Alaska Gov. Bill Walker speaks in front of a joint session of the Alaska Legislature during the annual State of the State Address, Jan. 21, 2015. Senate President Kevin Meyer and House Speaker Mike Chenault are seated behind him. (Photo by Skip Gray/Gavel Alaska)
Wednesday night's State of the State address by Governor Bill Walker was as much a pep talk as any thing else to a state facing huge budget deficits. In it, he touted Alaskan's can-do spirit and the many assets we have to work with. One of those is our fisheries.
"And Alaska’s resources aren’t just under our feet—they are also under our boats. Fisheries remain the state’s top employer and we will work with this crucial sector to strengthen sustainable fisheries.
In Alaska, every boat is a small family business."
Walker acknowledged the processing industry's role in keeping our fisheries going, but reminded them that the fish belong to Alaskans first.
"We will work together with the industry to keep boots on the deck and bolster demand across the globe for our high quality products.")We thank all of these industries for the countless jobs they provide and for all of the solid investments they continue to make in Alaska’s communities.
My goal is to continue to work with them to further develop these resources.
We will do it on Alaska’s time frame and follow the constitutional mandate to develop them for the maximum use and benefit to Alaskans."
During his speech, Walker said the state itself needed to "Buy Alaskan," including when it comes to the science and training necessary to maintain our fisheries.
"The Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute here in Juneau serves as a leading authority on fisheries management.
The Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center serves the State of Alaska through research, education and training activities. These are fundamental to marine science, the competitiveness of the Alaska seafood industry and in meeting important workforce needs."
A strong proponent of local hire, Walker said he intends his policies to promote putting Alaskans to work first.