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Jun 08 2015
Sen. Stevens: SB21 Stance Precipitated Fall From Leadership PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 08 June 2015
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Jay Barrett/KMXT
For two sessions, or four years, Kodiak Senator Gary Stevens was the Alaska Senate President. Before that he served as majority leader and rules chair under Senator Lyda Green. During both of those periods the Senate was a coalition of moderates, with all of the Democrats and most of the Republicans joining in. 

After re-apportionment redrew the election map, the 10-10 tie between the parties shifted Republican and the coalition fell apart under more conservative leadership – for two years under Senate President Charlie Huggins and this current session under President Kevin Meyers. 

In that time Stevens was first given chairmanship of the Education Committee for two years, but had no committee assignments this year, instead being appointed to lead the Legislative Council, which tends to the House and Senate's business while out of session.

During a conversation recorded for Tuesday's Talk of the Rock, KMXT's Jay Barrett asked Senator Stevens if he felt he was being shuffled aside by the more conservative leadership in the Senate.
Jun 08 2015
NOAA Sends Two Ships to the Arctic PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 08 June 2015


NOAA leaders gathered Monday, June 8, 2015, to salute the crews of the research vessels Fairweather and Rainier (below) before they depart from Kodiak for the Arctic. From left to right, Dr. Russell Callender, acting assistant administration, NOAA National Ocean Service; Vice Admiral Michael Devany, deputy under secretary for operations; NOAA Commander Edward Van Den Ameele, commanding officer of NOAA Ship Rainier; Rear Admiral Gerd Glang, director, NOAA Office of Coast Survey. Photos Ben Sherman/NOAA  

Jun 08 2015
Salmon Harvest Slows a Bit Over Weekend PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 08 June 2015
Jay Barrett/KMXT
Commercial fishing slowed down quite a bit over the weekend after a relatively strong opening couple of days. 

Sockeye harvest Sunday was reported by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as 3,608 fish, bringing the total to 25,530.

743 pinks were caught, along with 467 chum, 55 kings and 3 silvers.

Sunday's total harvest was 4,876, bringing the all-species harvest up to 29,422.
Jun 08 2015
The Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center Joins the Summer Fun & Games PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 08 June 2015
kodiak_national_wildlife_refuge_2.jpgTwo children walk along a path during a Happy Trails outing. Via Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

For those of you looking for summer activities for your children, the flood gates are open. Groups around Kodiak are offering daytime and afternoon pursuits, and the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center is one of them.

Three of those programs are:  FUN / Families Understanding Nature, WILD / Wildlife, Investigation, Learning, and Discovery, and HAPPY TRAILS. Lauren Harre is a Visitor Center intern and says Happy Trails is a program with a mission.

“Happy Trails is a little bit different from both WILD and FUN,” she says. “They both take place in the visitor center, and so they’re a lot more stationary. They do crafts, they do stories, and they learn a lot, but Happy Trails is kinda focused on getting people outside. It stems from this nation-wide program where it basically focuses on getting families out and recreating.”

Harre says on June 13 they’ll have a beach bingo and clean-up.

“I’ll make a bingo card that’ll have things like seaweed or find some beach glass or whatever, and if they get in a row, maybe they’ll win something. And then if they find trash, that’s the clean-up part. And I’ll hopefully talk about Leave No Trace and some other things like that to go along with the clean-up part,” says Harre.

While Happy Trails is on Saturdays, the other two programs meet during the week. Ava Kahn is Visitor Center Manager and adds that FUN runs throughout the year.

“It’s for three to five year olds and their families, and we do stories and crafts and games and activities and all of our programs are nature oriented and have a conservation mission that’s age appropriate to the audience that we’re giving the programs for,” says Kahn.

She says the third program, WILD, continues through the summer and is geared towards elementary school-aged children.
You can learn more about the classes by calling 487 – 2626 or visiting the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge Facebook page.
Jun 08 2015
Council Halibut Bycatch Cut Leaves Nobody Satisfied PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 08 June 2015
Rachel Waldholz/KCAW
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted Sunday evening to lower caps on halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea -- by 21-percent overall. 

But Bering Sea halibut fishermen say the cut isn’t big enough to save their communities. 

The vote came after impassioned public testimony stretching over three days. Halibut biomass has declined over the past decade, and fishermen in communities like St. Paul, in the Pribilof Islands, face the possibility of being shut down entirely. They hoped that reducing bycatch would make more halibut available to fish. 

Kodiak Councilmember Duncan Fields said the final vote didn’t go nearly far enough. 

“I acknowledge on a personal basis my identity with the folks living in Western Alaska,” Fields said. “And their loss of economic opportunity, personal identity, and cultural legacy. I get it….”

Alaska Fish & Game Commissioner Sam Cotten originally proposed a larger cut, of about 29-percent. He called it “the bare minimum” to protect Bering Sea fishermen.

But the Council adopted a smaller cut proposed by Bill Tweit of Washington State. Tweit said anything larger would be too steep for industry to absorb.

The numbers are tricky: While the final vote reduces the cap by about 21-percent, the affected fleets have been well under their caps in recent years. So the new cap is actually slightly higher than the total amount of bycatch taken last year. 

But the cut varies among different groups. Big flatfish trawlers, who are responsible for most of the bycatch, will take the biggest cut. They must reduce the amount of halibut they catch by about 15-percent from last year’s numbers.

“We’re extremely concerned about job loss in our fishery right now, about tying up vessels, and we need to sit down and assess the extent that this is going to damage our sector, said Chris Woodley, director of the Groundfish Forum, which represents many of those trawlers.

The cut passed six to three. Two Alaska members were forced to recuse themselves, in a controversial ruling by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

There’ll be more on this story this evening on APRN's Alaska News Nightly. 
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