In Alaska, fisheries are abundant and healthy

Your Dec. 11 editorial, "Happy fish," was on the mark about recent congressional action to update the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the nation's main fishing law. It's good news that the new law tips the balance toward science in setting catch quotas and cracks down on illegal pirate fishing.

But in referring to the "long, awkward dance" between reliance on scientific data and political desires to retain fishing jobs, your editorial ignores those who have taken the lead.

In Alaska, where over half the nation's seafood is caught, fishermen and fishery managers listen to scientists and stay within catch limits. Our fisheries are healthy, abundant, and not a single stock is overfished. Extensive swaths of ocean floor have been closed to protect corals and essential habitat. By taking such steps, the "Alaska Model" is widely recognized as successful fishery management.

It wasn't the cartoon movie, "Happy Feet," that prompted Congress to action. It took responsible fishermen and processors who understand the need for sustainability; professional fishery managers who pursue the science needed to achieve that goal; and the indomitable leadership of Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens (R) who insisted that Congress act now rather than postpone efforts to protect our nation's fish stocks.
David Benton
Executive director, Marine Conservation Alliance
Juneau, Alaska

Changing the Magnolia State's image

Regarding the Dec. 12 article, "A bid to buff Mississippi's image": I am originally from northern Wisconsin and moved to Mississippi for a job. I have been here for more than 15 years and don't intend to leave anytime soon. If you look around the Jackson, Miss., area you will find enough people from Michigan to make up a suburb of Detroit. I was pleasantly surprised to find Mississippi to be a nice place to live and to discover that all of my friends who were born and brought up in the Magnolia State are well educated.

I think Mississippi is the USA's best kept secret. It is really a good place to live, and I don't believe I am the only Yankee who thinks that way.
Patricia Kokke
Brandon, Miss.

Regarding the Dec. 12 article about Mississippi's image: While ad executive Rick Looser's efforts to improve the public image of his state are laudable, he will not succeed. If Mr. Looser wishes to change the image of Mississippi in the minds of so many throughout the nation, he must begin by advocating for the cleanup of the state's most public images. Mississippi still has a flag that bears the symbol of the Confederacy. And the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) – the reincarnation of the White Citizens Councils that openly worked against desegregation in Mississippi and other locations throughout the South in the 1950s and 1960s – is still active in the state. These images of Mississippi will continue to play out in the national media until Looser and others who wish for change speak out and call for the state to stop perpetuating the racist images of its past.

A poster with the image of African- American writer and Mississippi native Richard Wright does not equal a state's population coming to terms with the horror and inequality so vividly described in Mr. Wright's autobiography, "Black Boy." Looser and his cohorts need to address this image if they want to alter people's view of the Magnolia State.
Shawn Leigh Alexander
New Haven, Conn.

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