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. Contact Stephen Taufen
May 18thIn MSA's LAPPs: Taxation Without Representation
It's bad enough that the greater body of Gulf of Alaska stakeholders have faced exclusions and other policy-making machinations for years; but, for politicians to join in by taxing the fleets without representation crosses another line altogether.
And they have the gall to put it in an Act with the word "American" in its title! That's on top of insulting grandfather clauses that protect cartels already formed. But whatever version of Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) is passed, including any tax computed on falsified values (profit-laundered figures) is certain to call attention once again to Abusive Transfer Pricing (ATP) formulas and accounting tricks. (It's the same problem in the current political fight over oil and gas taxes in Alaska.)
Worse yet, they add a constitutional protections breaking insult by giving New England fishers a two-thirds referenda threshold before any LAP proposal can make it to a petition put forth to the Secretary. Has the Equality Clause or Equal Protection no meaning to the Congress? Why can't Kodiak or Sand Point fishermen have similar rights in a national fish bill? Need we ask, Ted.
In the Gulf of Alaska, a "closed-class processors plus shoreside draggers" group of carpetbaggers and unapologetic swindlers has worked since at least 1999 to undercut the rights of the larger fleets, communities and natives. Absent processor quota shares, they now covet "limited access privilege programs" (LAPPs) and made sure politicians wrote them into the MSA bills. In typical double-clip-ya fashion, you're going to pay for it, and along the way, you'll also pay its costs on the processor level again.
And like the Red Queen put it to the insiders massed last fall at PME, (paraphrased) "you can form an RFA or Fishing Community group, request an LAP program be developed, get it implemented, and after a year, it becomes a harvesting right to you." Skip the code. Some processor is going to end up significantly controlling harvesting rights quotas in your species. That's what the NPFMC clearly wants from the vaguely worded Regional Fisheries Association scheme outlined in the new MSA.
What's Moore, it is wanted for the West Coast, too. That's the true meaning of "limited access" and "I swear on the record" that you'll find it in the lobbyists' dictionary.
Have they still not heard of the Government Accountability Office's report this year on how poorly the Councils deal with the Public? It discredited the principle-less stakeholder input process altogether. Have they also not learned that there was a major seafood merger recently called off after a successful investigation by the Antitrust authorities? We ought to put some requirements in the MSA that this situation be improved before any more Amendments or LAPP dances occur anywhere in this Nation.
We shouldn't forget to tell you the most power-full part: any regional Council can develop a LAPP at any time "on its own discretion." No kidding. All the talk about RFAs, Fishing Communities, petitioning the Secretary etc. aside, the powers are to be handed nearly carte blanche to the regional Councils. And any petition on the other items travels back through the Council's powers, too.
How did this greedy mess happen if these fisheries are supposed to be public resources and regional councils are alleged icons of getting things right? Were there regular MSA Reauthorization meetings at each of the Council's meetings over the past several years where the public was invited to comment, and engage in a two-way dialogue to work things out, or not? Who'd notice if there weren't.
Well, for those who attended last year's Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission meetings where Ben Stevens' buddy Brad Gilman and firm led the lobbyist controlled show, you knew that even delegates from the five states were put off by Ted Stevens' orders from above. Every significant body and governor's office has been covered with lots of extra padding tucked and rolled into its back room coffers, it appears.
Little wonder there is no Public in the land of fisheries, Alice.
Tri-agra is "Like A Palooka's Punch"
Here's the general introductory language for LAPP dances from the House version (Pombo_179.XML, March 28, 2006). It is known as the "American Fisheries Management and Marine Life Enhancement Act" (AFM&MLEA), or whatever name Alaska has for whichever version passes Ted's desk. So let's just enter it in our which politician is in who's pocket dictionary as 'Tri-agra', for short.
"'7.(a) IN GENERAL - Title III (16 U.S.C. 1851 et seq.) is amended by (1) striking '303(d); and (2) inserting after '303 the following:Groundswell will put together a PDF guide for you when we get a look at the working draft changes. Hopefully soon.
