The fishing fleet in Kotzebue Sound. Photo: Jim Menard, Alaska Department of Fish & Game.Kotzebue is in the midst of one of its best commercial chum seasons ever. That’s due to an exceptionally strong run size. And dockside economics are playing a role, as well.Download Audio:Seth Kantner has been commercial fishing since the 70s.“We just could not have taken advantage of the number of fish that we’re getting this year without having three buyers. And all the buyers are quicker this year—just, competition.”Not long ago, commercial fishing in Kotzebue was nearly dead. And over the decades, Kantner has seen the fishery in Kotzebue Sound peak and crash.“The 90s things just kept tapering down—less of us fishing, almost where it was embarrassing to say you were fishing, as people thought it was a waste of time. At that point the prices just kept going to 25, 23, and 19, 17 [cents a pound], and a lot of those years there weren’t that many fish, either.”In 2002, with no local buyer, Kantner recalls having to pack and ship fish out himself. The total value of the fishery that year was just $7,572.This year the commercial fleet is expected to pull in about $3 million. That, according to Nate Kotch, vice president of Maniilaq, is partly biology from a good brood year, but also the payoff from a five year branding campaign at food expos in Asia, Europe, and on the East Coast:“These fish are being marketed. And the brand that we have, of course, is Arctic Circle Wild Salmon.”Kotch and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game anticipate another two weeks or so of commercial openings that are likely to push this year’s harvest up to the third best on record.
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREOregon Ducks football players get stuck on Disney ride during Rose Bowl eventBut Villaraigosa said he included parents on an advisory committee created to recommend improvements and he considers their comments sufficient. “This is just the start of the process and we will be meeting with everyone to get their input,” Villaraigosa said. The parent groups, educators and district officials were among those reacting to a draft proposal for restructuring the district, placing it under mayoral control and breaking it into 80 mini-districts. School board member Jon Lauritzen said he’s disappointed that the mayor not only left parents out of the process, but the district as well. “I’m particularly disappointed because we’re so open in what we do with our public meetings,” Lauritzen said. “It makes us feel doubly left out when the process is behind closed doors and looks like special interests are driving things rather than public need and public desire.” Several parent groups lashed out Friday at Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s proposal to take over Los Angeles Unified School District, holding a news conference on the steps of City Hall to complain they weren’t consulted. The Los Angeles Tenth District PTSA joined with representatives of other parents groups in saying the mayor’s office had ignored their repeated requests for a meeting. “Here we are on the steps of City Hall – a bunch of parents – raising our concerns because we, the stakeholders in LAUSD with the biggest investment, are not engaged in the discussion as the city attempts to take over or make over LAUSD,” said Scott Folsom, president of the Tenth District PTSA. “We are not disputing the tentative preliminary draft plan leaked or floated or `run up the flagpole.’ We are arguing that whatever passes for planning has got this far without involving the parents of the children whose futures are at stake.” Villaraigosa’s proposal also touches on the issue of school funding and raises the possibility of asking voters to approve a tax hike. But Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association, noted that voters have approved three school construction bond issues in recent years and questioned whether they’d support another school-related tax. “The taxes are going to be a little bit more difficult, because each successive (construction) bond has gotten fewer votes and it’s our sense that taxpayers are already overtaxed and his belief that city residents are willing to pay for yet another tax may be too optimistic.” But while the plan lays out dozens of reform ideas, Michael Kirst, professor of education at Stanford University, was surprised it didn’t include a greater centralization of authority. “It’s very vague on how the governance system will be changed to enable such a bold reform program. It’s mostly about policy change and not how the governance system is going to be reworked to allow such radical change to take place,” said Kirst, who has testified before the Joint Commission on LAUSD Governance _ which is working to create its own district reform proposal. City Councilman Jose Huizar, a former school board member, said he continues to back mayoral control of the district as the only viable means to improve education for the Los Angeles’ 727,000 public school students. “I think the only way we are going to see the school district decentralized, with the decisions being made locally, is with mayoral control,” Huizar said. “It’s an important first step to changing what is going on over there.” Jaime Regalado, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute at California State University, Los Angeles, said he wondered whether it was part of the mayor’s political strategy. “We’ve seen this before where large ideas are floated and he can retract them later, saying it was never being seriously considered,” Regalado said. “I think he is focused on the issues of controlling the schools. Sometimes, the mayor and his people get ahead of themselves.” firstname.lastname@example.org (818) 713-3722160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!