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Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Unhappy Crabbers
Maybe "comprehensive rationalization" isn't so rational
Crab plan draws protests from crab coalition

The Associated Press
ANCHORAGE (April 14, 7:15 p.m. ADT) - A final plan to divide up Alaska's crab fisheries, allocating the amount fishermen may harvest and processors may process drew fire Monday from crab fishermen.

"It pits harvester against harvester and there is no room for a competitive price," said Jake Jacobsen, manager of the Alaska Marketing Association. The Seattle-based group, the collective bargaining arm for Bering Sea crab fishermen, is concerned that the plan gives processors too much power to set price.

Arni Thomson, executive director of the Alaska Crab Coalition, said the plan approved April 5 by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, does not protect the market for fishermen. Under that plan, "a processor can argue that he should pay less because his costs are higher," he said.

Dave Benton, council chairman, last week defended the plan as insurance that independent harvesters of crab would have maximum leverage in negotiating with processors.

"We have adopted a whole sweep of community protection measures and measures to insure that the relationship between processors and harvesters lead to fair negotiations for price," Benton said.(more)

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