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October 19, 2021


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Friday, August 27, 2021

Broken Promises – YOU Can Help Tell the Story of the Yukon (VIDEO)

~Filmmaker Dennis Zaki & the Mudflats Moose at the top of the world – Barrow, Alaska. next to the famous whale bone arch.

Mudflatters may remember our friend and filmmaker Dennis Zaki.  We, and other progressive Alaskan blogs raised money to help send Dennis to the Yukon River village of Emmonak. Dennis flew to Emmonak to record a story. It was a story of how the Native people of the area were suffering a very difficult winter. Record cold temperatures froze the Yukon early, keeping scheduled shipments of fuel from reaching their destination. The resulting soaring prices in heating oil that had to be flown in to these remote places meant that families had to decide whether they wanted to feed everyone or keep them warm. For a good recap of how this story went from grassroots to mainstream media in 2009, click HERE.But the bigger story than the fuel entombed in the frozen Yukon was the fact that the people didn’t have enough food or money to make up the difference because of the salmon. The corporate takeover of Alaska’s fisheries affects the most basic survival needs of the families that live along the 1984 mile long Yukon. The way of life that has sustained Alaska’s Native peoples for thousands of years is threatened with extinction.

Large factory ships trawl Alaska’s oceans in search of pollock for use in fish sticks, fast food sandwiches, and fake crab legs. But the nets are not magic. They don’t catch pollock only.  Many unintended creatures get caught with the pollock, and one of those is the Chinook (King) salmon.  But the trawlers are pollock-only boats, even though they catch large numbers (more than half) of all the Chinook salmon destined for the Yukon River.  The term used for anything that is caught in the net that isn’t what you’re fishing for, is “bycatch.”  Bycatch may as well be called garbage, or waste because they are never put to a useful purpose. They are dumped like trash.

And, as a result, there are not enough fish to sustain a commercial fishery that will bring money to the families of the region; there are not enough fish to fulfill the actual subsistence needs of the people; and corporations get rich on the rape of our waters, and a few gazillion filet o’ fish sandwiches.

This tragic story of cultural devastation, wanton waste, and the corporate takeover of a precious natural resource is one of the great untold stories in Alaska. We worry and fret over Sarah Palin’s every move, and things that have far less importance, while a crime takes place under our noses.

Part of the problem has been that the remote area of the Yukon is away from the media spotlight. That’s why Dennis’ trip out there in 2009 made such an impact. His footage was shown on CNN, and reported here and on other online outlets. People saw what was happening. People send money and food to help families who were in conditions of desperate need beyond most of our comprehension. Mudflats readers showed up when it counted.

It’s about to count again.

Since the time we sent him to Emmonak, Dennis has stayed involved in this issue behind the scenes.  His knowledge of fishing issues, and personal contacts in Emmonak has compelled him to marry his knowledge and his skill as a filmmaker to try to create awareness of, and a solution to the issues that plague the Yukon. You can help Dennis get his message, and the message of people who are voiceless out to the world. Dennis is planning to enter the film in major film festivals to maximize the impact of the message.

I know that the Christmas season always leaves us a little tight in the wallet, but when you think about the people that you stepped up to help last winter, that are still facing this issues, it puts things in perspective. I hope you will dig deep to help fund this important project.  Links appear below Dennis’ letter.

Dear Mudflatters,

I’ve come to you to announce my latest film project in Western Alaska.

I’m trying to raise $21,400 to create a documentary about the corporate takeover of Alaska’s fisheries that affects the daily lives of the people that live along the Yukon River.

The Native Alaskans living along the river, are no longer able to support their families with salmon for food or sale, after doing so for thousands of years.

I want to tell their stories to the world via a documentary film.

Politicians in Alaska have been passing the buck on this issue for years.

Alaska progressive bloggers raised money to get me to Emmonak to show the world what was going on in January of 2009.

I have been involved behind the scenes ever since to try to get some action out there. Failed half-term former governor Sarah Palin made promises to Alaska’s Natives that she did not keep. Present governor Sean Parnell has ignored the situation entirely.

For the film I plan to speak to Alaskan politicians, Yukon residents, village leaders, factory trawler operators (if they’ll speak to me), and McDonalds, the primary recipient of Alaska’s pollock.

I’ll also interview former fisheries observers and hear how factory ships fish “off the clock” in the middle of the night and catch thousands of salmon that go unreported as bycatch and are discarded like garbage.

