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Stephen Taufen
A public watchdog and advocate for fishermen and their coastal communities. Taufen is an "insider" who blew the whistle on the international profit laundering between global affiliates of North Pacific seafood companies, who use illicit accounting to deny the USA the proper taxes on seafood trade. The same practices are used to lower ex-vessel prices to the fleets, and to bleed monies from our regional economy.

May 5th

DOJ Puts Pitchfork in Merger Cake

Congratulations, your groundswell of efforts pointed out how the proposed Trident & Ocean Beauty merger would be anticompetitive. The Antitrust division turned its spotlights on high, and found at a minimum that the merger was "not o.k.," then stuck its pitchfork into the merger cake. Could it be any clearer that in a desperate move to stop further investigation, Trident quickly blew out the candles and slithered back into the shadows?

Revealing its lack of public relations common sense, under the speed and fright with which they ran for cover, it was the misnamed "United Salmon Association" of Kodiak who got called upon to minimize the fleets' true concerns by spewing weak, gray lies. How could anyone at Kodiak not know how controversial the merger was and outraged the fleet became? Were a few racketeer facilitating corporate seiners - just like Kodiak's trawlers - showing how far their heads are also buried in the price-lowering greed scheme? Meanwhile, acting like a couple of Mafioso queens, Ocean Beauty and Trident kissed each other's cheeks and smiled for the cameras.

Believe none of it. You prevailed! At little expense; and just by being a citizen actionist. Activism does work - just as it did with pushing back Senate Bill 113 on "coordinated rationalization." And you've only begun - and the DOJ is still listening.

In a disallowed merger case like this, there will probably be no formal public announcement, in part because the busy Department of Justice merger review team moves on. There is likely to be no look at any divestiture or offsetting issues, at this time - in the framework of a merger proposal alone. But that doesn't mean that it's any safer in the dark for the oligarchs. Crab ratz are still chewing away at our communities. Pollock ratz are growing even larger in the Occupied Territories of Dutch Harbor.

All of you who still want to send in complaints should do so - from now until you turn the lights back on elsewhere at the DOJ. This was just a simple merger review - and only part of the efforts. Price-fixing has a stain of its own; and when the DOJ shed light on the cartel's toilet room, it not only saw the stains, but also saw the Crab Corleones crawling in the sewer of cronyism and corruption. Awareness raised is awareness reborn.

Please keep gathering the facts and evidence and sharing your insights, on all the cartel players, by email at Only this time, please use the following top line, "Re: Anticompetitive Structure and Behavior in the Alaskan Fishing Industry." It will get to the proper desk(s). Write about how Crab Ratz and other problems are devastating your businesses and communities. Keep making the point that this fishery law was not put in place by a democratic process - but rather by a rider in the darkest corner of the greedy shadows. Show them whose fingers are on it.

The public's pitchfork only landed one of its tines, for now. But make no mistake; it was by your hands that this occurred. Congratulations, again. You are the groundswell.

Stephen Taufen - Groundswell Fisheries Movement