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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
June 01, 2018

Front Page Feature Photo By JERRY CEGELSKE

Sitka Black-tailed Doe & Fawn
According to the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, "Sitka black-tailed deer are closely related to the larger Columbia black-tailed deer of the Pacific Northwest, and both are considered subspecies of the (even larger) mule deer of the American West. Fawns are born in early June and weigh 6-8 pounds at birth. The average October weight of adults is about 80 pounds for females (does) and 120 pounds for males (bucks), although bucks of over 200 pounds have been reported." (Source ADF&G)
Front Page Feature Photo By JERRY CEGELSKE ©2018

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Fish Factor: Could Hagfish Become a Viable Fishery? By LAINE WELCH - Hagfish is the real name for what is commonly called slime eels and it could become a viable fishery with ready markets standing by.

Little is known about hagfish in Alaska, although they are commonly caught elsewhere in the U.S. and abroad. In Oregon, for example, a fleet of 15 to 20 boats catches up to two million pounds each year in customized five gallon buckets or large barrels and pay fishermen up to $1.25 a pound. 

Now, two Alaska biologists are testing the waters for a fishery with longliner in Southeast who were given a special permit to catch 60,000 pounds of hagfish for their studies.   

“It’s commonly seen as a pest,” said Andrew Olson, a biologist with the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game in Douglas. “In longline fisheries for sablefish, they often leave slime blobs on the hooks and strip bait, and they get into shrimp pots as well.” 

Olsen is in the second year of a hagfish study with fellow researcher Aaron Baldwin. Their goal is to “keep the science ahead of any fishery to make sure it is sustainable” by learning more about the unique species.

 “We are looking at basic biology such as length, weight and egg counts in females. We can’t yet age the fish and they don’t thrive well in captivity. We are really starting from scratch,” said Olson.  

Reproduction and spawning have never been witnessed or documented, and biologists don’t know where or when hagfish do so.

“We’ve seen eggs, and juveniles, but nothing in between,” said Baldwin. “No one has ever seen a baby hagfish.”          

A single foot and a half inch, nine-ounce hagfish can fill a bucket with slime in seconds from 100 glands alongside its body.

“It’s extruded and looks like a white latex liquid that comes out when it’s dry and it expands when it hits seawater. The slime molecules will entrap water molecules and it is an amazing substance,” he said.

The slime has several functions - it suffocates predators, helps hunt prey by forcing them out of burrows and it lubricates entry into fish through the anus. 

“It has digestive enzymes so when you open up a sablefish, for example, it is literally bones, hagfish slime and a few hagfish inside the fish. They start with the internal organs and eat every bit of flesh that’s in there,” Baldwin explained. 

Most slime, as with slugs, is just mucus, he said and doesn’t have the capability of absorbing water molecules and expanding. 

“Hagfish produce a very unique substance. It is definitely one of a kind,” Baldwin added.

Studies by the U.S. Navy and other researchers has shown that the chemical makeup of hagfish slime is stronger than spider silk.  

“Because of its qualities there are lots of efforts to make synthetic duplicates or bioengineer bacteria to produce the slime for industrial purposes,” Baldwin said. “The US navy is using synthetic hagfish slime to produce a substance that is lighter and stronger than Kevlar. The slime also shows potential as an anti-foulant for ship hulls. And medical research has shown that hagfish slime heals burns quickly and may be used as microfibers for cell repair.”

A well-established market for hagfish is Korea where the meat is a barbecue and stir fry favorite and the skin is sold as “eel skin leather” products.

“It’s been a fun project to work on,” Baldwin said. “We get to work with fishermen on developing a fishery and it’s a species we haven’t paid much attention to so everything we are learning is really new to us.”

If Alaska fishermen encounter hagfish in waters outside of Southeast, Olson and Baldwin would like to know about it. - More...
Friday PM - June 01, 2018

jpg Mark Hieronymus poses with a steelhead caught
in 2014 on a Southeast Alaskan river. 
Photo by Tyson Fick ©2018

Hunting for fish in Alaska’s steelhead-bearing rivers and streams
Mark Hieronymus poses with a steelhead caught
in 2014 on a Southeast Alaskan river. 
Photo by Tyson Fick ©2018


The Salmon State:
Hunting for fish in Alaska’s steelhead-bearing rivers and streams By MARY CATHARINE MARTIN - For most people, steelhead - sea-run rainbow trout - are “the fish of 10,000 casts.” To catch them, you stand waist-deep in a spring-melt river, growing numb with cold as you cast… and cast… and cast.