There are some cool awards given to those who donate including DVD’s of the film as soon as it is released.

Help me get this story to the world. You can even donate as little as $1 if that is all you can manage, but of course the more you can help the better.

Thank You,
Dennis Zaki.

Click here to support this important project.

If you want to learn more about the project, visit the website and read about the struggles of these incredibly brave, strong people and how Dennis hopes to bring their story to the world.



55 Responses to “Broken Promises – YOU Can Help Tell the Story of the Yukon (VIDEO)”
  1. bb says:

    From their web page fire fox would not open the video’s. Yet here I could get it. ???

  2. Wait a minute,wasn’t this Dennis guy barred by name and photo from Quityypants first book signing in her home town? If that ‘s the case ,maybe I better figure on a second donation just to dig the spurs in a little deeper in her Highness’ backside. Thanks to all who replied to my original post. You are a fountain of knowledge.

  3. dreamgirl says:

    Off to watch the movie-Trading Places. Merry Newyear!

  4. All I Saw says:

    This is classic Disaster Capitalism, of which Uncle Ted was a master. This legislation was passed after the Exxon Valdez spill when so many were looking the other way.

    Ted had many gifts but economic development was not one of them. He knew how to get appropriations for the State but was a horrible judge of character for who he handpicked to administer them. So much money and time have been wasted or stolen by corrupt interests with his help.

    • Pinwheel says:

      This is an excellent observation. Uncle Ted had made too many friends. Look who he pushed for the leaders of ANCSA corps. Within 20 years, and in some cases sooner, ANCs were declaring bankruptcy. And, for heavens sake, fish management was not his job!!

  5. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign says:

    The shock of tripled bycatch Chinook (king) salmon by the pollock trawlers this year is discussed at Anonymous Bloggers:

    Good science? Good for who? This is more than the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) can decide alone in their “science reigns supreme” vacuum.

  6. dreamgirl says:

    Two years ago I stopped patronizing Sushi restaurants when my friend visited Japan and went to the famous fish market and told me they had Whale sushi, which he tried. I am not vegetarian but I was revolted. Whaling is just not necessary, and to me it is criminal over-harvest/plunder/rape and pillage our lands and seas.

    I’m reminded of one of my favorite movies- “Brazil”, directed by Terry Gilliam- and the mother, her horrid friends and her son go to eat at a fancy restaurant… they look at the menu and the pictures are what we recognize as food… when the “food” arrives it is jello-like molded “foodstuff/matter” on a platter. Man-made almost food-grade slop for the trough.

    Movies to watch if your so inclined: Trading Places and Brazil.

    Peeps, put your hard-earned dollars where your mouths and buying power are. Boycott Sushi restaurants (fake crabmeat and they support over fishing), fishsticks, McDonald , any product the Koch Bro get monies from, etc. Hit ’em where it hurts ’em. Bah Humbug to the Scrooges of this world.

  7. marlys says:

    Hear here!

    We will do what we can now, little $ now, but more will follow at the mid of next month. MP promise.
    More time than money in our humble hut. We will be bringing this to the attention of our nonblog circle.

    Dennis, as always, Outstanding, gettin the pix !
    Wave sez “Hey”

  8. Moose Pucky says:

    Go, Dennis. And kudos to all those who ferret out important truths for others to understand.

    • Bretta says:

      “On trawlers, ALL of the bycatch is wasted. ”

      BY LAW.

      That’s what’s really disgusting.

      • UgaVic says:

        Yes, agreed!!

        We need to start looking at the TOTAL impact and come up with ways to sustain these various fisheries.

        As a species, human, we can figure this out. First step is get the darn corporate $$$ running the show out of controlling it!!

        • Alaska Pi says:

          There is little impetus under current law to look bycatch/ PSC (prohibited species catch ) fully in the face.
          Different fisheries are partitioned off from each other in catch regulations.
          There is no mechanism to weigh effect of one fishery on another.

          Increased observation may help some but it’s still a stopgap.

