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Apr 09 2015
North Pacific Council to Act on Chinook Bycatch
Thursday, 09 April 2015
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Chinook salmon. NOAA photo 
 
Lauren Rosenthal/KUCB
This week, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council will decide whether to mount a new crackdown on salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea's biggest fishery. 

The pollock fleet could be asked to fish earlier in the year to avoid salmon. And they may face tighter limits on the number of salmon they can take without shutting down their season. 

For the last five years, the hard limit on Chinook salmon has been 60,000 fish. The council is considering a plan to lower that cap by 25 to 60 percent in years when the Chinook aren't doing well. 

Salmon runs have recently hit rock bottom in western Alaska -- triggering subsistence shutdowns and making each salmon seem more valuable to the fishermen who rely on them. 

According to genetic research, more than half of the Chinook salmon that gets taken as bycatch comes from Western Alaskan rivers. But it’s not clear how many salmon would be saved and sent back there if the new restrictions on commercial pollock fishing went through. 

The North Pacific Council’s staff members weren’t able to calculate that impact as part of an environmental review. The results will be presented to the scientists and industry stakeholders who sit on the Council this week. They’re expected to take a final vote on Friday.
 
Apr 09 2015
Tustumena Replacement Model Floats in Bulgaria
Thursday, 09 April 2015
2014_concept_tustumena.jpg
2014 conceptual drawing of the ocean-going ferry that would replace the Tustumena in the Alaska Marine Highway System. Glosten / Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities
 
 
 
 
Kayla Desroches/KMXT
 
The Tustumena Ferry replacement process is well underway. The Marine Transportation Advisory Board discussed the progress at its meeting yesterday. Alaska
 
Marine Highway System General Manager, John Falvey, says that they should have the detailed designs and estimates done by the middle of this December. And they're doing it not only according to the budget, but maybe even under the budget. Here's Falvey. 

“You know we had ten million, we programmed six. We feel we can get it done for six. So, there should be still four left over when we're done. We're surely  hopeful.”

Right now, Falvey says they're tank-testing in Bulgaria. 

“It's about a 25 foot model that goes into a tank larger than an Olympic-size swimming pool and that will be testing that's gonna on for quite a few months. And we can learn a lot about the hull and corrections we have to make getting the hull's computers designed and we'll get a lot of sea-keeping information.”

Falvey says the new Tustumena isn't just a copy of the first.

“It's a little bigger than the current tusty and more carrying capacity and, you know, newer engines will be a lot more fuel efficient. She'll be a little deeper in the water, so her sea-keeping will be better and just, you know, better all around.”

Falvey says while the Tustumena replacement vessel will be bigger, it will still fit in all the smaller ports. 
 
Apr 08 2015
Kodiak City Council Talks Composting Facility and KPAC
Wednesday, 08 April 2015

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Members of the Kodiak City Council met at the library Tuesday night. Kayla Desroches/KMXT

 

Kayla Desroches/KMXT          

 

Kodiak city biosolids will soon end up in a new composting facility, and Kodiak may see a resurgence of one of its fisheries councils. These were both matters of discussion at the Kodiak City Council work session Tuesday night.

Julie Matweyou from the UAF Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program stopped by to seek the council's approval as a possible facilitator of the Kodiak Fisheries Advisory Committee, or KFAC.  Matweyou says that borough Assemblywoman Rebecca Skinner asked her to consider taking the position in November. The suggestion comes as a move to revitalize the group. KFAC's last official meeting was in Spring 2014.

Matweyou cites the original resolution that established KFAC in 2006, which describes the council as one created to provide recommendations to the Kodiak Borough Assembly and City Council on fishery issues. She says that KFAC could be a useful sounding board if brought back with regular meetings.

“As KFAC is not a decision making body, the value of the group is in the discussion and that open exchange. It has been an open exchange forum that members and community attendees find useful,” says Matweyou.

Councilmember Terry Haines referred back that idea when Councilman Charlie Davidson asked how KFAC would be different from the Kodiak Fisheries Work Group.

“The idea generally was that the committee would allow more and more discussion and more interaction amongst the various interested parties so that when they then attended the fish work group, they might be better prepared and having already had the preliminary discussions,” says Haines.

