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Read and Heed. Implementation of New Requirements for Commercial Fishing Vessels (12/1). Mandatory examinations and survival craft requirements
What: USAG Port Meeting
When: Thursday Feb 5, 2015. 5-6PM
Where: DIPAC Conference Room
Purpose. Jim Becker is stepping down as the President of the Juneau Chapter and we need to elect a new President. If you would like to run for office, please contact the Executive Director ASAP. Only members whose dues are current may vote. We will also discuss the upcoming Board of Fisheries meeting in Sitka Feb 23 – March 3; and deep draft tracklines in Lynn Canal and Stephens Passage.
The Alaska Fisheries Report (12/15) Coming up this week, President Barack Obama issued an historic executive order Tuesday that excludes the outer continental shelf of Bristol Bay from oil and gas exploration, thereby protecting vital seafood habitat. Also: How salmon may respond to climate change and a summary of the board of fisheries recent meeting in Cordova, coming up, on the Alaska Fisheries Report. We had help from APRN’s Liz Ruskin in Washington D.C., KDLG’s Dave Bendinger in Dillingham, KCHU’s Marcia Lynn in Valdez and CoastAlaska’s Ed Schoenfeld
BOF head Johnstone resigns (1/20). Chairman was told by Gov. Bill Walker that he was being replaced. Alaska Board of Fisheries Chairman Karl Johnstone resigned Tuesday, and a longtime Cook Inlet commercial fisheries advocate has been nominated to replace him.
Gov. Bill Walker named Roland Maw, of Kasilof, to the fish board after calling Johnstone to express his disappointment with the board’s lack of public process during a recent meeting to vet candidates for commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, according to documents released by Walker’s administration.
Johnstone’s resignation is effective Jan. 27. If confirmed by the Legislature, Maw’s term will end in 2018. Maw would be the first Cook Inlet commercial fisherman to serve on the board since 1980. More
Joint board rejects 3 commissioner applicants; only Cotten advances (1/14). Gov. Bill Walker’s temporary appointee to head the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Sam Cotten, took a big step toward keeping the job permanently following a vetting by the joint boards of fish and game Wednesday morning in Juneau.
Of four candidates, Cotten was only one who the board chose to interview, and they voted unanimously to submit his name to Walker for consideration. More
House speaker, governor voice displeasure with rejection of commissioner candidate (1/16). Alaska House Speaker Mike Chenault and Gov. Bill Walker said Friday they were unhappy with a state Board of Fisheries decision to dismiss one of the candidates to lead the Department of Fish and Game before he’d been interviewed.
The Fish Board, in concert with the state Game Board, on Wednesday rejected three of four candidates who applied to be Fish and Game commissioner — all except for Sam Cotten, who Walker named as a temporary commissioner when he was sworn into the governor’s office in December.
One of the rejected candidates was Roland Maw, a Kenai Peninsula resident and director of a fishing industry group whose resume said he has a doctorate in forestry and wildlife management. While the Game Board voted to interview Maw, who paid for his own trip to appear in-person at a Juneau meeting, the Fish Board unanimously voted against him without discussion, and afterward, chair Karl Johnstone declined to explain why. More
Walker moves ahead on state shake-up, names commissioners and board members (1/20). Gov. Bill Walker continued his remake of state government Tuesday with a string of high-profile appointments and removals of commissioners and appointees who work in fish and game management, the justice system and taxation.
The moves amounted to an especially big shake-up for Alaska fisheries management as Walker made permanent his temporary choice of Sam Cotten for commissioner of fish and game, and said he’d appoint an antagonist of the state fish board to a vacancy created by the sudden resignation of the board’s chair. More
Hladick to Join Governor’s Cabinet (1/20). After 14 years as Unalaska’s city manager, Chris Hladick is leaving to join the cabinet of Gov. Bill Walker.
Hladick was appointed as the new commissioner for the department of commerce, community and economic development on Tuesday.
It’s a wide-ranging job that regulates everything from alcohol — and now, legal marijuana — to consumer energy projects. More
Habitat Director Out, As Walker Administration Shifts Approach To Permitting (1/12). The Habitat Division was all set to release its first batch of revisions in December. They were overhauling plans for the McNeil River refuge, a popular grizzly viewing destination, and for Potter Marsh in Anchorage and the Mendenhall Wetlands in Juneau. But when Republican Sean Parnell lost his reelection bid for governor, all of that was put on hold.