          “If bycatch could be decreased at no cost, bycatch would be neither a complex nor contentious fishery management problem, and bycatch would simply be eliminated. The bycatch problem is complex, in part, because an action that is taken to reduce the bycatch of one species can increase that of another, or an action that is taken to decrease one type of bycatch mortality can increase another type. It is a contentious issue, in part, because actions to reduce bycatch mortality typically change the distribution of the net benefits from the fisheries.”
          The legal fiction that ITQs and IFQs are private property and that private owners of property are the best stewards of resources is another mongo horsepunky failing in the current scheme.
          You betcha… those private timberland owners NEVER clearcut , ruin streams with silt, damage spawning habitat, and bail for better pickings when done… no, never…
          And no trawler ever makes a run without an observer and dumps bycatch out of sight and fudges their books for bycatch… no, never…

          • Pinwheel says:

            This is very close to the whole of this situation. Thru the “Stevens-Magnusen Act” most was left to resource managers to determine impacts. Lets just see how much Leasa has learned about her constitutents. And her influence as a Senetor from Alaska. And her interest to see that sustainability is a vital interest to the Alaskans who supported her and those who did not. She is such a false choice, but opportunities exist for her to begin to redeem herself. Should she decide to choose oil over life and salmon we shall know.

            She, like Mark Begich and Don Young, are the only representatives we have, regardless our vote. Pressure must be brought to bear to the regulators, and our Alaska Legislature must demand review and intervention. We need to lead on this.

  9. Martha Unalaska Yard Sign says:

    What is it they always say in crime shows? Follow the money…

    Pollock harvest, part of other groundfish harvest, accounted for 1.96 billion dollars in economic value vs. $721,000 in Yukon salmon.

    With these figures in mind, do we really think the whole story is being told? Of course not.

  10. Waay Out West says:

    I can’t afford it this month but did it anyway.

    Thank you for highlighting this issue and showing how to support the project. This feels like the old style canning factories of 100 years ago which trapped salmon so effectively virtually none survived to spawn. They had a lot of waste too if I recall my history correctly.

    Those factories were owned by the same large Seattle corporations who fought statehood so successfully for so long. Feels like the same old song, is it with different singers?

    Perhaps this needs to be publicized from the McDonalds side too.

    • Bretta says:

      I remember working on the white papers 20-some years ago during the early months of the Exxon-Valdez spill response.

      The strategy then was to pull the cannery boat up to the mouth at each spawning river then strip the incoming run.

      Within a few years, as you said, there were no salmon left to harvest in Prince William Sound.

      It’s harder to watch the strippers so far out to sea but the effect, based on smaller and smaller run returns, is apparently the same.

  11. jo says:

    Unfortunately, Dennis is just doing the politics at this point. If he is truly attempting a “journalistic approach” it would be necessary for him to talk to the scientists as well. It sounds like a one sided attempt to explain the Yukon, which is very unfortunate.

    We all want a big bad wolf to blame, and the oceans fisheries cannot be explained by trawlers alone.

    • Martha Unalaska Yard Sign says:

      Unfortunately, the current situation is weighted toward big business, mostly out of state or CDQs gone wild. Giving a voice and a megaphone to the Yukon residents’ side of the issue is unfortunate how, exactly? Yes, I can use unfortunate in every sentence, that’s easy. What isn’t easy is getting out all sides of the issue, and determining whether science, business or life on the Yukon and salmon availability is in the correct balance. Sneering is not welcome at the table.

      • Bretta says:

        Well, said, MUYS, and Happy Yuletide to You and Yours!

        I agree – our policy of allowing bycatch to be wasted is shameful, especially when we have documented impact on our peoples.

      • bubbles says:

        Sneering is not welcome at the table.

        you got that right. when we as citizens don’t have access to information; when we stop listening to what everyday people have to say about their lives and how the needs and wants of the many affect them you can bet the day is coming when no one will listen or care when your story needs to be heard.
        if you believe you can do a better job of communicating the problems of the First People than Mr. Zaki then great the field is wide open. have at it. the more people who tell the story the better. maybe you will come at it from an entirely different perspective. however you do it no one on the ‘flats will be ‘sneering’ at you. at least not until you complete your work and it can discussed. then we will sneer.

    • UgaVic says:

      I challenge that statement that it ‘is just doing the politics’.

      First off IF anyone thinks the Yukon is the only river system suffering a King/Chinnok loss due to this issue….badly mistaken.

      We also know that halibut and other King fisheries are getting caught up as by-catch, in numbers that are not good. Others have brought this up many times.

      Despite the rating of the pollock industry as ‘sustainable’ I believe there is plenty of sound science to question that. Please do more actual research and you will find that MSC has never turned down an application by an industry to rate it as sustainable.

