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News Highlights: Brutal BOF confirmation process results in denial for Ruffner, personal use bill threatens commercial fisheries, prices not looking good in 2015, BC mines in the news.
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Implementation of New Requirements for Commercial Fishing Vessels (12/1). Mandatory examinations and survival craft requirements
3/13/15 SSRAA Report by Chris Guggenbickler
We just finished two days of meetings in Ketchikan, the first a planning/production meeting where we discussed issues from
Low Unuk Chinook escapement to increases in production at Burnett inlet for summer and fall chum to SSRAA absorbing POWHA responsibilities and releases.
At the full board level on Friday Scott Walker presented the departments position on 7 Unuk Chinook tags recovered mainly during week 25
Neets Bay THA. In an effort to keep the Unuk from reaching triggers of stock of concern we are forced to cut time and area. We passed a motion to cut three days of net effort during week 25, by cutting rotation schedules in half, 12 hours for seine and 24 for gillnet. This is a time period when rotations are at 2/1, just prior to a 1/1 switch. Also the THA will be reduced for net groups from the Chin Point line in to the Bug Island line until the 29th of June. This is The SSRAA board’s recommendation to the Department and no guarantee that the department will be satisfied with these modifications alone.
We applied the $1.5 Million grant from DIPAC towards our revenue goal for Neets Bay, which allowed us to pass a cost recovery need of just over $5 Million from Neets Bay. This Grant allowed us the flexibility to set a 400K troll target of chum in Neets Bay. This will allow more THA opportunity early in the run, and for our cost recovery vessel to stay inside the troll fleet. We passed the same rotational schedules for summer chum after brood and cost recovery as in 2014. If we reach our cost recovery goal and broodstock is assured we will have two days of troll followed by seine and gillnet rotations. As we all know summer chum survivals have been on a lower survival trend recently. Hopefully there will be enough returning adults to allow us to shift the DIPAC grant to fishermen’s holds.
We also set a rotational schedule for the Anita Bay THA. At the recent Board of Fish meeting in Sitka the SEAS/USAG proposal for Anita was passed. This changed the wording for the time period from the beginning of week 31 until the 1st of September. This time period will revert back to 2/1 time ratio for gillnet/seine. In an effort between the user groups to allow some buildup with a condensed time schedule we passed 12 hours of seine (6am-6pm) with a 18 hour break followed by 24 hours gillnet (noon-noon) Please check this years’ rotational calendar for these change.
Recently POWHA is a large topic, and it appears we will most likely at some point (a motion to do so in production/planning tied and failed) absorb the facility, operations and responsibility. We approved an October board meeting on POW to “kick the tires” and this decision will become imminent next winter.
Commentary. Johnstone’s idea for Anchorage seat on Alaska fish board is completely wrong (4/8). Former Alaska Board of Fisheries chairman Karl Johnstone wrote an opinion published by Alaska Dispatch News March 31 that Anchorage was going to be disenfranchised from representation on the BOF. With due respect to the former chair, and acknowledgment that he and members of the BOF give time and hard work to their duties, Johnstone’s commentary misunderstands the Legislature’s policy basis for BOF membership.
Article 8 of Alaska’s Constitution provides that our state’s fish are reserved to the people for common use, and that they are to be used, developed and maintained on a sustained yield basis, subject to preferences among beneficial uses. More
Senate committee questions Fish Board appointee over sportfishing support (4/13). Gov. Bill Walker’s latest nominee for the Alaska Board of Fisheries faced a barrage of critical questions at a hearing Monday over the depth of his support for sportfishing, even as a decision by the Senate majority caucus threw the whole appointment process into limbo.
