It's not uncommon to see some pretty stiff competition for seats on the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.
But this year, the campaigning seems particularly intense.
You might recall our post back in March about how a large industry bloc was thinking of mounting a challenge to Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire's top choice for a council seat, Lori Swanson. The industry group preferred the second name on Gregoire's list of nominees, Craig Cross.
Well, the challenge is on and Cross is getting a major push.
It's up to the U.S. commerce secretary to decide who ultimately gets the seat, and the decision is expected by the end of June.
Deckboss hears reliably that a ranking Commerce Department official, Eric Schwaab, met with the At-sea Processors Association during its recent gathering in Hawaii. The Seattle-based association represents the Bering Sea pollock factory trawl fleet, and its Washington, D.C., lobbyist, Jim Gilmore, has been leading the charge for Cross.
Here's a Gilmore email from a couple of days ago talking about congressional support for Cross, and laying out details for a "letter writing campaign" to the Commerce Department's National Marine Fisheries Service:
From: Jim Gilmore
Sent: Friday, May 25, 2012 8:56 AM
To: 'Kenny Down'; 'robert alverson'; 'Arni Thomson'; 'Mark Gleason'; 'Margaret Hall'; 'Sara Chapman'; 'Brent Paine'; firstname.lastname@example.org; 'Inge Andreassen'; 'Jan Jacobs'; 'Mike Hyde'; 'Dave Benson'; 'Joe Plesha'; 'Doug Christensen'; 'Donna Parker'; 'Mike Breivik'; 'Jim Johnson'; 'John Bundy'; 'Bill Stokes'; 'Neil Rodriguez'
Cc: 'Paxton, Matthew'; 'Theodore Kronmiller'; 'stephanie madsen'; Craig Cross; 'Jeff Bjornstad'; 'Paul MacGregor'
Subject: Craig Cross appt. — letter writing campaign to NMFS
Hello all —
I am advised that to help push Craig Cross' candidacy forward that a letter writing campaign to NOAA/NMFS would be helpful. Letters need to go out today or Tuesday.
For the organizations on this distribution list, can you please get as many of your members as possible to reiterate their support for Craig? One hundred letters should be our goal.
As you know, Craig has secured the support of Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, as well as Congressmen Rick Larsen and Jim McDermott. We hope to get one or two more Congressional endorsements, as well, but we need grassroots support, too. And a grassroots campaign could make it easier to land more Congressional endorsements.
The A80 fleet has responded to the Congressional endorsements with an aggressive letter writing campaign. We have provided NOAA/NMFS with the two dozen attached letters of support for Craig, many letters written by you to Governor Gregoire. You can use them as a model for letters to NOAA/NMFS. I also suggest that you note the broad range of support for Craig within the industry as I believe most of the letters for Lori are from the A80 fleet.
1. Address letters to Sam Rauch, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries, NOAA Fisheries, 1315 East West Hwy., Silver Spring, MD 20910.
2. Email the letter to Bill Chappell at William.Chappell@noaa.gov. He is handling the nominations within NMFS HQ.
3. Please copy the following staff in the WA delegation: Shawn_Bills@murray.senate.gov; Nicole_Teutschel@cantwell.senate.gov; Paul.Hoover@mail.house.gov; Alan.Lee@mail.house.gov; Matt.Bormet@mail.house.gov. (Those are the staffers for Murray, Cantwell, Adam Smith, McDermott, and Larsen, respectively.)
4. If you can have folks blind copy me at email@example.com, that will help us keep a library of these support letters.
Thanks to all for your continued support for Craig.
Director of Public Affairs
At-sea Processors Association
Cross is director of government affairs and business development for Aleutian Spray Fisheries. One of Aleutian Spray's vessels, the factory trawler Starbound, is a member of the At-sea Processors Association. Aleutian Spray also has other boats including freezer longliners, which broadens industry support for Cross.
The "A80 fleet" mentioned in the email refers to flatfish trawlers, known as the Amendment 80 fleet, that Swanson represents. This is a relatively narrow segment of the Alaska industry.
Evidently, the Swanson camp likewise is campaigning very hard to reel in the council seat.
A similar competition is developing over an Alaska seat now held by Dan Hull, an Anchorage resident who fishes commercially for halibut and salmon out of Cordova.
Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell in March nominated Hull for a new term on the council.
But Hull supporters are concerned that the Commerce Department might reject Hull and instead choose another, lower name on Parnell's list. That would be Tim Evers of Ninilchik, a longtime boat charter operator.
That's disconcerting to commercial interests who don't want to see more sportfish representation on the council.
Deckboss acquired this recent action alert exhorting Hull supporters to put in a good word for him:
SITUATION. Gov Parnell has nominated Dan Hull (Longliner and gillnetter) and Ed Dersham (Sport) for reappointment to the NPFMC. The Secretary of Commence will make a decision soon and will announce appointments by the end of June.
We understand that there is an effort underway to get the Secretary to appoint a retired charter operator to replace Dan Hull on the council. This would give the charter sector two of eleven voting seats on the Council, which is out of proportion to the single charter issue before the council — halibut charter allocation.
ACTION. If you see Senator Begich, Senator Murkowski, or Congressman Young in Alaska over the Memorial Day recess, please make these points. Senator Begich will be in Petersburg Sunday (May 27).
By June 2, please send a short message via email to the Secretary of Commerce and copy the NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco and the Congressional Delegation (email below). Personalizing the message will make it stronger.