Letters to the editor (8/8/12)

Faulty data, politics take toll on Kenai Peninsula setnetters

Hundreds of small, locally run businesses on the Kenai Peninsula have been closed down this summer, by order of the state. Every single one of them is tens of thousands of dollars in the red from hiring employees, ordering supplies and purchasing new equipment -- not to mention the fees, leases and permits paid to the state of Alaska as part of the contract to operate those businesses.

Thousands of families are affected and many are still trying to figure out how to cope with bills that will come due this fall and winter, hard-working crew members wonder how they are going to pay for college and children -- like everyone else -- wonder if there is a future in the business for them.

This is the economic devastation being wrought upon the east-side setnetting families. The closure of these businesses is based on faulty data in an industry that is being managed politically, not biologically. The not-so-funny thing is: Hardly anyone else is even aware that these people are sinking. Support your fellow Alaskans and spread the word.

-- Nancy Taylor


Setnetters' peril is overblown, but their point is valid

I find it difficult to accept the whining from setnetters about their perceived fiscal peril this year. Last year about 400 halibut charter captains had their livelihoods ruined when NOAA/NMFS eliminated about a third of the charter fleet. That makes for more than just a bad year ... more like a change in career paths.

I haven't heard of any charter businesses calling for disaster relief or bailouts from the government. I do, however, support the setnetters' discontent with ADF&G's decision to shut down their season based on ADF&G's chinook return "estimates" of a dismal year.

As of July 25, ADF&G guesstimates that 9,082 chinook passed their counters, compared to 13,241 in 2010 and 16,616 in 2011. That puts 2012 at 61 percent of the average return for the past two years -- not really dismal. According to ADF&G, the chinook numbers have dropped significantly after 2009. Note that in 2010 ADF&G started using their newfangled DIDSON sonar system and hark, we now have a guesstimated drastic decline in the chinook numbers.

Maybe what we're experiencing is not declining numbers in the chinook return but the result of ADF&G buying into an expensive and possibly bogus new sonar system.

-- John Kuklis


Romney wrong to suggest moving embassy to Jerusalem

Moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as Mitt Romney proposes would signal a major shift in U.S. Middle East policy espoused since the 1967 Six Day War.

The Israeli Army conquered the eastern part of the city in that conflict, but by continuing to maintain our official presence in Tel Aviv we've managed to maintain a somewhat neutral stance in the conflict between the Palestinians and Israelites.

All presidents since 1967, Republicans and Democrats, have understood the importance of this stance. By relocating our embassy to Jerusalem, the USA would signal that we're now squarely on the side of the Israeli state, a move designed by the short-term view of gaining Jewish votes in the next election but forfeiting any role the USA might play in future peace negotiations. Surely the Camp David Accords were made possible by this diplomatic stance of the USA.

Our government and president should continue to strive for peace instead of partisanship in this troubled part of the world.

-- Stephen O'Brien