Robert Ruffner, director of the conservation group Kenai Watershed Forum, has faced criticism from some personal-use dipnetters and sportfishermen from Copper River, the Kenai and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. They’ve accused him of supporting commercial fishing interests instead, and have opposed his appointment to the seven-member board that sets and revises fishing regulations in Alaska. ~~~
Wasilla Republican Sen. Charlie Huggins told Ruffner he wished the board seat still belonged to Karl Johnstone, the retired Anchorage judge who resigned in January after Walker notified him that he wouldn’t be reappointed.~~~
Normally, the Legislature holds a joint confirmation session on appointees regardless of committee action. But on Monday, the Senate majority canceled the joint session, according to a spokesperson. If the Legislature doesn’t meet, the appointments are considered declined, according to a legislative legal opinion. More
Commentary. Sport anglers have good reason to demand fair representation on Board of Fisheries (4/13). By Kevin Delaney. Gov. Bill Walker has nominated Robert Ruffner, executive director of the Kenai Watershed Forum and a resident of Soldotna, to fill a seat on the seven-member Alaska Board of Fisheries. If Mr. Ruffner is confirmed by the Alaska Legislature we will have one member each from Kodiak, Dillingham, Huslia, Petersburg, Soldotna, Fairbanks and Talkeetna, but no representative from the area with the largest population in the state. Serious questions of this nominee are in order given the long dominance of Kenai fishery commercial interests and institutions in Upper Cook Inlet salmon management, often at the expense of sport and personal use anglers in the rest of the Southcentral region. More
Alaska Board of Fish nominee Robert Ruffner makes his case (4/15). OK, we’re all Alaskans and we seem to love a good political fight. We really like to fight about fish. So grab the popcorn for the next round. If you’re following this, then you’ve seen half a dozen editorials, letters to the editor and stories over my nomination to the Alaska Board of Fisheries, all written by someone else. Most recently from an out-of-state individual paid to advance one group’s vision. With a couple days to go before the Legislature makes a decision, you need to hear from the applicant himself. More
Peninsula Clarion Editorial. Legislators responsible for their conduct and their votes (4/23). There was at least a kernel of truth in the Legislature’s debate over Robert Ruffner’s nomination to the Board of Fisheries.
While he couched it in terms of maintaining a balance on the board, Sen. Bill Stoltze made it clear in his comments during the Legislature’s joint session last Sunday that he expects any nominee to that seat to be beholden to sport fishing interests. He went on to characterize Ruffner’s nomination as an attack on Southcentral and personal-use fishermen — nevermind that Ruffner has been a longtime resident of the region and has described himself on the record as an avid personal-use fishery participant. More
AJOC EDITORIAL: Legislature votes for factions over fish (4/22). The mantra “Fish come first” has been exposed as nothing more than a fish tale.
Gov. Bill Walker’s second crack at a Board of Fisheries nominee was defeated April 19 in the Legislature by a 30-29 vote when Robert Ruffner of Soldotna became the latest trophy — though likely not the last — mounted by the Kenai River Sportfishing Association.
Just as it did two years ago to oust board member Vince Webster by an identical 30-29 vote, KRSA engaged in a heavy-handed lobbying effort of distortions and character assassination, this time against a candidate who has devoted his professional career to conservation as the executive director of the Kenai Watershed Forum.
While KRSA claims “Fish come first” in its slick propaganda to mask its true purpose as a guided fishing lobbying group, Ruffner has actually lived that motto. More
GUEST COMMENTARY: Time for Kenai-area community to cut its ties with KRSA (4/22). By Dwight Kramer. Last weekend the Alaska Legislature voted against the confirmation of Soldotna resident Robert Ruffner for a seat on the Board of Fisheries. Robert is well respected locally, in-state and nationally for his work on habitat and clean water issues and their relationship to providing good salmon rearing conditions.
He is also a resource user that participates in the sport and personal use fisheries. With his scientific background he was probably the best qualified applicant this position has seen in a long time. More
AJC. Legislature narrowly rejects Ruffner for Board of Fisheries (4/22). Another Board of Fisheries nominee has fallen victim to the aggressive politics of the Cook Inlet fish wars.
The Legislature voted 30-29 against confirming Gov. Bill Walker’s Board of Fisheries nominee Robert Ruffner during the end of session confirmation hearing on April 19.
Walker nominated Ruffner to the position following the resignation of Karl Johnstone as the board chair and subsequent withdrawal by Roland Maw after criminal charges were filed against him in Montana over receiving resident hunting and fishing licenses. More
Legislature fails to confirm Ruffner to Board of Fisheries (4/19). The Alaska Legislature failed to confirm a Soldotna conservationist for a seat on the Alaska Board of Fisheries.