Council members expressed concern about KFAC's goals and potential effectiveness. The Council left the matter of Matweyou's KFAC facilitation undecided and made a note to bring it up at the next joint work session with the Borough Assembly.

At the work session, the Council also announced the appropriation stage of its plans to construct a new composting facility. Now, with the approval of a loan combined with its budget, the Council will have access to over 7 million dollars for the project. The City has contracted local company, Brechan Enterprises, for the construction. Councilman Haines pointed out that this development will provide Kodiak with a higher quality facility.

“It'll be great to see a world-class A-composting go in because the b-composting we're doing now is a lot smellier and a nice A-composting facility with a bio filter and everything else is going to be so much better,” says Haines.

The Council will discuss further composting plans at their upcoming regular meeting on Thursday night. The meeting is open to the public and will take place at the assembly chambers at 7:30pm.

 
Apr 08 2015
Renowned Artist Munoz Dead at 93
Wednesday, 08 April 2015
munoz-weaving-360n.jpgA Rie Muñoz weaving hangs in the office of daughter-in-law Rep. Cathy Muñoz. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North) 
 
Casey Kelly and Lisa Phu/KTOO
Alaska artist Rie Munoz passed away Monday night of a stroke at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau. She was 93. 

Munoz was known for her colorful watercolor paintings of Alaska scenes, such as fishermen at work, children at play and life in remote villages. Her paintings, prints and reproductions are in galleries throughout North America and in the homes of many Alaskans.

“She loved to travel,” said Cathy Munoz, Rie Munoz' daughter-in-law. “She traveled all over the state and was most inspired by the people, Alaskans at work and play doing their day to day activity, especially the people in rural Alaska.

Her experience as a teacher on King Island in 1951 inspired the childrens book “King Island Christmas” written by her long-time friend Jean Rogers. Munoz illustrated the book.

Munoz was born in Southern California in 1921. Her father was a business magazine publisher and she spent parts of her childhood in Holland. She moved to Alaska in 1950.

She is survived by her son Juan, daughter-in-law Cathy, grandchildren Mercedes and Matthew, and her brother Piet Mounier, as well as a niece and two nephews. 
 
Apr 07 2015
King Angling Again Limited on Ayakulik and Karluk Rivers
Tuesday, 07 April 2015
Jay Barrett/KMXT
Expected low returns of king salmon to a pair of Kodiak Island rivers is prompting the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to put sportfishing restrictions in place before the season even starts. It's the third year in a row for such action.

Donn Tracy is the sportfish management biologist for Fish and Game in Kodiak explains the restrictions on the Ayakulik and Karluk rivers.

“We've had a history now of fairly low returns to both of those drainages, and just as a precautionary measure to try to conserve as much of the escapement as we can we've taken the measure of closing the Karluk River drainage to king salmon fishing preseason and restricting the Ayakulik to catch and release only with no bait and single hook.”

He said the Ayakulik has a little better track record in returns, which he thinks justifies the catch-and-release limits on it.

“The Karluk River has been designated a stock of concern by the Alaska Board of Fisheries as a result of its history of low escapement. That gives it just a little bit different status. It doesn't elevate our conservation concerns certainly because it's similar for any, or the same for any of our local salmon runs.”

He said if the Ayakulik return is even worse than expected, the sport fishery there can easily be closed mid-season.

Tracy also said that interest by fishermen on those two rivers is expected to remain low during this king season, as it has been in recent years.

“That also factors into the decision-making process. That's actually a significant consideration. We don't, haven't seen substantial levels, or really any significant level of angler effort at either of those drainages during the king salmon fishery in recent years. And we expect a similar scenario this year, which also allows for maybe for a little more discretion for our action on the Ayakulik.”

King salmon fishing on the Karluk River will close on June 1st through July 25th, and any that are incidentally caught must not be taken from the water and released immediately. On the Ayakulik, anglers can target kings, but they may not be retained and also may not be taken from the water. Only unbaited, single-hook, artificial lures may be used in both drainages. 
http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/Static-sf/EONR/PDFs/2015/R2/NR_Karluk-KS-2015_%20final.pdf
http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/Static-sf/EONR/PDFs/2015/R2/EO_Ayakulik-KS-2015_final.pdf 
 
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