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News
Jun 05 2015
Council's Advisory Panel Recommends 31% Halibut Bycatch Reduction PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 June 2015
Rachel Waldholz/KCAW 
The Advisory Panel to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council has come out in favor of reducing halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea. 

The panel is made up of fishing industry representatives, and it was tasked with making a formal recommendation on the issue, by far the most contentious of the Sitka meeting happening now. 

After a day and a half of emotional testimony from all sides, the panel voted 11 to 10 to reduce the bycatch cap for the Bering Sea groundfish fleet by 31% overall. Since the fleet is already under its cap, that would amount to a real reduction of about 13% from the five-year average. 

The panel proposed different cuts for different sectors. The largest proposed reduction is for the so-called “Amendment 80” fleet. Those are catcher-processors that target flatfish like yellowfin sole, and generate the bulk of halibut bycatch mortality. 

The issue now goes before the Council itself, which is scheduled to start taking public comment on halibut bycatch today (Friday).
 
Jun 05 2015
Assemblywoman Carol Austerman Resigns PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 05 June 2015
austerman_web-7774.jpgPicture of Carol Austerman. Via the Kodiak Island Borough website.

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Assemblywoman Carol Austerman resigned last night at the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly regular meeting. She announced her decision during Assembly Members’ Comments.

“My husband has been offered a job overseas and we will be moving,” says Austerman. “So, since my family will be preparing for this move, that has to be my priority and I’m no longer gonna be able to give the amount of time necessary to be successful in this volunteer position with the Borough Assembly, so I definitely want to thank my constituency for giving me the opportunity to serve our community over the past few years. Thank you.”

Austerman says the resignation is effective at the end of this month.

There was a brief silence after she finished, and Assemblyman Dan Rohrer was up next for Assembly Members’ Comments.

“I’m not really sure what to say. We’re sorry to see you leave. Although, it’s probably going to be really fun to live overseas,” says Rohrer. “Thank you for your service.”

Assemblyman Aaron Griffin also offered some words of parting to Austerman, who he says guided him when he first joined the Assembly.

“I cannot say with words what a pleasure it has been to serve with Carol,” says Griffin. “From day one, [she] was the first assemblymember who called me and drug me out to coffee when she heard I was gonna take the seat and helped me understand this beast that we’re part of.”

Griffin also commented on Austerman’s time as an assemblywoman.

“To have a moderate voice is a hard place to be, to be able to weigh things on both sides and not always come out as that harsh conservative line or on that ‘I’m gonna spend everything’ line and find that middle balance that is responsible, that maintains our services, but doesn’t break the bank and I’ve been very proud to have served with Carol, and I thank you so much for your service.”

Other items on the agenda were the adoption of the Borough’s fiscal year 2016 budget, which comes at the end of a series of long meetings and late nights. The Borough Assembly’s next work session is scheduled for June 11 and its next regular meeting for June 18.
 
Jun 04 2015
The Alaska Fisheries Report PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 04 June 2015

6.41 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup

 

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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.  

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 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.
 
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