The confirmation for Gov. Bill Walker’s appointee, Robert Ruffner, was defeated with 29 lawmakers in favor and 30 against, during a joint legislative session on Sunday in Juneau. The board sets fishing regulations for the state and sets allocation in a multi-billion dollar fishing industry. More
Redoubt Reporter. No ‘voice’ for Peninsula on BOF (4/21)
Homer News Seawatch. Ruffner doesn’t win legislative approval (4/22). The support from commercial fishermen and local governments apparently prevented a nominee for the Alaska Board of Fisheries with no commercial fishing experience whatsoever from being confirmed by the Legislature.
The nominee, Robert Ruffner, lost on a 30-29 vote.
The strongest opposition came from Sen. Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak, who spent nearly nine minutes of the 35 minutes of discussion about Ruffner talking not about Ruffner’s lack of qualifications, but about how much unprecedented support Ruffner had. More
Pinks predicted to carry season, again. Taku chinook outlook poor (4/17). In 2013, pink salmon returns in Southeast Alaska broke records, leading commercial fishermen to catch more than 100 million salmon from all five species for the first time ever in the region. Biologists don’t expect this year to be quite as stellar, but pinks, which tend to run in odd year cycles, are expected to carry the year for commercial fishermen once again.
For Southeast Alaska, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game predicts a total harvest of a little more than 1.1 million sockeye, 2.9 million coho, 58 million pinks, and a little less than 9.3 million chum (including 7.4 million hatchery chum) for a total, excluding chinook, of 71.3 million salmon caught in Southeast Alaska. More
Oceans Alaska official optimistic about industry (4/20). Ketchikan-based Oceans Alaska has gone through some transformations over the past few years. It started out as a mariculture research and educational venture, then the nonprofit organization got into the shellfish seed business while still retaining its research focus. Now, though, OceansAlaska is shifting into a fully commercial operation that its new director said should become profitable in the near future. More/KRBD Audio
Banks seek to expand portfolios in stable fishing industry (4/8). The rationalization of federal fisheries has created a healthier environment for Alaska banks to underwrite commercial fishing industry loans.
Alaska’s banks had a healthy 2014 in spite of the nervousness over falling oil prices, spurred by increased consumer market confidence and commercial construction. The five Alaska-based banks together grew their total assets 9.3 percent from $5.4 billion in 2013 to $5.9 billion in 2014. Net income grew a collective 11 percent, from $55 million in 2013 to $61 million in 2014.
Luke Fanning, a loan officer at First National Bank Alaska and commercial fisherman, said the banks have plans to use flush deposit balances to up their game in the fishing world.
“Seafood is the number one employer in Alaska, and banks recognize that, and they’re hungry for loans,” Fanning said. More
Members of the Fishing Industry Discuss How to Find and Educate Workers (4/6). Groups across Alaska want to keep the fishing industry strong and steady and increase the number of people who pursue maritime careers.
Industry sectors and state agencies across the state have compiled the Alaska Maritime Workforce Development Plan, which outlines different approaches to bolstering the industry, including increased training and more education programs. More/KMXT Audio
Personal use priority bill stirs reaction among public (4/8). A pair of bills in the Alaska Legislature would create a hierarchy of importance for Alaska state fisheries, with subsistence at the top and commercial and sport fishing at the bottom.
Senate Bill 42, introduced by Sen. Bill Stoltze, R-Chugiak, and House Bill 110, introduced by Rep. Mark Neuman, R-Big Lake, together titled the “Alaskans-First Fishing Act,” would direct the Board of Fisheries to place restrictions on sport and commercial fisheries before putting restrictions on personal use fisheries when the harvest of a stock or species is limited to achieve an escapement goal.