      There is plenty more to look into before I feel that statement can be made about it being ‘politics’.

      That the pollock trawling is the ONLY cause is not something I believe Dennis has ever made as a statement, or most others that are fighting this fight, BUT it is something we can do something about.

      The industry claimed they could develop various ways to avoid by-catch if given the chance. They claimed they were already well into using that technology…well guess what …this year the by-catch has more than tripled. We now are having issues in areas not historically an issue.

      This issue needs to be brought to a wider audience…..and let’s trust Dennis to do a good job.

      • Alaska Pi says:

        There is the further issue of what constitutes politics and science.
        At it’s very core, politics is the work and /or the business of the people.
        Science is a human activity, which when conducted carefully and subjected to rigorous review , provides us with information about the world we live in.
        The idea that one or the other is of more value than the other or less prone to problems than the other is silly.
        One of the problems addressed politically in the PSC recently was the tendency for Canadian and American scientists studying similar things kept coming up with opposing findings… more in tune with their national outlook than with “pure” science.
        At a very important level a social science, economics, is at the root of many of the issues facing us. Law which formed EEZs and the subsequent approach to ocean fisheries has had barely a backward glance by most Americans but affects all coastal communities .
        While there may or may not be compelling arguments about acidification and oscillation being major players in the declining salmon fisheries , it is what we do which we can change.
        A serious look is called for :


        Abdicating Responsibility:
        The Deceits of Fisheries Policy

        It IS the business of the people to listen and adjust for issues policies ill conceived and constructed rain down on ourselves… and our neighbors.
        This is the most basic and humane sense of politics.
        Go Dennis!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • Martha Unalaska Yard Sign says:

          Exactly right.

          Politics at its absolute simplest concept is “the art or science concerned with guiding or influencing governmental policy”.

          Since it is the State and Federal governments which determine which science is used and how it is applied to resource fisheries, when would commercial / subsistence fishing ever be considered not to be political? Duh.

    • Waay Out West says:

      Call me dim if you want but I don’t understand. Exactly what is ‘political’ about corporate greed? Corporations don’t care which party those they pay off belong to. Their sole concern is to continue looting our natural resources as long as they last, and when any particular resource is played out they will move on with nary a care about the devastation they leave behind.

      Look at gas fracking and mountaintop removal mining today and clear cut logging not so long ago in the USA. Worldwide, the devastation in the Amazon and jungles of Indonesia has only lessened by public (ie consumer) concern.

  12. OtterQueen says:

    Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly hate McDonald’s any more than I already do….

  13. Bretta says:

    Thanks, AKM for getting me off my duff. I’ve been looking at the ad for this project on another blog and thinking I’d get a-round-tuit … you all know how that goes.

    But I did it – it was easy because I have the Amazon account already.

    Kickstarter is an interesting idea.

    • Millie says:

      I think it is wonderful this project is being publicized by our main bloggers here in Alaska – IM and Mudflats. Should be a success and badly needed!

  14. BearWoman says:

    Thanks to Dennis, AKM, Anonymous Bloggers and others that are trying to help make a difference in this complicated issue. Funny how easy it is to ignore problems if the story is never told….. Hopefully with Dennis’s project the story will be told and gain national or international attention and large corporations will rethink what they are doing. I know part of the “rationalization” will be that these corporations are employing Alaska Natives, they just don’t tell you it is at low wages when the number of hours worked are figured in and it takes people away from home for 2-3 months at a time or more….

    Thank all you mudpups who are donating! Dennis was worried this project might not get off the ground. With our help, he’ll make it fly!

  15. boodog says:

    Thanks, AKM and Mr. Zaki. Like thatcrowwoman says, this is OUR earth and natural resources, and we all need to help fight for it and the people who live on it.

  16. Susabelle says:

    I have signed on.
    Wishing all the success to this important project.
    Can’t wait to see it completed!

  17. thatcrowwoman says:

    I just pledged to this worthy project, and am sharing the link with my brothers and sisters in the National Education Association’s Alaska Native/American Indian Caucus (and our state and local affiliates).

    One world, folks, from the desecration in the Gulf of Mexico… to the factory trawlers in waters world-wide. One world, OUR world…not the Corporate Citizens United world…OUR world.

    Tikkun Olam Shalom,

    • Zyxomma says:

      I second that emotion! Tikkun Olam Shalom, indeed. My turn to pledge.