Trout Unlimited sportfish outreach coordinator and Bear Creek Outfitter fishing guide Mark Heironymus says it doesn’t have to be that way. A better word than “fishing” for steelhead, he said, is “hunting.” You might go hours between casts, but once you line everything up right, you get your fish.

Though they’re as far north as the Copper River, 319 of the 340 or so steelhead watersheds listed in the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Anadromous Waters Catalogue are in Southeast Alaska, Heironymus said. (If you count streams, rivers and lakes individually, said J. Johnson, the Alaska Department of Fish & Game’s anadromous waters catalog project biologist, there are 892 in Alaska as a whole “that we know of.”)

Heironymus said he fishes in at least a dozen unlisted streams a half hour’s flight from Juneau. Listed or unlisted, most see fewer than 200 spawning adults every year — though one river, the Situk in Yakutat, has thousands. - More...
Friday PM - June 01, 2018

Ketchikan: Klawock Husband And Wife Plead Guilty To Willful Failure To Pay Taxes - A husband and wife pleaded guilty yesterday to two counts of willfully failing to pay their income taxes, announced Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Richard E. Zuckerman of the Justice Department’s Tax Division and U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder for the District of Alaska.

According to court documents, Archie W. Demmert III, 57, and Roseann L. Demmert, 60, both of Klawock, Alaska, held commercial fishing permits and earned six-figure incomes in 2013 and 2014 from commercial fishing, on which they failed to timely pay the required income taxes due. Archie Demmert owned Vetta Bay LLC, which owned the Demmerts’ fishing vessel, the Emerald Beauty.

In addition, according to court documents, from 2006 to 2012 the Demmerts did not timely pay in full the taxes they owed to the Internal Revenue Service. As a result, the total tax loss to the IRS arising from their conduct is more than $300,000.

When charged in July 2017, the Justice Department also alleged the Demmerts did not pay their taxes for 13 separate tax years, for which they owed over $400,000, excluding penalties and interest. The amount of back taxes owed and restitution will be known at the time of sentencing in October. - More...
Friday PM - June 01, 2018

Ketchikan: Vallenar Young-growth Project decision made  - The Vallenar Young-growth Project final decision was signed on May 24, 2018, by Ketchikan Misty Fjords District Ranger Susan Howle. The selected action makes available approximately 155 acres of the 886 acres in the project area.

The final decision makes available approximately 4 MMBF of young-growth timber for harvest, reconditions approximately 1.2 miles of road and helps to restore hydrologic function in the Vallenar Creek Watershed.

The Vallenar Project is located on the northernmost end of Gravina Island, about 4 miles northwest of Ketchikan. According to a Forest Service news release, a contract is expected to be awarded by the end of FY 2018.  - More...
Friday PM - June 01, 2018


Alaska Science:
Alaska structures crumble without us By NED ROZELL - In Alan Weisman’s book, “The World Without Us,” the author ponders “a world from which we all suddenly vanished. Tomorrow.”

In his thought experiment, Weisman travels around the world to explore that question, revealing that cockroaches and bedbugs would not fare well without our sloppiness and warmth, but Theodore Roosevelt’s granite face will stare down from Mount Rushmore for the next 7.2 million years.

Weisman devotes a chapter to buildings, going into detail on their natural, gradual destruction. It all begins with water, Weisman writes, quoting a farmer who said a sure way to destroy a barn is to cut an 18-inch hole in its roof.

Posed with the question of the fate of Alaska structures without us, researchers with the Cold Climate Housing Research Center in Fairbanks agreed that the liquid stuff of life is the most powerful agent of demise.

The research center’s Ilya Benesch has witnessed the slow and interesting fade of a mining building in Poorman, Alaska, which benefited from a still-intact tin roof. Built in the early 1900s, the structure, about 70 miles south of Ruby, was still in decent shape about 75 years later. - More...
June 01, 2018

Southeast Alaska (POW): Along Alaska's Pacific coast, early humans could have migrated to the Americas; Geologic evidence supports a coastal theory of early settlement - When and how did the first people come to the Americas?

The conventional story says that the earliest settlers came via Siberia, crossing the now-defunct Bering land bridge on foot and trekking through Canada when an ice-free corridor opened up between massive ice sheets toward the end of the last ice age.