The focal point for the act’s support and opposition are the popular Upper Cook Inlet personal use salmon fisheries in the Kenai, Kasilof, and Fish Creek rivers that fuel allocation and gear conflict battles in the Board of Fisheries process. More
Voices of the Peninsula: Some Alaskans first, some dead last, and most left out (4/4). By Paul Dale. As both a lifelong Alaskan and commercial fisher, I wanted to share my views on Senate Bill 42, establishing personal use priority in times of salmon shortages. Prime sponsor Senator Bill Stoltze has introduced failed versions of this for seven years, but this session, some legislators are giving it favorable attention. One could ask why such consideration now, when harvests of sockeye salmon in the premier Kenai river dipnet fishery are robust by any measure, and have grown almost every year since its inception. More
Personal use and subsistence fisheries bill meets lukewarm response (4/14). A bill that would require a management priority on subsistence and personal-use fisheries in Alaska did not get priority treatment in the House Fisheries Committee on April 7. The committee heard a presentation on the bill, but Chairwoman Louise Stutes announced from the outset that no testimony would be taken and the bill would be held in committee.
The measure, sponsored by Rep. Mark Neuman, a Republican from Big Lake, requires that subsistence and personal-use fisheries be considered ahead of sport, recreational and commercial fishing interests in times of resource scarcity. More HB110 is a companion bill to SB42 (Sen Stoltze)
Shift of spill response cost from oil industry to Alaskans divides lawmakers (4/8). Alaska legislators are moving to shift some costs for the state’s spill prevention and response program from the oil industry to Alaskans, drawing opposition from both left and right.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to add a “surcharge” of a penny a gallon to the cost of most refined fuels sold in Alaska, though aviation, government and some others are exempted. More
SARDFA director details industry’s challenges (4/9). Southeast Alaska’s dive fisheries are a $15 million industry that operates in what is generally a slow time for other regional commercial fishing. Fishermen who hold dive permits agreed years ago to pay a tax to fund the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s management of the limited-entry fishery. The tax also pays for PSP, water quality and, now, arsenic testing, all run by the Southeast Alaska Regional Dive Fisheries Association. More/KRBD Audio
Petersburg raises short-term harbor fees, sets drive down dock price (4/9). Petersburg’s borough assembly Monday passed an increase in fees for transient and short term moorage in the borough’s three harbors.
The harbor master and harbor board recommended the increase, which is meant to offset increasing costs of maintaining Petersburg’s docks and floats. More
UAF Study Researches the “Graying” of Alaska’s Fisheries (4/15). The aging of the fishing industry is a source of concern to coastal communities and some employers who wonder where they’ll get new workers when their current ones retire. A research project that focuses on Bristol Bay and the Kodiak Archipelago hopes to analyze this issue in an ongoing study, and a researcher from the study will share its progress at a lecture tonight at the Baranov Museum. More
USCG – vessel documentation paperwork (4/16). The US Coast Guard posted a notice reminding stakeholders of their ability to electronically check on the status of their vessel documentation paperwork at the USCG National Vessel Documentation Center (NVDC). Courtesy Bryant’s Maritime Blog
Marine accidents: What went wrong? (4/16). The recently published, amply illustrated “Safer Seas 2014: Lessons Learned from Marine Accident Investigations” includes 23 reports completed last year covering towing and passenger vessels as well as OSVs, tankers and fishing boats. Towing accounted for nine accidents and fishing for five. More
NMFS. Successful conservation efforts recognized in revised ESA Humpback Whale listing (4/20). Reclassification into 14 distinct population segments will provide more tailored management approach. NOAA Fisheries proposed today to reclassify the humpback whale into 14 distinct population segments under the Endangered Species Act, providing a more tailored conservation approach for U.S. fisheries managers. Protection and restoration efforts over the past 40 years have led to an increase in numbers and growth rates for humpback whales in many areas.
The humpback whale is currently listed as endangered throughout its range. The proposed rule finds that ten of those 14 populations do not warrant ESA listing. More
Yereth Rosen. Feds propose overhauling endangered species protections for humpbacks (4/20)
Snake River fall Chinook might come off threatened list (4/22)
Pacific Salmon Commission Feb 2015 Meeting Summary Documents http://www.psc.org/Meetings/2015_PSC_Annual_Meeting_Summary.pdf
USCG Adm. Zukunft: The Man, His Mission (4/8). Adm. Paul F. Zukunft, the 25th commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard has a full plate. Driving sexual assault out of the Coast Guard; Preparing the fleet for operations through the year 2061; Coordinating intel and assets to stem the flow of illegal drugs … they are all on the short list. From his Washington, DC, HQ he shares his vision and mission with Maritime Reporter. More
NIOSH Advises Fishermen on How to ‘Live to be Salty’ (4/8). Falling overboard is the second leading cause of death among commercial fishermen nationwide, and the reason for that, says NIOSH, is not wearing a personal flotation device.
