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NOAA Fisheries taking comments on Gulf Rationalization. What do you think?
 

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May 28 2015
The Alaska Fisheries Report
Thursday, 28 May 2015

6.41 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup

 

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Coming up this week, the Marine Stewardship Council is optimistic the big salmon packers will be welcomed back into the fold, but will it be in time for this year's catch to be certified? A ship most fishermen never wanted to see will soon be going to the bottom itself, and good news: there was crab at Crab Fest this year. We had help from KMXT's Kayla Desroches in Kodiak and Annie Ropeik, late of KUCB Unalaska. 

 
May 28 2015
Alaskan Bishop Visits Unalaska, Aleutians
Thursday, 28 May 2015
Emily Schwing/KUCB
Alaska’s Russian Orthodox Bishop, David Mahaffey was in Unalaska last week. He has held his post in Alaska for just over a year. He says in that time, he’s placed more focus on work with the Regional Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor Training Program, or RADACT, to address issues of substance and alcohol abuse and domestic violence.

“They’re doing more with our seminarians so that when they graduate and when they go back to villages, they are better equipped to deal with people with these issues,” he said. “I have petitioned the governor to have more VPSO’s in the villages.”

But Bishop David says it’s unclear how successful that petition may be in light of cuts to the state’s budget.

Bishop David said there was something particularly special about his visit to the cathedral in Unalaska, one of the oldest in the country.  A chapel in the church is dedicated to St. Innocent, who served as the first Russian Orthodox bishop in the state beginning in 1840.

“When I came here and walked in the doors of this cathedral, the feeling that I had of just the overwhelming presence of St. Innocent was to me so spiritually uplifting, I would have been happy to not do anything else, but stand in the church all day,” Bishop David said. “This cathedral has that effect on me.”
 
Bishop David came to Alaska from Pennsylvania first in 2012.  He says he still grapples with the distance.

“I heard something the other day… a man was telling a story about a man who wanted to be a missionary but his wife didn’t want to go where he wanted to go and he kept saying ‘well, I either pick her for a wife or I go to this country to be a missionary,’ and he said it wasn’t until her realized he wasn’t picking between the woman and the country, he was picking between the woman and God and I kind of thought ‘yes, that’s what I was doing,” he said. “I was saying Pennsylvania or Alaska when I should have been saying ‘Pennsylvania or God?’”
 
Bishop David says he doesn’t regret his decision. He was in Unalaska to mark the Feast of the Ascension. In Russian Orthodox tradition, the celebration takes place 40 days after Easter. 

Bishop David also made visits to other Aleutian chain communities including Adak and Nikolski. 
 
May 28 2015
National Weather Service to Test Automated System in Kodiak
Thursday, 28 May 2015
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The National Weather Service recently announced a trial of a new data collection system that, if successful, will mean a change in work shifts for weather service employees located in Kodiak.

Three representatives from the organization spoke to leaders of the community at a conference last Friday. Those at the table included several Kodiak Island Borough Assembly members and borough employees.

Aimee Devaris is the Director of the Alaska Region of the National Weather Service. She says they have forecast offices in Juneau, Anchorage, and Fairbanks, as well as several statewide facilities in Anchorage such as the Alaska Aviation Weather Unit.

She says nine of the 12 remote offices are part-time, and the weather service has kept Kodiak as one of the full-time offices.

“Primarily because these are the largest communities that have a remote office,” says Devaris. “And we wanted to start with smaller communities and kinda test our assumptions and make sure that we could maintain strong relationships with the communities from the forecast office, make sure we had a good network of observations and things to support the forecast. And we’ve done that.”

She says over a decade ago, before the internet and other advancements in technology, those remote locations produced local weather reports, but now their main function is public service and data collection.

“They’re strategically placed for the purposes of launching the weather balloons to collect data in the atmosphere,” says Devaris. “That’s something that happens over the entire globe simultaneously twice a day. These balloons go up. So it’s not just something that’s done in the United States. It’s done everywhere for the purposes of numerical weather prediction. I mean, that’s really why we have a midnight shift and we’ll have to continue to have that for now.”

Devaris says they will test an automated system for the weather balloons that could help support a smaller team of employees than exists now and replace the need for the early morning shift.

“We’re procuring an automated system that’s similar to what they use in Canada, Norway, there are a lot of Northern countries with similar climates that use these systems,” says Devaris. “And so we’re gonna test that here in Kodiak really to maintain the continuity of that important observation. And if we’re successful with that, then that does get us out from under the necessity to run a midnight shift.”

Devaris says installation is tentatively planned for October.