"Sec. 303A. LIMITED ACCESS PRIVILEGE PROGRAMS. These LAP programs create no right, title or interest; and it is a Permit that may be Revoked, Limited, or Modified at any time; shall not confer any right of compensation; not ~ before fish is harvested; and shall be considered a "Grant of Permission' to engage in activities permitted."
With gut shots, the pugilist racketeers have also made sure that Don Young, Richard Pombo and others have inserted the following Grandfather clauses and other corking, like this:
"(h) EFFECT ON CERTAIN EXISTING SHARES & PROGRAMS -- "nothing in this Act, or the Amendments made by the [AFM&MLEA], shall be construed to require a reallocation of individual quota shares, fish processor quota shares, cooperative programs, or other quota programs, including sector allocation, under development or submitted by a Council or approved by the Secretary or by Congressional action before the date of enactment of the .". "Warning, side effects of Tri-Agra include puking over the rail even in apparent calm seas.
One senator's office thought the grandfather language had received a lot of criticism and been changed by the House Resource staffers and other backdoor artists in DC. We heard that the Gulf Grandfather Ratz had been shot down in the workout corral (in the secret rooms of the committee), but aren't sure about the Pollock or Old Crabby ones. And there's not one word of protection for crewmen who spent decades making boat owners rich off their efforts i.e. where's some real grandfathering protection, some real history?
Hey, not even an on-the-topic senator's staff could get us a copy of that working draft before this week's hearing, and likely not soon. We saw no discussion of this in all the enviro-media babble after the meeting. Take no confirmation from us, as we're out here with you pushing water uphill against the cabal's lobbyists and their inside-the-pocket politicians.
Fees Be Taxes on You:
So, let's turn our attentions to new options under Limited Access Systems (LAS fisheries), like the issue of costs of the proposed LAP Program management and enforcement schemes after all, it's at your expense. Here's a nutshell version:
"'7.(b) FEES - Section 304(d)(2) (16 U.S.C. 1854 (d)(2) ) is amended by (1,2) redesignating subparagraphs, (3) striking "(2)(A)" inserting the following:A "Highfalutin Tax Multiplicand":
"(2)(A) Notwithstanding paragraph 1, the Secretary shall collect a fee from a person that holds or transfers an individual quota issued under a Limited Access System established under '303(b)(6) fees... and '9701(b) of Title 31 U.S.C.
"(B) ... (i) initial allocation = 1% of the ex-vessel value of fish authorized in one year under an individual quota, ... collected from the person to whom ... first issued...
(ii) annual fee not to exceed 3% of ex-vessel value of fish authorized each year ... from the holder of the IQ share...
(iii) transfer fee = 1% of ex-vessel value of fish authorized each year, collected from a person who permanently transfers the IQS to another person.
"(C) ... commensurate with cost of managing the fishery... incl. reasonable salaries, data analysis, ... and enforcement.
"(D) The Secretary, in consultation with the Councils, shall promulgate regulations prescribing the method of determining under this paragraph the ex-vessel value of fish authorized under an individual quota share, the amount of fees, and the method of collecting fees.
"(E) Fees collected shall be an offsetting allocation... and only for the purposes of administering and implementing this Act with respect to that fishery."
Someone said the total value of GOA catches was around $360 million annually, but that likely included all species, salmon too. Table F-9 in the September 2005 EA/IRFA document shows for the "preferred" or proposed Alternative #2, that CP Gross revenues in 2006 are estimated at $42 million, CV at $100 mm, and Shoreside at $99 mm, totaling $242 million. Hard to nail down the ex-vessel side, but it approximates $125 mm. But then again, there should be a correction for transfer pricing abuse discounting, and the future is full of rockfish and potential for huge ex-vessel values, if fairness prevails.
And there is talk about taxing on first wholesale, not ex-vessel. But the concerns will remain the same because it all will come out of the same old leatherbacks: i.e. the fishers' ticket hides. That's because processors never really "invested" anything except monies that they stole by paying you nickels and dimes instead of quarters and dollars. Well, god bless, they had churches to build and islands to purchase and wanted to-golf-stream jets. A commune's director has to have some perks or this ain't soviet enough.