That’s why representatives of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health were back at Comfish 2015 in Kodiak this past week to show off and promote the use of personal flotation devices designed for use in specific fisheries. More
NMFS/USFWS Improving ESA Implementation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (the Services) are working collaboratively to improve the implementation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by considering appropriate changes to our practices, guidance, policies, or regulations to enhance conservation of listed species. The objective of this effort is to ensure that key operational aspects of the ESA are up-to-date, clear, efficient and effective. We are not seeking any changes to the ESA statute because we believe that implementation can be significantly improved through rulemaking and policy formulation. More Regulatory Reform fact sheet
Hometown U: Fishing for salmon consumers in China (4/26). Right about now, Alaskans are digging through the spidery corners of their backyard sheds and garages, pulling out waders and tackle boxes, sweeping leaves off gunnels and hooking up boat trailers.
It’s time to get ready for summer and salmon fishing.
Pardon me for this, but Qiujie “Angie” Zheng has bigger fish to fry. She’ll be setting her hooks in China this summer… for Alaska salmon consumers. More
Standards for organic seafood coming this year, USDA says (4/16). After more than a decade of delays, the government is moving toward allowing the sale of U.S.-raised organic fish and shellfish. But don’t expect it in the grocery store anytime soon.
The Agriculture Department says it will propose standards for the farmed organic fish this year. That means the seafood could be available in as few as two years — but only if USDA moves quickly to complete the rules and seafood companies decide to embrace them. ~~~ Wild fish would not be eligible for the organic label — that would be too difficult to monitor. More
Íslandsbanki Issues United States Seafood Market Report (4/21). Íslandsbanki, an international leader in seafood financing, today released its United States Seafood Market Report at Seafood Expo Global. The report provides insights into key trends and issues shaping the industry in the major seafood regions of the United States: the Atlantic Coast, Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Coast. Highlights of the U.S. report include: More
MSC certified fisheries on track to catch 12 pc of global wild-capture (4/22). The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) today celebrated 15 years of MSC certified seafood and recognised the ‘leaders for living oceans’ that are driving growth and success in the sustainable seafood market.
MSC certified fisheries now catch 8.8 million tonnes of MSC certified seafood per year, accounting for close to 10 per cent of the total global wild-capture. With 255 fisheries certified and over 100 currently in assessment to the MSC Standard, volumes could increase to over 10 million tonnes, representing around 12 per cent of the global wild harvest, in the next 18 months. More
Lower salmon prices may mean more markets (4/8). Too much red and pink salmon could be a blessing in an ugly disguise for 2015.
Industry has a pessimistic outlook for the price of Alaska salmon in 2015, due in large part to one of the largest pink and sockeye salmon run forecasts in 50 years. A healthy U.S. economy is driving a strong dollar, which can harm exports, and key markets have vanished.
Like sinking oil prices, however, the value squeeze could open new domestic market positions as more consumers get a taste of wild-caught Alaska salmon in a market flooded with foreign farmed fish. More
Alaska sockeye salmon glut expected to lower prices (4/9). The price of Alaska sockeye salmon is expected to drop this year as a huge run and leftover cans and frozen fillets from last season cause a glut in supply.
Although fans of the red-fleshed fish may rejoice, the news isn’t good for fishermen in Bristol Bay, the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world. Even without enormous numbers of fish flooding the market, prices are already under pressure. More
Alaska Salmon Producers Decide to Rejoin MSC, All Bristol Bay Sockeye to be MSC Certified (4/10). Virtually all of Alaska’s abundant wild salmon will be harvested under MSC certification as well as the existing RFM certification this summer. The major processors representing more than 70% of Alaskan Wild Salmon who withdrew from the MSC program in 2010, are in discussions with the Marine Stewardship Council and the existing client group to offer MSC certified salmon.