But with recent archaeological evidence casting doubt on this thinking, scientists are seeking new explanations. One dominant, new theory: The first Americans took a coastal route along Alaska's Pacific border to enter the continent.

A new geological study provides compelling evidence to support this hypothesis.

By analyzing boulders and bedrock, a research team led by the University at Buffalo shows that part of a coastal migration route became accessible to humans 17,000 years ago. During this period, ancient glaciers receded, exposing islands of southern Alaska's Alexander Archipelago to air and sun -- and, possibly, to human migration. 

The timing of these events is key: Recent genetic and archaeological estimates suggest that settlers may have begun traveling deeper into the Americas some 16,000 years ago, soon after the coastal gateway opened up.

The research was published online on May 30 in the journal Science Advances

"People are fascinated by these questions of where they come from and how they got there," says lead scientist Jason Briner, PhD, professor of geology in UB's College of Arts and Sciences. "Our research contributes to the debate about how humans came to the Americas. It's potentially adding to what we know about our ancestry and how we colonized our planet."

"Our study provides some of the first geologic evidence that a coastal migration route was available for early humans as they colonized the New World," says UB geology PhD candidate Alia Lesnek, the study's first author. "There was a coastal route available, and the appearance of this newly ice-free terrain may have spurred early humans to migrate southward." - More...
Friday PM - June 01, 2018



CHRISTINE FLOWERS: Name-calling Other Women Makes Samantha Bee the Other C-word (Classless) - I used to watch Samantha Bee because her manic sort of mean-girl humor appealed to me. (I'm a manic sort of mean girl myself.)While I don't share her politics, I like her delivery and her sass, and the fact that she's Canadian is even more delightful, because who knew Canadians were funny? (Please don't email me about all the great Canadian comics. That was my mean-girl humor.)

But after this week's show, I won't be watching her ever again.It's my own private boycott, and won't involve the cancellation of major contracts and the loss of hundreds of jobs on an ABC sitcom, or diversity training at a franchise of coffee shops. But it will make me feel a little less dirty.

This week, Bee made a major bumble and called Ivanka Trump a "feckless c---'" because Trump had the audacity to post an Instagram photo of herself with her youngest baby, Theodore, on Memorial Day weekend. Bee was upset that Ivanka could seem so "tone deaf" about loving her child when her dad's administration was apparently separating children from their parents at the border.

Now, you can disagree with President Trump's immigration policy. I do. I not only disagree, I am actively fighting along with other immigration lawyers to end it. While I understand the philosophy behind it, it is simply base inhumanity to separate children from adults and put them into foster care and detention centers. Those who, like me, are virulently opposed to abortion and call themselves pro-life would be hypocrites if they said they supported this draconian and cruel measure,

But what you should not do is use your disagreement with government policy to slander a loving young mother who has the audacity to show how much she loves her child on social media. - More...
Friday PM - June 01, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: Immigration Rule of Law

Political Cartoon: Immigration Rule of Law
By Nate Beeler ©2018, The Columbus Dispatch, OH
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Letter / Opinion

For all we have, we owe thanks By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Last week I had the honor and privilege of attending the Kayhi Scholarship Awards assembly at the Ketchikan High School Auditorium.  More than 6 million dollars in scholarships were offered to the Kayhi graduating class of 2018 and more than 3 million dollars were accepted. This is evidence of the hard work put forth by the students who were able to qualify for these scholarships and educational opportunities. It is also evidence of the ready support of their families, teachers, counselors, coaches, and the entire community of Ketchikan.

What struck me even more however, was that last Wednesday night’s scholarship assembly was just another of the countless examples that are before us each day, reminding us of how blessed we are to live in the community, state and country we call home.  I’m guilty of taking for granted the amazing freedoms that we enjoy in this country - from the freedom of religion, to the freedom of speech and all the other freedoms that come with living in the United States of America.  And, as the saying goes, it’s important to remember that, “freedom isn’t free.”  - More...
Tuesday PM - May 29, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Let’s make Alaska home of the next big idea By Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Energy Secretary Rick Perry - Over the next few days, the University of Alaska will host a unique event that brings dozens of the world’s best and brightest scientists to Fairbanks. Known as National Lab Day, this forum will provide an incredible opportunity for Alaskans to form new partnerships with the individuals who run our nation’s premier research institutions.

