is a closer look at the corporations taking a stand against the opportunity for the Pebble project to go through the state permitting process.

Maruha Nichiro owns four of the 10 member companies (Alyeska Seafoods, Golden Alaska, Peter Pan Seafoods and Westward Seafoods). Their 121 subsidiaries invest in fish-farming, aquaculture, livestock, pet food, medical/health industries as well as wild fish processing in Japan, China, Thailand and the U.S.

Holding two seats (Unisea and Phoenix Processor) is Nippon Suisan Corp. It farms salmon and processes seafood at seven South American locations. Its fish farming, catching, processing, pharmaceutical/health product subsidiaries operate in Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, EU, China, Africa and the U.S.

So far, six of the 10 members of this multinational corporate PSPA group partake in fish farming, the bane of Wild Alaska Salmon, the antithesis of the natural, wild, self-proclaimed "last great wild salmon fishery on Earth" located in Bristol Bay, the very reason we pay to label our salmon Wild Alaska Salmon."

The Marubeni Corp., holding the seventh seat, is active in carbon trading, agriculture, fertilizers, apparel, rubber production, pulp production, chemicals, oil and gas trading, liquified natural gas wells and transportation, shale plays, retail, shipping, textiles, insurance, finance, real estate and more in North, Central and South America, Russia, Africa, Middle East, the U.S., Asia, China and more.

Marubeni is also active in copper, coal, iron and steel extraction and smelting. Heavy investment in copper and coal mining in Chile and Australia highlights investment targets. As its metal and mineral 2011 initiative website states, "Our intent here is to increase opportunities for the division to acquire mining interests." There is nothing wrong with that goal, as far as I am concerned.

Troubling is that Marubeni has a stake in copper mining on the Fraser River in British Columbia. You know the Fraser, the "last great salmon and sturgeon fishing watershed left on the planet." Marubeni has a financial interest in copper mining near a fishery that figures into the Pacific Salmon Treaty negotiations. The Pacific Salmon Treaty dictates how many fish my constituents are allowed to catch each season.

Finally, the third-largest privately held corporation in the nation of Canada. I could not actually find Alaska General Seafoods on its website. Its holdings include auto dealers, grocery stores, magazine distribution networks and financial services. The corporation owns 27 radio stations, three TV stations, the rights to the Guinness book of world records and Ripley's Believe it or Not.

Ripley's could feature the Jim Pattison group when it comes to resource development assets. Aside from its interests in plastics and the aluminum industry, it seems most proud of its mining and forestry subsidiaries.

As a coal exporter it moved a company record volume in 2010. Its handling and transfer facilities for the mining industry include the largest dry-bulk loading facility on the west coast of North, Central or South America. Recent investments in these mining specific export terminals shows its dedication to the mining industry.

In addition, its Canfor Pulp Co. is the largest pulp company in North America. It has a production capacity of 4.8 billion board feet a year, all from British Columbia.

Is it possible that the first two corporations with 60 percent of the membership of the PSPA tout the natural wild salmon of Alaska on one hand and farm salmon in Chile behind their back on the other? Could the other two aforementioned multinational corporations be simply killing an Alaska mining project to protect their own mining interests?

It could be happening. As Ripley would say, Believe It or Not!

Rep. Kyle Johansen, R-Ketchikan, has served in the state House of Representatives since 2007.