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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
August 10, 2017

Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY BALZER

Salmon: It's What's For Dinner
The Harbor Seals were very active Monday at Creek Street. This seal was photographed with its salmon catch.
Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY BALZER ©2017

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Southeast Alaska:
Retention Of King Salmon Prohibited In All Southeast Alaska Salt Waters - Due to poor ocean survival conditions for Chinook (king) salmon, which are persisting in Southeast Alaska and British Columbia, extreme management measures are necessary to restrict harvests in coast wide fisheries that are directed at stocks originating in Southeast Alaska, Northern British Columbia, the Fraser River, and the Washington Coast.

Retention Of King Salmon Prohibited In All Southeast Alaska Salt Waters

A male Chinook in its spawning phase
Photo courtesy USGS (U.S. Geological Survey)

Inseason information from Alaska Department of Fish & Game, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and NOAA surveys off the coast of Oregon, Washington, and the Gulf of Alaska all indicate that poor production conditions are currently occurring and will persist through at least 2018. In particular, Southeast Alaska and British Columbia stocks are experiencing historically low production; many of the affected stocks will not meet escapement goals or management objectives in 2017.

The inseason data and stock specific information cannot be ignored when conservation of wild stocks is the foundation of the Alaska Sustainable Salmon Fisheries Policy and the Pacific Salmon Treaty. Therefore, it is imperative that Alaska offer relief now for these stocks, with a focus on protecting future production.

Quoting a news release, "Although it is a very difficult decision to make, retention of Chinook salmon will cease at 12:01 AM, Thursday, August 10, 2017, in the Southeast Alaska recreational and commercial fisheries and non-retention will continue through September." - More...
Thursday PM - August 10, 2017

Southeast Alaska: Governor Walker Signs Bills on State Ferries and Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Exchange - Governor Bill Walker today signed a trio of bills in Southeast Alaska. Senate Bill 3 reestablishes “best management” standards for the handling of waste water discharged from small commercial passenger vessels – including state ferries – while Senate Bill 33 officially names the two new Alaska Class Ferries currently under construction M/V Tazlina and M/V Hubbard. Senate Bill 88 complements federal legislation to approve a land trade between the United States Forest Service and the Alaska Mental Health Trust. SB 3 was signed in Sitka; SB 33 and 88 were signed in Ketchikan.

“Our small commercial boats and state ferries provide vital transportation services to Alaskans, businesses, and visitors,” Governor Walker said. “These bills acknowledge the effort and hard work of our ferry operators, as well as the pride Alaskans have in our Marine Highway System. I’m honored to sign them both.”

Governor Walker introduced SB 33 after he and Lt. Governor Byron Mallott reviewed hundreds of essays submitted by Alaskan students in a ferry-naming contest. The winners were 7th-grader Malea Voran and 10th-grader Taylor Thompson. Voran chose the Tazlina Glacier, which is named for the Ahtna Athabascan word for “swift river”; Thompson chose Hubbard Glacier, which has been advancing for 100 years. All Alaska ferries are named for glaciers. 

SB 3 reestablishes effective standards the state has relied on for over a decade to make sure waste water discharged from small commercial passenger vessels is managed to avoid environmental harm to Alaska waters.  Those standards had “sun-sunsetted” under the prior statute.  No changes have been made to the standards applicable to large cruise ships, which can accommodate larger, more complicated treatment systems on board. - More...
Thursday PM - August 10, 2017   

Necropsy planned for humpback

Necropsy planned for humpback
Grand Princess Cruise Ship arrived in Ketchikan Wednesday morning with a juvenile humpback whale lodged on her bow. NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement is investigating the death of this humpback whale that was brought into the port of Ketchikan, Alaska Wednesday morning.  NOAA Fisheries had the whale carcass towed to a nearby location suitable for a necropsy to determine the cause of death.  As this is an open and ongoing investigation, NOAA is not able to provide any additional information at this time.
Photo credit: Fred Burk, NOAA Office of Law Enforcement ©2017

Ketchikan: Dead whale wedged on cruise ship By JOHN LEE McLAUGHLIN, Ketchikan Daily News - It wasn’t the type of whale sighting that visiting Colorado sport fisher Graham MacGregor had imagined: a dead humpback wedged in the bow of a massive cruise liner. - Read this Ketchikan Daily News article (Subscription Required)

Ketchikan: Necropsy planned for humpback hit by cruise ship By Leila Kheiry, KRBD - A Princess Cruise Lines ship traveling through Southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage hit a humpback whale that became lodged on the front bulbous bow. - Read or listen to this KRBD article...


