Friday, August 21, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lax Kw'alaams finds success with a shipment to Asia, the case of the missing Fisheries Minister and the worrisome state of the salmon fishery, some of the items of interest in the news cycle on Wednesday.

DAILY NEWS, Headline story, Wednesday, August 19, 2009
A COMMERCIAL FIRST FOR LAX KW'ALAAMS-- 400,000 pounds of pink salmon is on its way to Asia and that shipment through the Port of Prince Rupert could be the blue print for future success for the community's fish plant (see story here) Item is provided at the end of this post as well.

While one or two Conservative MP's may make it town on occassion, the person everyone wants to see is still missing in action. Prince George MP Jay Hill offers up hope that Fisheries Minister Gail Shea may one day spend some time on the north coast to learn more about our issues and concerns (see story here)

The future of salmon fishing on the Pacific coast has become a worrisome topic of late, with this years forecast showing serious shortfalls in stock levels. George T. Baker examines the state of the fishery in the summer of 2009 and the prospect for its future years (see story here)

Council weighs in on the controversial Sales tax initiative of the Liberal government, offering up their opposition to the prospect of a Harmonized tax program with the GST. (see story here)

Wednesdays Sports page features a look at the Prince Rupert Rugby club as they prepare for more action in the Northwest.

Daily News front page, headline story:

A commercial first for Lax Kw'alaams
By George T.Baker

The Prince Rupert Daily News
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Pages one and nine

The community of Lax Kw'alaams celebrated a significant milestone for its fish plant last week.

According to elected Chief, John Helin, the community has sent 400,000 pounds of pink salmon to Asia via the container port, a first for both Port Simpson and Fairview.

"If we had that landing in Prince Rupert, it would make things a lot easier for us," said Helin.

What could make this historic achievement a bigger and more consistent success, said Helin, is the development of the Arrow Point ferry landing, which is scheduled for 2010. At this point, there is no date planned for completion and no date.

"The latest [word] is that the community should be in there by January or February at the earliest," said Helin.

"It's a pretty long, drawn out process and it's frustrating, but what can you do?" he wondered.

There is a significant amount of red tape standing in the way of getting the project off the ground. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency and Transport Canada are some of the jurisdictions that Lax Kw'alaams must pass through before it gets the final okay.

"We have to go through the process," said Helin

Another entity waiting for the community to go through the process is the Prince Rupert Port Authority.

The PRPA has been interested in sending seafood products from southeast Alaska and the B.C. North Coast since it began container operations in October 2007.

Suppliers, shippers and purchasers just hadn't realized the opportunity until now.

For instance, southeast Alaska salmon average prices have climbed steadily from 12 cents to 16 cents in 2006, then to 17 cents in 2007, according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game data. Last year, ex-vessel offers averaged 29 cents per pound, statewide. Offers in Southeast and around Kodiak hit a respective 27 cents and 30 cents, while processors in Prince William Sound paid 33 cents per pound.

Climbing global prices should eventually equal greater gains for Lax Kw'alaams. And greater gains for Lax Kw'alaams would mean more business for Fairview/Maher Terminals and their landlords, the PRPA.

According to the PRPA's manager of corporate communications, Barry Bartlett, the historic salmon send off was welcome news.

"We've been looking for the opportunity to export seafood and we've been trying and hoping that Port Simpson would come through," said Bartlett.

Up to this point the reefer containers have been sitting at the terminal, inspected and ready for service. All that was needed was a customer, which appears to have come.

"We're hoping for more of that because this is certainly good news," added Bartlett.

Podunkian correction: My portion of the item above has been corrected to reflect the total volume of fish from my original misprint of 400 to 400,000, my apologies to all of the pinks for not counting all of those that gave their lives for Asian dinner tables. KP

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