      • Zyxomma says:

        OK, I did it. I hope everyone who has the means will back this worthy project, and I hope those without the means pass the information on to those who can.

        Best of luck to Dennis Zaki on this endeavor.

        Thanks, AKM, for keeping us informed.

      • And we also got a reference to Smokey Robinson and the Miracles while you were at it. I’d second that emotion,times three.

    • jimzmum says:

      I pledged also too. Thank you, Dennis. Thank you, AKM.

    • dreamgirl says:

      One world… OUR world! Money really IS the root of all evil. Success should never be at the cost/loss of enviornment – without a healthy eco-system animals, h2o, air, bugs, plants then people will go the way of the DoDo birds. The parasitic Corporations are really a scourge and plague to all life on this beautiful planet.

      • Zyxomma says:

        It was humans who did in the dodo. It is not money, but the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil. Earth First!

        • dreamgirl says:

          Follow the money… I have never seen a fish, bird, chimp/etc, with money. Corporate Greed (human) is a parasitic plague on this planet. It’s endemic as far as I can see.

          Let’s spend our money on products and foods which sustain life, not ruin it.

          To the Dodo, the Platypus and so many of our other lost buddies: I choose my life choices with conscience. My food sources are high on that list.

          Dennis is a special man.

  18. Polarbear says:

    The Aleut fishing families of the Alaska Peninsula and eastern Aleutian Islands have been decimated by these “rationalization” management plans, plans which favor large Seattle fishing corporations. Frankly, the State of Alaska has stood by and done nothing to prevent the economic underpinnings of these families from being stripped away. I think we should work to send Dennis Zaki around the entire coast, community-to-community, to tell this story.

    • UgaVic says:

      You have my vote on that project!! The lack of Alaskan based and run companies, versus out of state is a crime in itself.

      Once you add the ‘rationalization’ program to the damage….our state is not following its own constitution where it basically, to my understanding, says that resources are to be developed for sustainability and the maximum benefit of its citizens.

      Dennis can start with the current project and move to this story.

      There is much to support.

      Please people help Dennis and the citizens of Alaska who are having a hard time being heard have an avenue!!

      • Bretta says:

        “The lack of Alaskan based and run companies, versus out of state is a crime in itself.”

        Seconded that.

        Not to mention big outside corporations like the Koch Brothers, et al, hijacking the elections of the people. And I mean -all- corporations who did big donations to the candidates.

        And the donations they made to wives of, ahem, US Supreme Court Judges, which allowed the vote to allow the Corporations to donate to the candidates of our electoral campaigners.

        “Corporations are made of people,” my ass.

  19. Now you’ve gone and done it again. I would love to send a donation(forget credit card or paypal),it will have to be personal check or money order. Does anyone know if either method is accetable? How about Ak Muckraker,same deal?.

    • BearWoman says:

      Go to the website and click on the “Contact Me” button in the upper right corner. I know Dennis checks messages sent and will send a reply back.

      • Thank you BearWoman for the info. I went to website and clicked on Contact Button,and sent an e-mail. I only hope it is done in time. I don’t have a credit card or Paypal account. I am suspicious of both means of sending money. I don’t want recognition just the satisfaction of knowing we make an honest effort to do the right things in life. I love all my new friends and Mudpups,even if we never meet. Hell I’m 57 and have brothers and sisters I’ve never met,(Just kidding)

    • Bretta says:

      If you have an Amazon account that you pay on by check, you can do the same thing through Kickstarter.

      The Kickstarter link goes to your Amazon account and you pay your usual way.

    • dreamgirl says:

      I feel the same way… I’m going to find out where I can send a check. It seems more secure on my end, even a bit more personal.

      People like Dennis, their actions speak volumes. I’m at a loss for words… stunning man that Dennis.

  20. Alaska Pi says:

    Thank you AKM!
    It’s important for people to remember that the set of laws which regulate trawl fishing are federal and as such are of importance to all Americans.
    There are other serious issues which affect salmon within the 3 mile limit of state waters but the trawl fishery in federal waters has serious effects on multiple fisheries and is done in the name of all of us.
    The people of the Yukon, Norton Sound area, and other places are getting lost in the shuffle as their voices are few.
    Mr Zaki’s proposal to lend a megaphone to them is an important part of trying to deal with what is going on.

  21. London Bridges says:

    Happy Feast of St. Stephen and Boxing Day!

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