Sam Albanese is the meteorologist in charge of the Anchorage forecast office. He explains that the Kodiak employees already serve as middle men between Anchorage and Kodiak. He says the public currently has the option to contact the Anchorage office directly for weather information.

And, in the near future, so will mariners calling in via satellite phone with weather observations and forecast requests.

“What happens is, whoever you talk to in Kodiak, they wind up calling us and saying ‘yeah, we just talked to this mariner and they said this was going on,’ so a lot gets lost in translation that we can’t converse with the mariner,” says Albanese. “And so that’s one of my goals. That satellite phone will be in the Anchorage office.”

Albanese says there are currently five weather service employees in Kodiak, but they only need three to supervise the automated system. He says that number will be achieved as a result of employee turnover.

Weather service representatives also presented a website the public can use to see weather conditions at exact locations on land and at sea.
 
May 27 2015
Phone Scammers Not Really Kodiak Police
Wednesday, 27 May 2015
Jay Barrett/KMXT
The Kodiak Police Department is reporting that someone somewhere is impersonating the department over the phone and demanding money for missed court dates.

In a release from the department, they say the caller ID is similar to KPD's, and that it is possible for sophisticated scammers to spoof the system.

The department urges anyone who receives such a call to not give the caller any personal or financial information.

The department says the Kodiak Police Department will never demand payment over the phone. 

The scam is similar to one recently where callers have impersonated the IRS, and demanding delinquent tax payments. 
 
May 27 2015
Crab Makes an Appearance at Crab Fest 2015
Wednesday, 27 May 2015
jeremy_abenaand_crab.jpgJeremy Abena removes crab legs from boiling water. Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

When visitors drop by Crab Fest, they expect to buy, eat, and generally pig out on crab. Any type of crab will do, as long as there IS crab. Well, the crab industry may not be the bustling market of Kodiak yesteryear, but the crustacean still made an appearance at Memorial Day weekend 2015.

3.11 MB | Download MP3 | Open in popup



Jeremy Abena does marketing and sales for Pickled Willys. He says there are a variety of crab types with different flavors, but they’re selling Golden King Crab.

“It’s saltier,” says Abena. “But it’s bigger sections, so people get a little more return on their crack. I would say most people prefer the snow crab, the tanner crab, the bairdi. It’s all the same thing, but different names. Most of the locals prefer that because it’s a sweeter crab. It’s not as salty, but it’s not as big. So, you  gotta take your taste versus your return on your crack.”

Co-owner Barbara Hughes says all they do is re-heat the crab for four minutes and serve it out steamy and warm. With one important side dish.

“Everybody wants butter, tons of butter. Not really any cocktail sauce, just tons of butter,” says Hughes.

Abena says a crab leg weighs about a half pound, and they charge 20 dollars per pound. He says they shipped their weekend supply in from Akutan, where the crab was caught a little more than a week ago.

NOAA crab biologist, Pete Cummiskey, says King Crab fishing used to be a thriving industry in Kodiak.

“At one time, it was called the King Crab capital of the world back in the 60s and into the 70s and then the crab populations around 1982 around Kodiak and all around Alaska kinda crashed and they have not recovered sufficiently in Kodiak to have a crab season since 1982,” says Cummiskey.

He says there are a lot of theories – over fishing, disease – but little evidence for any one reason king Crab numbers shrunk.

“The population went down throughout the entire range of King Crab throughout Alaska and over into Russian waters and down into British Columbia waters which kinda points more to a broad environmental kinda cause or factors that contributed as opposed to localized fishing,” says Cummiskey.

Trevor Brown is the Executive Director of the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce, which organizes Crab Fest. He says a few years ago, the festival relied on St. Mary’s Catholic Parish and School booth for its crab needs.

One local fisherman donated annually before he retired.

“Once he sold out of his shares of crab he obviously wasn’t able to donate that anymore, so we did have one year where we didn’t have crab at Crab Festival, and I believe that was three years ago,” says Brown.

Brown says this year Crab Fest offers not only a booth for King Crab, but also one for Dungeness crab.

Terri and Randy Blondin run Krimson’s Crab, where you can see the crab scuttling around in a tank at the booth.

Randy Blondin is a commercial fisherman and says he does have a preference.

“Actually, I think I like Dungeness better myself,” says Blondin. “Although it’s obviously cheaper than King Crab. It’s half the price that King Crab is.”

The smaller Dungeness crab goes for fifteen dollars each at Krimson’s.

Unless you know someone – or you are someone – who fishes for crab, the festival is one of the few opportunities for residents to grab this particular brand of seafood. And now that commercial outlets are selling at the festival, Kodiak is not as likely to go without crab again.
 
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