Ocean Beauty, Peter Pan, Trident, Icicle, Alaska General Seafoods, Leader Creek and North Pacific Seafoods, Kwikpak Fisheries LLC, Triad Fisheries and Yukon Gold have joined with Copper River Seafoods, Silver Bay, Double E Foods, 10th & M and some smaller producers to land and process salmon that will be eligible for the Marine Stewardship Council chain of custody certification. More
Fishermen’s News. As Fishery Nears, Salmon Processors Face Certification Issues (4/15)
Facing tough market, salmon processors plan return to certification program (4/15)
Orca Bay Seafoods products get verified as non-GMO (4/8). American seafood processor and distributor Orca Bay Seafoods has recently received verification by the Non-GMO Project as producing products free of genetic modification.
Products verified by the project may bear the seal of verification. Orca Bay received this status for its ahi tuna yellowfin steaks, Alaska cod fillets, Alaska pollock fillets, cod fillets, flounder fillets, haddock fillets, halibut steaks, keta salmon fillets, mahimahi fillets, ocean perch fillets, Pacific salmon fillets, scallops, sockeye salmon fillets, and swordfish steaks. More
Sockeye Salmon on a Downward Spiral (4/14). US – If you are a sockeye buyer then the current market is ideal for any upcoming purchase decisions, reports Rob Reierson in the Tradex Foods 3-Minute Market Insight. Video-3min
Attention Copper River gillnet fisherman! (4/22). A study by the University of Washington aims to assess the unique health risks faced by commercial fishermen. A pilot program aims to assess the overall fitness and unique health risks faced by the Copper River gillnet fleet. The study is being conducted by a team from the University of Washington (UW), including Dr. Debra Cherry, who directs the university’s occupational medicine training program.
“We are looking at the health habits of commercial fishermen before and during the fishing season with a goal of finding ways to help improve their health,” said Cherry. More
Research identifies factors affecting salmon spawning (4/16). Warmer water and smaller run sizes can increase the rates at which salmon spawn away from their home streams, according to a study led by a University of Alaska Fairbanks researcher.
Peter Westley, assistant professor of fisheries at UAF’s School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, and a research team analyzed 17 years worth of migration data for 19 populations of hatchery-produced chinook salmon in the Columbia River. The data showed that climate variables influence straying rates, according to findings published online by the Ecological Society of America. More
NMFS. Humpback Whales: An Endangered Species Act Success Story? Are humpback whales still endangered, or have their populations recovered enough since whaling ended that they can now be taken off the Endangered Species List?
NOAA Fisheries scientists have spent several years researching this question, and their answer is not a simple yes or no. Instead, the Agency identified 14 distinct population segments of humpback whales, 10 of which we identified as not warranted for listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The other four still appear vulnerable to extinction currently or within the foreseeable future and require the continued protection of the ESA. More
DAHLHEIM, M. E., A. N. ZERBINI, J. M. WAITE, and A. S. KENNEDY. 2015. Temporal changes in abundance of harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) inhabiting the inland waters of Southeast Alaska. Fish. Bull., U.S. 113:242-255. (.pdf, 1.73 MB). Online. NOTE: NMFS thinks gillnetters are a possible reason for population decline in the Wrangell/Zarembo area. We are still waiting for the observer report.
What the Pacific ’blob’ can tell us about climate change (4/9). A warm pool in the Pacific Ocean, 300 feet deep and 1,000 miles wide, may not be caused by the recent warming of the planet — but what it’s doing to fish, California and the East Coast may tell us a lot about what’s in store as the ocean continues to heat up. More
WaPo. The Pacific Ocean may have entered a new warm phase — and the consequences could be dramatic (4/10). Two new studies have just hit about the “warm blob” in the northeast Pacific ocean — a 2 degree C or more temperature anomaly that began in the winter of 2013-2014 in the Gulf of Alaska and later expanded. Scientists have been astonished at the extent and especially the long-lasting nature of the warmth, with one NOAA researcher saying, “when you see something like this that’s totally new you have opportunities to learn things you were never expecting.” More
PSP: With new lab, STA takes a gamble on shellfish testing (4/10). Despite the risk of paralytic shellfish poisoning — or PSP — Southeast Alaska has a robust dive fishery that includes geoduck clams. The entire industry hinges on weekly testing results from the Department of Environmental Conservation laboratory in Anchorage.