Fishermen will have option for electronic monitoring in 2018 - Beginning in 2018, Alaska fishermen, some of whom may not have the space on their vessel or life raft capacity for a NOAA Fisheries observer, will have the option to use an electronic monitoring (EM) system instead.

ishermen will have option for electronic monitoring in 2018

Electronic monitoring (EM) system
Photo courtesy NOAA

NOAA Fisheries is integrating EM into the North Pacific Observer Program for the 2018 fishing year. An EM system uses cameras and associated sensors to passively record and monitor fishing activities-work traditionally accomplished by human observers placed onboard commercial fishing vessels to collect data.

Information collected by observers while aboard commercial fishing vessels is crucial to sustainable management of Alaska's multi-billion dollar fishing industry. NOAA Fisheries restructured the North Pacific Observer Program in 2013 to-for the first time-place fisheries observers on small boats between 40 and 60 feet, and boats harvesting halibut in Alaska. 

Some small boat owners and operators identified unique issues with carrying an observer.

They advocated for the choice to use an EM system instead of carrying an observer.

Boat owners worked with NOAA Fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to develop the EM technology that works best in Alaska for collecting fishery data. The EM systems developed can effectively identify almost all species or species groupings required for management. NOAA Fisheries would use EM to collect catch and bycatch data from vessels while fishing.
"NOAA Fisheries and the Council are making progress in meeting the needs of fishermen by providing an option for electronic monitoring," said Jim Balsiger, NOAA Fisheries Assistant Administrator for the Alaska Region. "This program is a first step toward automating observer data for the very specialized North Pacific fleet. The results will be important as we evaluate this technology's success." - More...
Thursday PM - August 10, 2017


Southeast Alaska
: Final Phase of Wrangell Site Cleanup Underway - The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has contracted with the Anchorage-based environmental cleanup company, NRC Alaska, to construct a monofill to permanently dispose of treated soil from the Wrangell Junkyard site, an action which will complete cleanup of the site.

Lead and other contaminants from the Wrangell Junkyard site posed an imminent and substantial exposure risk to human health from surface water contamination and runoff to the intertidal area of Zimovia Strait.

In 2016, DEC oversaw the first phase of the final cleanup, using more than $6 million from the Oil and Hazardous Substance Release Prevention and Response Fund for the cleanup. That effort resulted in the shipment of 22 drums and 57 containers full of contaminated debris to permitted facilities in the Lower 48. It also left 18,350 cubic yards of treated soil at the site. The soil had been stabilized with EcoBond, which made the lead non-leachable. Though the soil is treated and will not impact surface or ground water, there is threat of ingestion if it is not properly contained in an appropriate disposal site or facility.

“It was much more expensive to ship the treated soil to a landfill facility in the Lower 48 (estimated at $9 million) then to construct a monofill in the Wrangell area ($5.4 million),” said Sally Schlichting, DEC’s Contaminated Sites unit manager. “Over the past six months, we have worked collaboratively with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, City and Borough of Wrangell, and the DEC Solid Waste Program to find a suitable disposal site,” said Schlichting.

The site determined to be most suitable is an inactive DNR rock pit located on state land on Pat’s Creek Road. DEC has requested an additional $5.5 million from the Response Fund in order to properly prepare the site and access road, transport the material, contour the material, and construct a cap that will include a membrane liner, sand layer, rock layer, topsoil, and vegetation. DEC is estimating it will take approximately 2,000 truck trips to move the soil to the monofill site. - More...
Thursday PM - August 10, 2017

Columns - Commentary



DANNY TYREE: The Total Solar Eclipse: One Curmudgeon's Opinion - Have you purchased your $500 bottle of Solar Red Wine?

