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Jun 04 2015
The Alaska Fisheries Report PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 04 June 2015

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Coming up this week, it's an interesting time to be in Sitka, as the North Pacific Council gets set to vote on Bering Sea halibut bycatch reductions; meanwhile, the state of Alaska is fixin' to shut down if the legislature can't agree on a budget – we'll find out what that means for Fish and Game and our commercial fisheries; AND, have you seen that seine skiff over in King Cove that looks like a space ship? (“I thought it was a funny looking skiff, but holy [beep] that thing pulls!”) All that and more, coming up on the Alaska Fisheries Report. We had help from KCAW's Rachel Waldholz in Sitka and KHNS' Margaret Friedenauer in Haines.  


 The unique tug-like seine skiff designed by Snow and Company of Seattle and owned and operated by Andrew Manos along the Alaska Peninsula. Photo Snow and Co.

Jun 04 2015
Kodiak Arts Council Organizes Sum'Arts 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 04 June 2015
sumarts_2015_cover.jpgPoster for Sum’Arts. Via Kodiak Arts Council

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

June is here, which means children are putting aside their studies – or their blocks – and pursuing summer activities. The Kodiak Arts Council has organized Sum’Arts once again this year to help the effort. It’ll offer classes in everything from sewing to acting.

The Executive Director of the Arts Council, Katie Oliver, says one of the courses this week is “Improvise This, Kodiak Youth Improvisational Theatre.”

"It’s a week-long camp and kids learn improvisation techniques and play theater games and get comfortable in the space and on stage and learn new ways to express themselves," says Oliver.

The arts and crafts camp series continues through August. One standout is a cooking lesson. Oliver says this is the first year Sum’Arts will provide culinary classes, and the instructor this summer will lead her students in making Greek cuisine.

“She’s teaching everything from spanakopita to baklava to dolmades, and the supplies and the food materials’ costs are all included in the tuitions, so it’s something that she’s encouraging parents to do with their kids, so you can both come and take a cooking lesson together and go home with your treats,” says Oliver.

Oliver says they’ve seen a lot of new ideas and different ways of structuring classes this year.

“For example, beach art, which is a class that’s being taught by Elizabeth Ellis, is a new class this year, and she’s including a field trip to the beach for students to collect materials,” says Oliver. “And kids can bring in previously harvested beach materials and come up with a design and help them execute a piece of art from what they find at the beach.”

To register, you can call the Arts Council Office at 486 – 5291 or visit its website.
Jun 04 2015
Alaska Majority Will Be Gone During Halibut Bycatch Vote PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 04 June 2015
Jay Barrett/KMXT
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is meeting in Sitka this week and the major decision before them is a proposed reduction in the allowable halibut bycatch in the Amendment 80 factory trawler fishery in the Bering Sea. The proposal seeks to cut the current cap by as much as half, but other alternatives are before the board. 

But when the Council does make its final decision, two of its members from Alaska will not be allowed to vote. 

NOAA General Counsel for Alaska, Lauren Smoker, found that Alaska members David Long and Simon Kinneen had a financial conflict of interest in the outcome of the vote and ruled that they must be recused from the halibut bycatch vote.

The decision was appealed, but the ruling was upheld by NOAA's Deputy General Counsel Mary Beth Ward in Washington D.C. 

Long works as a captain for Glacier Fish Company, but mostly targets pollock, while Kinneen works for the Norton Sound Economic Development Corporation, which is one of six Bering Sea CDQ groups, that collectively receive 10 percent of the Bering Sea harvest quota. And even though the decision before the Council is for the flatfish catcher-processors, Ward agreed that the rule could be applied to more fisheries, and only certain ones are specifically excluded.

In her letter, Ward said Long and Kinneen may participate in the halibut bycatch deliberations and may inform the remaining Council members how they WOULD have voted if given the chance.

The rule leaves Alaska with four votes on the matter, Washington with three and Oregon with one. The National Marine Fisheries Service Alaska Region will be represented by Assistant Administrator Glenn Martin, as region chief Jim Balsiger must be recused as well, because his wife lobbies for the St. Paul CDQ group.
Jun 03 2015
Salmon Fishing Period Opens PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 June 2015
Sockeye Salmon swimming in river. Viasockeye_salmon_flickr.jpg Watershed_Watch/Flickr

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game Division of Commercial Fisheries issued a news release Monday announcing that it will open the salmon fishing period today at noon. Assistant Area Management Biologist, Todd Anderson, says the start of the season is largely dictated by the sockeye salmon escapements throughout the island.

“This year’s forecast for many of the systems are at or a little bit about average, so it looks like it’ll [be], at least forecast-wise, a decent outlook to the season for Sockeye,” says Anderson. “We’ve had our first set of escapement data from Karluk and Ayakulik weirs and both of those weirs are a little bit ahead. They’re doing well right now, which has largely dictated this initial opener for the area.”

Anderson says, as determined by the Alaska Board of Fisheries, King Salmon over 28 inches must be returned to the water by purse seine gear until further notice.

“Generally state-wide, the King Salmon returns have been depressed and it was within the board’s mandate and their own action to implement a non-retention fishery on King Salmon stocks that are likely not bound for Kodiak Island themselves, especially this early in the season,” says Anderson.

For more salmon fishery information, you can call the Department’s 24-hour record-a-phone at 486-4559 or go to the Fish and Game website.
Jun 03 2015
Matson Completes Horizon Lines Purchase PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 03 June 2015
Emily Schwing/KUCB
The finalization of a deal to acquire Horizon Lines’ Alaska operations means the nation’s largest Jones Act shipping company no longer exists. The Matson Navigation Company says isn’t planning any major changes to shipping service in the state.

For decades, Horizon Lines provided regular shipping service between Tacoma, Washington and Anchorage, Kodiak and Unalaska. 

“The three ships that service the domestic service do provide groceries, mail and primarily supplies from primarily Tacoma and anchorage into the port of Dutch Harbor.” 00:12

That’s Peggy McLaughlin. She’s the Port Director for the city of Unalaska.

“They also relay cargo in from Kodiak to make connection to the international line haul ships,” McLaughlin said.

But Horizon Lines no longer exists. In December, the company ended its operations in Puerto Rico. Its Hawaii services were sold to the Pasha Group and last Friday, Matson Navigation Company finalized the acquisition of Horizon’s Alaskan operations for $469 million dollars. 

Matson Spokesman Jeff Hull declined to have his comments recorded, but in a phone interview he said any major changes following the acquisition are likely to be in name only.

“The acquisition was a matter of growth,” says Hull. 

He says Matson will retain the same union contracts, operate the same shipping schedule and continue to run the same three vessels in Alaska. Hull says there will be some minor restructuring to duplicate corporate positions in Washington State, but no personnel changes will be made on the ground in Alaska.

Peggy McLaughlin doesn’t anticipate any major changes in Dutch Harbor either.

“Unless there’s some reason for Matson to come out and sit down with us and discuss operational changes, we’re just going to assume that its’ business as usual,” she said.

Horizon Lines used Unalaska’s municipal dock for more than two decades. A special contract with the city lapsed at the end of 2013. Horizon then paid tariffs to move cargo through the port. Both McLaughlin and Hull anticipate that agreement to continue.
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