This scenario could change in the not-too-distant future. In part 1 of our 2-part series, KCAW’s Emily Kwong reported on efforts by Sitka Tribe of Alaska to monitor the waters of Southeast for PSP. In part 2 today, she tracks their plans to launch a commercial testing lab. More/KCAW Audio
JOHNSON, S. W., A. D. NEFF, and M. R. LINDEBERG. 2015. A handy field guide to the nearshore marine fishes of Alaska. U.S. Dep. Commer., NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-AFSC-293, 211 p. (.pdf, 32 MB). Online.
Let’s hear it for chum: The underdog salmon has a serious drive to thrive (4/15). SUBTLETY IS NOT its strong suit. When a brawny chum salmon, free swimming somewhere in the North Pacific, gets a signal from somewhere deep within the gravel of its DNA that it’s time to turn tail toward Seattle to spawn, woe be upon any impediment that might stand in its way. More
- Sockeye overfishing risks salmon future: critics (4/9). Conservationists say federal fishery managers allowed serious overfishing of Fraser River sockeye salmon last summer and too few fish spawned as a result.
And they say a continued policy of allowing overly aggressive commercial fishing threatens to wallop vulnerable salmon runs again this summer. More
My Turn: Disagreements over mining require dialogue (4/12). Like any industrial activity, when it comes to mining there will always be disagreements about where, when and how such activity should take place. That’s why it is important to have an open dialogue so we can work together to understand each other. As part of that dialogue, I want to address a number of items the Juneau Empire raised in its last editorial.
There are not 123 mines in British Columbia. There are currently six coal mines and 10 metal mines in operation in British Columbia and very few of these are in trans-boundary areas. More
SE Tribal council boosts anti-mine campaign (4/16). Southeast Alaska’s Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska is increasing its opposition to mines just across the border in British Columbia.
That’s what central Council President Richard Peterson told delegates during a State of the Tribe address on Wednesday during the council’s annual meeting in Juneau.
He urged delegates to challenge mines on rivers that flow through the region. More
Tahltan vote in favour of mine benefits agreement (4/20). AS much as 40 per cent of the workforce of a newly-opened mine in northwestern B.C. is to be made up of members of the First Nation on whose traditional territory it is located.
And members of the Tahltan Nation are also to be deeply involved in environmental monitoring of the Red Chris copper and gold mine owned by Imperial Metals and located near Iskut on Hwy37 North.
The two conditions are among a series making up an agreement with Imperial that was approved this past weekend by 86.9 per cent of the Tahltan who voted. More
APEGBC Professional Practice Guidelines Respond to Mount Polley Recommendations (4/16). The Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of BC (APEGBC) announced today that work is progressing on a significant element of its action plan to help improve dam safety in BC.
Following the release of the Report on Mount Polley Tailings Storage Facility Breach on January 30, APEGBC initiated work on a key recommendation in the report to develop professional practice guidelines for dam site characterization assessments. The guidelines will outline the standard of care and professional obligations professional engineers and geoscientists must uphold when conducting these assessments, and will define the roles and responsibilities of the various participants and stakeholders involved in this process. More
TRU Announced Funding for Mining Research (4/21). A research project conducted at Thompson Rivers University(TRU) will study ways to improve the strategies to monitor mines and environmental restoration for the 19 mines across British Columbia.
TRU’s Dr. Lauchlan Fraser and Natural Resource Sciences post-doctoral fellow Dr. Heath Garris will be conducting the research funded by Genome BC alongside University of British Columbia’s Dr. Sue Baldwin. More
Red Chris Mine gets closer to full production (4/21). A British Columbia mine upriver from Wrangell and Petersburg is one step closer to full production after reaching a benefits agreement with a First Nation group last weekend.