It's one of countless products created to cash in on the total solar eclipse that will cut a swath 60 to 70 miles wide from Oregon to South Carolina on August 21.

Savvy shoppers can also obtain solar eclipse playing cards, solar eclipse neckties, solar eclipse dresses, glow-in-the-dark cakes and Darkest Hour black cherry soda. Festivals and tours? Oh, yeah! Discovery Channel may even throw together a last-minute "Things The Moon Blocks Your View Of Week," complete with Michael Phelps racing a simulated Buzz Aldrin.

My son Gideon's school is busing students to Nashville to get a better view of the eclipse. I hope the Music City crowd obeys safety warnings and does not generate new stereotypes of the city. ("I'm a-pickin'." "And I'm a-grinnin'." "And I'm a-gettin' my retinas burned beyond repair!")

Yes, NASA and a legion of optometrists are cautioning amateur astronomers not to view the eclipse without certified eye protection. Unfortunately, no one has run an algorithm to determine how many nitwits will flip a car while texting their destination, fall off a cliff while taking a selfie or receive ricochet wounds while shooting the roof out of a Porta Potty so as not to miss a second of the eclipse. - More...
Thursday PM - August 10, 2017


JOHN L. MICEK: Americans are Proud to be Getting Dumber - A North Carolina man walks into a popular Washington D.C. pizzeria and opens fire, telling police upon his inevitable arrest that he came to "self-investigate" a widely debunked conspiracy theory involving former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

In Hollywood, actress and model Jenny McCarthy and others wage a campaign against mandatory vaccinations for children, despite mountains of evidence showing they're the key to preventing debilitating childhood diseases.

At the dinner table, your loudmouthed uncle holds forth on the events of the day, insisting he's right and refusing to accept counter-arguments, even as he mangles facts and disregards clear truths.

Separately, these are amusing - and maybe a little disturbing, anecdotes.

But taken together, they're part of "the death of expertise," a stubborn insistence by the ignoramuses in our midst that everyone is as smart as everyone else; that expert opinion is meaningless and that any attempt to dismiss such claims is just "elitism." - More...
Thursday PM - August 10, 2017

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Climate Deniers

Editorial Cartoon: Climate Deniers
By Pat Bagley ©2017, Salt Lake Tribune
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Opinion - Letter

Wheelchair accessible, cab service By Roger & Gwen McDonald - Sourdough Cabs, owned by Zach Boles, has stepped up to provide handicap, wheelchair accessible, cab service to the disabled and mobility challenged folks in Ketchikan. On Saturday, August 5th, Blueberry Festival day, my wife, who is in a wheelchair, and I called for and used the accessible cab service to enjoy the Festival. - More...
Monday PM - August 08, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Chaotic Commander - In - Tweets By Donald Moskowitz - As a veteran I am concerned with the chaos our Commander-In-Tweets creates with his child-like tweets.  How can our military put faith in him when he continually tweets out ridiculous accusations and false information, and questions advice from his generals?  How can we believe what he says? - More...
Monday PM - August 07, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Health Care Vote By A.M. Johnson - Senator Murkowski, you are in a word, a Fraud. Pure and simple. You and your two RINO cohorts, Collins and McCain own Obamacare Senator, with the projected increases of cost to Alaska and the resulting decline of healthcare access. - More...
Tuesday PM - August 01, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Capital Budget By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Later this week, the Legislature will convene for its third (and hopefully very brief) special session to pass a capital budget. Negotiations with the Senate have been completed and I’m confident that a compromised version of the capital budget will pass out of both bodies. It will meet the minimum needs of the state and it’s residents in terms of infrastructure investment. - More...
Thursday PM - July 27, 2017

Opinion - Letter

PFD's Future in Supreme Court's Hands By Dr. Jack Hickel - Governor Jay Hammond, Permanent Fund founder, knew this time would come – the time when politicians would move to spend the Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) without public consent. Hammond believed in the PFD as Alaskans’ right to share equally in the resource wealth saved in the Alaska Permanent Fund and as a way to protect the Fund. Ever since the start of the PFD in 1983 the dividend has been the politicians’ target for spending. Today, politicians are working to grab a large percentage of the people’s PFD. That is exactly what Hammond and other Alaskans warned against and opposed during past failed attempts. - More...
Thursday PM - July 27, 2017