The new Fish and Game commissioner, Sam Cotten, says there were concerns that the management overhaul would reduce the level of public involvement. He says he wants Alaskans to have a greater role in land management decisions. More/APRN Audio
Former ADF&G Commissioner Cora Campbell takes top job at Siu Alaska Corporation
(1/12). Siu Alaska Corporation (Siu) announces that former ADF&G Commissioner Cora Campbell has been selected and hired as its new Chief Executive Officer. Campbell will replace retiring CEO John Eckels who has led Siu from its beginnings six years ago. More
ADFG Appoints Deputy Commissioner (1/13). Acting Commissioner Sam Cotten is pleased to announce the appointment of Charles O. Swanton as Deputy Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Swanton has been Director of the Division of Sport Fish since 2007. Governor Walker has also nominated Mr. Swanton as the State of Alaska’s Commissioner for the Pacific Salmon Commission, which is a presidential appointment. More Fish and Game Sportfish director gets a new job (1/13)
Transition committees release recommendations for Alaska’s future (1/20). The administration of new Alaska Gov. Bill Walker released 17 transition reports Tuesday, packed with proposed priorities for the governor’s four-year term. The recommendations deal with everything from how to manage state savings to tribal governance and paying the unfunded debts of the state’s retirement systems.
The recommendations, from 17 different committees, may provide a preview of some of the subjects Walker will touch on his first State of the State and State of the Budget speeches he’ll deliver Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
The reports, available online here, took shape during a weekend session in Anchorage on Nov. 22-23 that brought together more than 250 people from across the state, meeting in small groups to try and reach consensus on the most important tasks facing the new administration. Some of the goals are specific. Others are general statements of philosophy. More
Medred fell overboard accusing commercial fishermen of not contributing (1/19). Craig Medred’s Dec. 30, 2014, opinion piece “Oil pays the way while extraction giants like fishing and mining skate” was just more of the deceptive bravado and vindictive rhetoric that appears to be his trademark. I can easily buy into Medred’s first few paragraphs pointing out that Alaskans have not let wisdom get in the way of mitigating inevitable declining oil revenues, but the apples vs. oranges comparison of tax rates, royalties and revenues scapegoat commercial fishing in particular and obscure economic realities while further politicizing complex issues. More
Petersburg’s new drive down dock takes shape (1/20). It was a big milestone Friday for the drive down dock project on the Petersburg waterfront. Tamico, the contracting company building the new dock, lowered a 140-foot transfer bridge into place. That bridge will allow vehicles to drive onto a new 180-foot float still being assembled two miles south of town in Scow Bay. More/KFSK Audio
Alaska writer historian Roppel dies at 76 (1/14). Patricia Roppel, a Wrangell woman who wrote 13 books and more than 100 articles, many about the history of Southeast Alaska, has died.
Her daughter, Cindy Baird, tells The Associated Press that Roppel died of cancer Jan. 6, 2015, in Bellevue, Washington. She was 76.
A Washington state native, Roppel moved to Alaska in 1959. She taught home economics in Ketchikan from 1959 to 1965, the same year she published her first article. More NOTE from Bob King: She wrote the classic book Salmon from Kodiak, a history of Alaska Fish Hatcheries and numerous articles, many on commercial fishing related matters.
Copper River interested in buying Icicle in full (1/15). Copper River Seafoods plans to throw its hat in the ring in the Icicle Seafoods sale process that began this week, as Pacific Seafood Group is also being seen as a frontrunner.
This would bring Icicle’s salmon farms’ original owner Rodger May back to his roots with Smoki Foods and its subsidiary American Gold Seafood, which Icicle, under the ownership of private equity Paine & Partners, acquired from May in 2007 and 2008, respectively.
May, now the second largest shareholder in Copper River and the owner of Northwest Fish Company, said he debating the prospect of returning to the salmon farming business. More
Empire Editorial: King salmon research is worth preserving (1/14). “Alaska’s long-lived monarch — the king salmon — has fallen from its throne.”
Those words were published just over a year ago in this newspaper as part of a multipart series on the demise of the king salmon in Alaska’s oceans and rivers. Researchers, scientists, experts, commercial and sport fishermen, guides, subsistence users and policy-makers all sang a similar tune: Alaska’s king salmon aren’t what they used to be.