Red Chris is a copper and gold mine in the Stikine River watershed on the traditional territory of the Tahltan First Nation. Tahltan Central Council members overwhelmingly voted to enter an agreement with Red Chris. It gives them environmental oversight rights, jobs and a share of mine revenue. More
Column: Why mining matters in B.C. (4/21). Mining is a critical industry in B.C., supporting dozens of communities and thousands of families across the province. Although mining takes up a very small portion of B.C.’s land base — less than one per cent — it contributes millions in revenue to help pay for services like health care and education, and employs over 30,000 workers.
Did you know that nearly three million adults in B.C. own smartphones, and each device contains approximately 16 grams of copper and 34 milligrams of gold? There were also more than 7,400 single-family homes built in B.C. in 2014, and each one contains roughly 200 kilograms of copper for everything from wiring to built-in appliances. Since 2012, the Mount Polley Mine on average produced over 14,000 metric tonnes of copper and over 1,100 kilograms of gold per year. More
Off the Beaten Path: Transboundary mining efforts are just another gold rush scam (4/10). The history of gold rushes has no shortage of scams. There’s everything from fake telegraph stations, to the disaster that occurred in Valdez in 1897-1898 when around 4,000 men and women, hoodwinked by steamboat companies advertising a supposed easier route to the Interior, were dropped off in Prince William Sound. In the ensuing months the would-be prospectors tried to reach the Klondike via a route over the Valdez Glacier. Suffering scurvy and other deprivations, many died. Several claimed there was an ice demon on the glacier that was tormenting and killing them. Few, if any, ever made it the gold fields. More
Mining Association of Canada forms tailings management task force (3/17). The Mining Association of Canada (MAC) announced Tuesday it has commissioned an independent, multi-stakeholder expert task force to review its tailings management requirements and guidance documents under its Towards Sustainable Mining (TSM) initiative, a mandatory program for all MAC members, to ensure they are as effective as they can be at preventing tailings dam failures and optimizing the design, construction and ongoing management of tailings storage facilities. MAC plans to publish the task force’s final report by the end of 2015.
The formation of the independent task force is part of MAC’s ongoing review of its tailings management program, which it proactively initiated immediately following the Aug. 4, 2014 tailings breach at the Mount Polley mine, MAC said in a press release. More
Towards Sustainable Mining
Red Chris tailings pond ‘totally different’ from Mount Polley: Bill Bennett (3/2). B.C.’s Minister of Energy and Mines Bill Bennett said he’s confident the tailings pond at the proposed Red Chris mine won’t fall to the same fate as the one at the Mount Polley mine.
“It’s a totally different design in terms of the tailings storage facility itself. Mount Polley had a two kilometre square facility with four man-made dams. At Red Chris you have the natural contour of the valley so you have two sides where you don’t need a dam. You’ve got one in because the valley runs downhill,” he told The Early Edition’s Rick Cluff.
Bennett said independent engineers, engineers from Imperial Metals — the company behind the proposal, and engineers from the Tahltan First Nation have all signed off on the design.
Last week, the B.C. government granted Imperial Metals, which is the same company behind the Mount Polley mine, an interim permit to test the tailings pond at the Red Chris site. More
May 2. Alaska Commeercial Fishermen’s Memorial and Blessing of the Fleet 10:00AM, Juneau
May 8. Juneau Maritme Festival-Port to Starboard Progressive Dinner (Fundraiser)
May 9. Juneau Maritime Festival, Juneau
Oct (TBD). SSRAA Board Meeting, Craig
Oct 26 (Week of). UFA Board Meeting, Petersburg
Nov 12. NSRAA Board Meeting, Sitka
Dec (1st week). Gillnet Task Force, Sitka
Dec 3. JRPT, Sitka
Dec 5. DIPAC Board Meeting, Juneau
Jan 25-29. IPHC Annual Meeting, Juneau, AK
Jan 27-29. Young Fishermen’s Summit; VI, Juneau Baranof
Feb 16. New USCG “survival craft” rules go into effect
April. SE BOF Finfish Proposals due
Feb/Mar (TBD). SE BOF Finfish meeting