Opinion - Letter

37th anniversary of the Legislative coup By Ray Metcalfe -June 12, 2017 was the 37th anniversary of the Legislative coup toppling Juneau's State House Representative Jim Duncan's Democratic Majority Caucus. The Legislature had been at a standstill for about three weeks. The Bush Caucus, all Democrats, was unhappy with the share of the legislative pie the Majority was offering. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 25, 2017

Opinion - Letter

The Republican Healthcare Bill is Horrible for Alaska, Regardless of its Name By Ghert Abbott - The first version of the Republican healthcare plan, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) raised premiums, increased deductibles, reduced coverage quality, lowered the subsidies that help people buy insurance, financially penalized senior citizens, and drastically cut Medicaid for rural states, all in order to pay for tax cuts to the top 1%. As a result, 24 million Americans were to lose their health insurance, 45,000 of them Alaskans, of which approximately 1,000 would have been Ketchikan residents. When Don Young provided one of the essential votes in the ACHA’s passage out of the House, he claimed there was no cause for concern as the Senate would substantially improve the legislation. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 25, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Tansy Ragwort By Farrel Lewis - I spent the last two days pulling tansy ragwort in the Cambria area.  I just dropped off five garbage bags full of the stuff at the landfill to be burned.  This is the perfect time to pull it up, after it bolts the roots release far easier from the soil. Unfortunately, you cannot just pull the blooming plants and leave them on the ground to die, doing research on this subject I found out that the seeds will still mature.  These plants need to be disposed of properly. - More..
Tuesday PM - July 25, 2017

Opinion - Letter

RE: Fact versus fiction By Rodney Dial - Summer is a busy time for most of us in Ketchikan. Personally, I have better things to do than respond to Rep. Ortiz’s latest letter, however it presents a great opportunity to show how politicians like Ortiz play the word game to deceive and mislead. For example: - More...
Wednesday PM - July 19, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Re: NRA Propaganda By D Jay O'Brien - The violent images in the NRA video Mr. Chaudhary references are indeed disturbing. The video is a compilation of segments from actual events that have occurred in our cities and on our college campuses since the last election. Is this video clip propaganda or just depictions of the new reality of violence that may be brought upon someone for their beliefs and political leanings? - More...
Wednesday PM - July 19, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Giving Alaska's oil away By Ray Metcalfe - Alaska doesn't have a budget problem; Alaska has bribery problems, and gullible legislator problems. Alaska allows oil companies to extract fair payment for their services from net oil production revenues. Additionally, they keep 90% of our ownership equity; equity other owner states keep. At today's prices, the big three are making over $17 per barrel plus cost of production and delivery from our oil. (See ConocoPhillips' quarterly reports) That's about $9 Million per day, or $3.2 billion per year. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 11, 2017

Opinion - Letter

NRA Propaganda By Norbert Chaudhary - The politically partisan, hate filled NRA recruiting video posted a few days ago is shocking but sadly not so surprising. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 11, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Budget cuts By Liz Bruce - All this reduction in spending is good but the problem is there are so many promised benefits and retirement we can't afford. You sit in a position where you can vote to keep state employee and teacher benefits intact when we can't afford those benefits as a state. New taxes are regressive and too easy to rely on. Our household has not seen an increase in income since 2011 but we have to live within our budget. It is time for the state to quit promising benefits we can't afford. You can't expect taxpayers to always come up with more. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 11, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Fact versus fiction By Rep. Dan Ortiz - As an elected official, it’s my responsibility to keep Alaskans informed with factual and relevant information about the issues that affect them. As I write I’m busy working for you up in Juneau, so here’s a quick rundown of fact versus fiction. - More...
Sunday AM - July 09, 2017

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“Hundreds of Alaskans have reached out to my administration saying health care costs are increasingly unaffordable,” Governor Walker said. “This law will provide relief from large premium hikes for

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