Ever wonder where imitation crab comes from? Well, Oregon, among other places. Imitation crab is produced from processed fish protein called surimi, which in Oregon is made from a fish called Pacific whiting (also known as hake).

Pacific whiting is our coast's largest fishery and is on the cusp of a sea-change of sort in how it is managed by the federal government, a change that will protect the environment, create jobs and strengthen our coastal economies.

A voracious fish, Pacific whiting eat crab (the real kind), juvenile rockfish, even other whiting. Their flesh is white and soft and requires immediate icing and processing in order to be kept fresh. The abundance of whiting has created a fishery supporting large trawl vessels and some of the biggest seafood processing plants on the West Coast. Large volume means significant dollars for Oregon's coastal communities. The whiting fishery contributes its fair share to our trucking, vessel repair, fuel and fishing supply businesses on the coast, among others.

For too long the whiting fishery has been tangled in red tape. Outdated federal laws and regulations require whiting be a derby fishery. Around June 15 every year, the gun goes off, and fishermen catch as much whiting as they can, and processors jam it through their plants. It's a race to see who can move the most pounds fastest. When the entire whiting quota is used up, the fishery is over.

The derby forces fishermen and seafood processors to rush, which may mean missing key market opportunities and catching fish even when they aren't in their prime shape, which costs money. And, the derbies leave little room to pick and choose areas and times to fish. This hurried pace is not only bad for catching fish, but also puts pressure on other fish species like salmon incidentally caught in the nets. This is known as "bycatch."

Now, there is a solution - Pacific whiting cooperatives. For more than a year, West Coast fishermen and seafood processors have been working together to fix this problem. Whiting cooperatives require fishermen and processors to form partnerships to conduct the fishery in a more rational, less hurried manner. This will allow us to take our time and catch whiting at their peak, better avoid unwanted bycatch of salmon and other species, and ensure the whiting is put into the product form most valuable at market at the time. A similar Alaska fishery has been managed through cooperatives for years now with resounding success; and we should apply the same successful strategy here.

Now it's time for Congress to act. Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith has taken the lead and introduced legislation in Congress authorizing whiting cooperatives. This legislation will offer greater economic opportunities for fishermen, processors and coastal communities. We urge his colleagues in the Oregon Congressional delegation to sign on, for the future of our industry and the fishery resource itself.

TOM LIBBY

Astoria

DAVID JINCKS

Newport

David Jincks is a commercial fishermen from Newport, and president of the Mid-Water Trawlers Cooperative. Tom Libby is corporate manager of Special Projects with California Shellfish Company, which operates Point Adams Packing Company in Hammond.

Police: Do your job

Nice job of ticketing all the drivers who do not stop at crosswalks during your safety enforcement project ("Astoria Police department to conduct pedestrian safety enforcement," The Daily Astorian, Sept. 13) but you only do this every once in awhile.

And you only do 25 percent of your job while cruising every day. How about every person in Clatsop County who jaywalks or runs across the middle of the street defying every motorist? How about those who walk against the traffic signals or walk out from behind buses or from under cars?

How about the bicyclist who rides the wrong way down the street? Or those who ride on the sidewalk, running the stop signs or traffic signals and breaking every law that has been written?

Last, but not least, and definitely the most dangerous of them all - what about our friends who run the red lights? The police could pay the salaries of the whole force if they just parked their cars on four corners of this town and wrote nothing but tickets to cars and trucks who run red lights.

Nice job on the crosswalks, but what about all the rest? Don't just turn your head the other way. Do your job. Make everybody unhappy.

JIM VAN ARSDALL

Astoria

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