It’s our instinct to ask “Why?” More
Sitka processor sells ownership stake to Starkist (1/15). Sitka-based Silver Bay Seafoods has sold a twelve percent stake to Dongwon, the Korean owners of Starkist Tuna.
The news of the sale has been public since November, but Silver Bay CEO Rich Riggs added details during a presentation to the Sitka Chamber of Commerce today (Wed 1-14-15). More
Petersburg fishing industry organization hires new director (1/14). A home-grown commercial fisherman is the newest director of Petersburg’s fishing industry organization.
26-year-old Megan O’Neil started work as director of the Petersburg Vessel Owners Association on January 1st. She takes over from Brian Lynch, who stepped down in December after two years on the job. The PVOA has 70 vessel owners and around 30 businesses in its membership. The group advocates for the local commercial fishing fleet on local, state, federal and international fishery management issues. More/KFSK Audio
Strong king numbers outside Sitka boost winter troll catch (1/14). Southeast Alaska salmon trollers are having a strong winter season, thanks to good catches on the outer coast outside of Sitka.
The winter season started October 11th and the catch of Chinook had topped 24,000 fish by the second week in January. Grant Hagerman, Fish and Game’s assistant troll biologist for Southeast, said the catch is almost double last year’s total at the same time. “Looking back it’s the highest fall catch we’ve seen for 20 years, basically, since the 93-94 winter season, so it’s pretty significant,” he said. More
Eyak’s sinking leaves Port Alexander isolated (1/20). Four people and a dog are safe today after being plucked from their sinking boat 16 miles south of Sitka.
(Photo courtesy of Jake Denherder.)
The loss of the fishing tender Eyak is more than a personal loss for captain and boat owner David Castle, who lived aboard the boat with his dog, Olive. For years, the Eyak has been the main way to get mail, fuel and freight to Port Alexander, a small community of 45 people at the southern tip of Baranof Island.
“It means a whole bunch,” said Debra Gifford, Port Alexander’s mayor. “It changes things drastically here having that service available.” More
Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils to Hold Meetings Statewide (1/7). The 10 Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils will meet February through March 2015 to discuss subsistence wildlife issues and review proposals to change Federal subsistence hunting and trapping regulations for 2016-2018, as well as other issues affecting subsistence in their regions. The public is encouraged to participate in these meetings in person or by teleconference. More Note: Most, but not all, are listed in the calendar below.
Murkowski Welcomes New Staff Members to Capitol Hill Office (1/9). Senator Lisa Murkowski today announced a number of new hires to her personal office staff in Washington, D.C. The new hires include Ephraim Froehlich, Garrett Boyle, Phillip Dodd, and U.S. Air Force Major Taona Enriquez; they fill vacancies created by recent departures among her staff. The senator also announced that she is promoting her Legislative Director Kate Williams to become her Deputy Chief of Staff. More
My Turn: Tongass Advisory Committee fails tourism (1/13). The battle over the Tongass continues as the 15-member Tongass Advisory Committee (TAC) prepares for its next meeting Jan. 20 in Juneau. The TAC was created to quickly and locally address the future of the Tongass in response to the 2010 “Transition Framework,” a directive focused on the reality that large-scale clearcut logging of Tongass old growth is unsustainable in the long term. The TAC is supposed to recommend a realistic, economically viable path forward, which according to its charter includes not only timber but “the unique and equally important resource values … (of) tourism, recreation, fishing, [and] subsistence.”
The TAC, however, has only a single commercial fisherman and no representatives from the tourism industry. More
Fish 2.0’s Call to Action for Seafood Entrepreneurs and Investors (1/15). Everybody, it seems, wants their seafood sustainable. That growing demand is spurring investor interest in aquaculture, seafood supply chains and technology solutions that address the shortage of affordable, tasty protein that does not deplete already-stressed fisheries. More
Bipartisan Group Introduce Bills to Ban GE Salmon and Require Product Labeling (1/16). In their continued fight against genetically engineered (GE) fish, this week Alaskan Congressman Don Young and Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA), Walter B. Jones (R-NC), Peter DeFazio (D-OR), and Jared Huffman (D-CA) introduced two pieces of legislation intended to prevent GE fish from making its way onto the nation’s dinner plates and spreading into the nation’s oceans. More
Lawmakers cracking down on seafood imports (1/20). Seafood imports could be facing new, more stringent regulations.