If national parks were America’s best idea, National Labs were our smartest. From their founding more than 70 years ago, the laboratories now affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy have been engines of remarkable scientific achievement. Breakthroughs in renewable energy, the worldwide web, satellite technologies and safe drinking water are just a few of the many innovations to emerge from the likes of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge and Sandia over the years. - More...
Tuesday PM - May 29, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

The Stand for Salmon Deception By Curtis Thayer - The Alaska Chamber has long been an outspoken voice for pro-business policies that grow our economy and create economic opportunities for Alaskans. For several years, especially during the recent economic slump, we’ve advocated for a state fiscal plan that limits government spending and supports private sector growth.

Our annual public opinion survey found that 60 percent of Alaskans rate the state’s economy as poor. It’s a shocking number, and an indicator of how pessimistic Alaskans are about their ability to work and make a living here.

Alaska already has the unwanted distinction of having the highest unemployment rate in the country. Getting our economy and our state back on track requires some hard decisions and a vision for the future, but, in the short term, we have some serious obstacles right before us. - More...
Tuesday PM - May 29, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Ketchikan Taxpayers & Assembly/School Board – or – The Ant and Grasshopper By Dan Bockhorst - In Delphi, Greece around 582 BC, Aesop narrated a fable of a grasshopper that spent the summer frolicking while an ant gathered food for the coming winter. When winter arrived, the grasshopper didn’t have enough to eat and begged the ant for food. The ant reminded the grasshopper of its failure to prepare for lean times and told it to frolic elsewhere.

2,600 years later and 5,775 miles away, the ant and grasshopper fable is playing out here in Ketchikan. The School Board asked the Borough Assembly to provide 12% more local discretionary funding for schools next year compared to this year. Unsatisfied with the requested 12% increase, four members of the Borough Assembly gave the School Board a 22% increase for next year, nearly double the Board’s request. - More...
Friday PM - May 25, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

More for less. By A. M. Johnson - Regarding the recent action of the Ketchikan assembly in funding actions, with the bent of the community fastly approaching the social levels of San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, it is not surprising that fiscal responsibility has arrived at the point common sense has left the circus and the clowns now run the show. - More...
Friday PM - May 25, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Open Letter RE Community Grants: KGB Mayor Landis By Glen Thompson - Dear Mayor Landis, At the Regular Assembly Meeting of May 7, 2018, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly (“Assembly”) introduced Ordinance 1859, adopting the FY2019 Borough Budget, and set that ordinance for public hearing at the Regular Assembly Meeting of May 21, 2018.

Draft Ordinance 1859, as presented to the Assembly for introduction, included $139,740 in community grant appropriations out of the General Fund to eleven non-profit entities that can be classified as Social Service agencies. Merriam-Webster defines Social Service as: - More...
Friday PM - May 18, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

2020 GO TO HELL, DOT By David G Hanger - While Juneau gets pristine roads without a pothole anywhere, Ketchikan gets a damned dog and pony show put on by DOT that includes toy trucks and hard hats for the kids. Plus the announcement that no improvements will be made to that hole in the road between the Coast Guard base and Saxman for at least three years. How much of this is racist????!!! Saxman is, of course, an Indian community.

In the meantime there are two sets of memorial wreaths, etc. set out to honor those who have been killed on that stretch of road in the past two or three years, which definitely makes this the most dangerous stretch of road on this rock. - More...
Friday AM - May 18, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

The Mysterious Jim Duncan By Tom Crosier - I worked with Jim Duncan's son, Rick on the F/V Margaret Ann, catching Dungeness crab in the areas around Bell Island. We sent 1500 pounds of live crab a week to Seattle by Alaska Airline. - More...
Friday AM - May 18, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

HB 312 strips away your rights By Andree McLeod - Lawmakers have again willfully and intentionally stripped away constitutionally protected rights of due process. House Bill 312 is, in part, an Act relating to arrest without a warrant for assault in the fourth degree at a health care facility. It impacts everyone, especially people who live with brain illness and cognitive impairments, such as autism, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Traumatic Brain Injury, and mental illness, among other brain illness.

In their attempt to deal with an increased crime rate, lawmakers found the courage to strip away the rights of individuals who are at their most vulnerable, when they're brought to medical facilities experiencing confusion and severe bouts of psychosis, mania, disorientation, and other symptoms of brain and cognitive impairments unrelated to substance abuse. - More...
Friday PM - May 11, 2018

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