So let's just tie a Republican number up to the dock say $300 million a year. (I know you are way ahead of me already!) Let's call IT the "Highfalutin Tax Multiplicand" or HTM. So with a Saganite "point three billion' or so HTM (as in "Heck, Tax Me" I'm just a complaining fisherman; or "Hate to Mention" but we're gonna make you pay for IT.), what's that make the astronomical cost of your heretofore apathy?
Your GOA Share of LAPP Taxes Without Representation "bill" = $3 million to $10 million each year.Are you other national fishermen awake now? You really want Ratz, too?
Darned highfalutin indeed, for old Ted, Don, Ritchie and NOAA to consider that "constituents" like you actually want these LAPPs that substitute for the hole-full Processor Quotas that the closed-class AFA giants couldn't politically float long enough to reach Pombo's boathouse dock. Damned highfalutin to think that you want to be taxed on it, but they are your "representation". Turn down the lights and put on the disco music as they strip your wallets first on the high-heeled platforms of stage show politics.
Fighting off Draggoteers:
Oops, we almost forgot that Al Burch of Alaska Draggers bragged in the February meeting of the AP that he'd visited/talked with Pombo. Remarkable access, gosh we were mightily impressed! But (behold the underlying truth) was this one of the white elephants they were riding into the LAPP arena? Drag pink of you, comrades!
So are congratulations in order? That's the price you'll have to pay for sitting on your captains chairs and letting the Draggoteers and politicians make these decisions for you. Wouldn't it have been (cri'key mate, 'ere 'ee goes with that hindsight lecture ag'in!) a lot cheaper to pool some crew, skipper, and other funds together years ago to fight for a two-way dialogue and forward some real stakeholder input? Or pay to fight MSA Reauthorization during the past year, and on into the rest of its rising crescendo?
Thankfully, a few Kodiak fishers are in DC this week doing just that. We hope they publish what they found out while fighting the Draggoteers propaganda "Wurlitzer", after they return.
But for Groundswell, the issue is going to be (always!) the determination of those Ex-Vessel or "First Wholesale" prices or whatever Highfalutin Tax Multiplicand they come up with in Ted's Senate mansion. After the FBI gets through checking the Fairbanks furniture for quarters left behind by former live-in aides.
Groundswell could go on about ATP relative to this new valuation language from effects on domestic to international product laundering of hiding profits, to how a conflicted Council could rig the whole darned set of books by promulgating some phony system of determining real values, to how it is Treasury's job, not the numskull Councils' but let's cut to the chase and start off with a suggestion of some language to consider politically jawing over.
We can come back later and discuss how wonderful it is going to be for Groundswell to start getting Matulich-clock time at future Council meetings to pontificate (but in this case, speak truth to power!) on Transfer Pricing abuse mechanics, so they can properly promulgate a methodology to tax you via post partum representation. Open a can of Will Rogers chaw. It's "git-down" time.
Short (non-nutshell) version of language needed in the MSA in place of Section 7's LAPPs:
"'7 As Children, You Heard It In Kindergarten. Don't Cheat, Don't Steal, Don't Make Policy Without Full Representation. Be Cooperative With Your Parents, As a Business or Institution Is Not Your Family. Remove All Oligopsonist Buyer and Oligarchic Seller Provisions and Restore Ex-Vessel Pricing Based On Arm's Length Standards of a Free Market. Pick Up Your Toys and Go Home, Economic Professors. Go To the Doctor When You Know You Are Crazed With Greed and Get Some Medicine. The Inherent Rights in the United States Belong To The People, Not Corporations. Processor Quotas Violate the WTO and Must Be Removed. And Don't Tax Harvesters Without Representation!"
Now that's an improvement that should allow the Bill to pass by Congress like a flying fish.
Stephen Taufen - Groundswell Fisheries Movement