A new food safety bill introduced Tuesday in the Senate would tighten restrictions on foreign seafood that is exported to the U.S. More
Plumeting Exchange Rates Causing Unpredictable Seafood Market (1/20). Plumeting exchange rates are causing unpredictable seafood market trends, reports Kyla Ganton in the Tradex Foods 3-Minute Market Insight. Video
Wal-Mart ratchets up sustainability expectations (1/13). ORLANDO, Fla. — With both Wal-Mart and Whole Foods moving aggressively to measure sustainability of their suppliers, Jeff Dlott believes meeting expectations of buyers can be both a requirement for doing business and a market opportunity for produce marketers.
“Don’t kill the messenger, but sustainability is becoming a requirement in major markets,” said Dlott, president and CEO of SureHarvest, Soquel, Calif., at a workshop at the 2015 Potato Expo on Jan. 8. More
Uncertainty reigns over coming impacts from US Foods-Sysco merger (1/16). The pending merger between Sysco and US Foods — still reportedly on hold over the US Federal Trade Commission’s anti-trust concerns — is causing some confusion in the seafood industry over what to expect.
The merged entity would reportedly have 27% market share, up from the 18% Sysco says it has, but this number seems uncertain now given the possible $5bn asset sell off to Performance Food Group the New York Post reported recently. This, however, has come under scrutiny by the Minnesota attorney general, who questioned whether it would bring the company into anti-trust law compliance. More
Mount Polley mine on track for restart (1/18). Beleaguered Imperial Metals (TSX:III), whose Mount Polley mine in central British Columbia breached a tailings pond last summer, has submitted a plan to restart the copper and gold mine.
Local media outlet the Williams Lake Tribune reported last Thursday that the company has submitted the restart plan to the provincial government, which along with Imperial Metals has faced criticism over the breach that sent millions of cubic metres of water and tailings into local creeks and nearby Quesnel Lake. More
Report into Mount Polley disaster due soon (1/16). We should be seeing the report on the massive Mount Polley tailings pond breach soon.
Energy and Mines minister Bill Bennett says the report will be released to the province and First Nations groups in the Williams Lake area first.
“I am hopeful to release the report to the public very very quickly after that.”
Bennett is insisting that this report will have some teeth. More
Fishing industry could lose up to $41 billion due to climate change (1/16). Climate change is already having a severe impact on the atmosphere and oceans around the world. These changes are also impacting specific economic sectors including the fishing and aquaculture industries. According to a recent report by the European Climate Foundation, the Sustainable Fisheries Partnership and the University of Cambridge, the fishing industry is projected to lose tens-of-billions as the world continues to heat up. More
ADFG launches study on hatchery impacts on wild salmon (1/15). Hatchery salmon and their potential impact on wild populations have been a sticking point in ongoing discussions about seafood sustainability, and a multi-year research project undertaken by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is looking at better understanding the issue.
More than 40 scientists, fishermen, and others interested in the science gathered in Anchorage Dec. 12 for a daylong update on the research progress so far.
ADFG’s study, which is being conducted with the Prince William Sound Science Center, the Sitka Science Center and other contractors, is focused on pink and chum salmon in Prince William Sound and Southeast Alaska. More
Research finds woody debris benefits fish. Adding logs and other woody debris to rivers and streams is one of the oldest and most common measures to improve fish habitat. But debates continue over how much benefit logjams and other wood structures provide for fish and how much wood is natural or needed in a given river system.
A comprehensive research review by scientists from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center provides new clarity on the question. Large wood such as logs and root wads has always played a natural role in most river systems, the review found, and most studies have concluded that wood placed in rivers remains stable, improves habitat conditions and increases fish numbers – particularly for salmon and trout. More
Jan 23. Applications due for federal subsistence RAC’s
Feb 17. Alaska Symphony of Seafood, Juneau, Rockwell Ballroom 6PM
Feb 18-20. UFA Board, Juneau
Feb 23-Mar 3. BOF SE Finfish, Sitka
Mar 11-12. NSRAA Board, Sitka
Mar 13. SSRAA Board, Ketchikan
Mar 17-19. SE RAC, Sitka
Apr 4. DIPAC Board Meeting, Juneau