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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

October 28, 2019

Front Page Feature Photo By SUSAN HOYT

Three of the five otters living in the Herring Cove area.
Front Page Feature Photo By SUSAN HOYT ©2019

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Fish Factor: Stakeholders Will Discuss Sea Otters' Impact on Fisheries in Southeast Alaska By LAINE WELCH - They are certainly cute but the voracious appetites of sea otters continue to cause horrendous damage to some of Southeast Alaska’s most lucrative fisheries.  

How best to curtail those impacts will be the focus of a day long stakeholders meeting  set for November 6 in Juneau.

“All of the people who have anything to do with the otters hopefully will all be in the same room at the same time,” said Phil Doherty, co-director of the Southeast Alaska Regional Dive Fisheries Association (SARDFA) based in Ketchikan.

A 2011 report by the McDowell Group showed that otter predation on sea cucumbers, clams, urchins, crabs and other shellfish cost the Southeast economy nearly $30 million over 15 years. And their population has skyrocketed since then.

Four hundred otters were reintroduced to Southeast by the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game from Amchitka Island in the 1960s after nearly being wiped out by fur traders at the turn of that century. The otters, which rose to nearly 26,000 in the latest assessment updated in 2014, are under federal protection and managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The animals can grow up to 100 pounds and typically eat the equivalent of a quarter of their weight each day.

Last year, at the urging of 20 Southeast towns, organizations and Native groups, the Alaska Senate passed a resolution  asking for the state to take over otter management and to provide for more protections.

“If the population continues to go unchecked, predation from sea otters inevitably threatens the future of dive and crab fisheries, jeopardizing hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of dollars in economic activity,” Senator Bert Stedman (R-Sitka) wrote in a statement.

One suggested solution has been to allow increased hunting by Native Alaskans, the only people allowed to do so, and lowering the Native blood “eligibility” to one-quarter of a percent.  But Doherty said at a growth rate estimated at between 12 and 14 percent a year, hunting can’t keep up with the population. Another problem is restrictions on what Natives are allowed do with the otters they hunt.

“The Marine Mammal Protection Act clearly states what Alaskan coastal Natives can do with sea otters,” Doherty explained. “They have to produce a finished product that is in the tradition of Native art and how they’ve used them over the years. They cannot harvest sea otters and sell just the pelt on the open market.”   

Patrick Lemons, Alaska chief of marine mammal management for the USFWS said last year that the Marine Mammal Protection Act limits the agency’s response and they cannot intervene to protect commercial fisheries until a species is at “optimum sustainable population.”

The agency recently put the Southeast region’s otter carrying capacity at 77,000, Doherty said. 

“Until we’re at that carrying capacity, they will manage the sea otters in a very conservative mode. And once we get to 77,000 otters, we can kiss some of these industries goodbye – and it is not just the dive fisheries. The Dungeness crab fishery here in Southeast is being severely impacted and otters eat king and Tanner crab, so there’s going to be impacts on all of the shellfish fisheries.”  

While the upcoming meeting will provide a valuable exchange, Doherty is not optimistic about the outcomes.

“Because the otters are so protected within the Marine Mammal Protection Act, I don’t think anything is going to change the tide of the sea otter population here in Southeast Alaska.”  

The day long Nov. 6 otter meeting will take place at the Andrew P. Kashevaroff Building in Juneau. It is free and open to the public. - More...
Monday PM - October 28, 2019

Alaska: Grand Camp Convention Elects New Officers - The Alaska Native Brotherhood and Alaska Native Sisterhood met in Anchorage for the annual Grand Camp convention at Alaska Pacific University Campus earlier this month. The annual meeting occurs at varying locations based on local camps’ invitation to host the convention.

This convention was a historic event all around as the first woman as the ANB Grand Camp President was elected in the ANB's 107-year history. The members also witnessed the signing of HB 126 establishing November of each year as Alaska Native Heritage Month in Alaska. Also of historical significance, the U.S. Mint attended and unveiled a $1 gold coin in honor of Elizabeth Peratrovich and her Civil Rights activism for Alaska's Native People, which will be available next year. The convention also celebrated and shared their Alaska Native culture with Peratrovich family members, many Alaska tribal leaders, political leaders, the U.S. Mint Chief Administrator Patrick Hernandez, and staff, guests and delegates.

The ANB and ANS have as their mission to better the lives of Native people and their families; to fight for civil rights and land rights for all Native people; to share the cultural knowledge, wisdom, and artistic beauty of Native tribal societies; and to strive for a spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood among all people.

The purpose of convention is to elect officers, receive reports of officers and committees, and to consider other business that may arise.

The new Officers for the 2019-2020 year which begins October 1 and ends September 30 the following year are: - More...
Monday PM - October 28, 2019


Ketchikan: Long-Term Layup of M/V Malaspina Announced – The Alaska Marine Highway System announced Thursday that the M/V Malaspina will be placed in unmanned, long-term layup status in Ketchikan, Alaska effective Jan. 10, 2020. The Malaspina will end revenue service when it arrives in Ketchikan on approximately Dec. 2, 2019.

The Malaspina was scheduled for overhaul this winter, and a preliminary investigation revealed extensive steel replacement was needed. The repair work for the 56-year-old vessel was estimated to be at least $16 million, this is in excess of the available budget and cannot be completed at this time. - More...
Monday PM - October 28, 2019

Alaska: Dunleavy administration announces major grant to aid in rural youth homelessness – Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy and Dr. Tamika Ledbetter, commissioner of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, announced Thursday from the governor's home in Wasiilla a recurring two-year grant of $1.65 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for new programs to prevent and treat youth homelessness across rural Alaska. The Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program requires a variety of stakeholders to participate in the decision-making process, including Youth Action Boards composed of youth who are or have been homeless.

“This partnership between local, state and federal stakeholders is a leading example of utilizing resources to spur new programs aimed at addressing Alaska’s homeless youth. While many existing programs are adult-led, this youth-led grant can change the course of our homeless youths’ lives to become productive members of society by focusing on training and education rather than food and shelter only,” Dunleavy said. “I look forward to seeing the evolution of this grant and the many ways it will propel our youth to a brighter and safer future.” - More...
Monday PM - October 28, 2019

Alaska: New Legislation Introduced To Strengthen Federal Investments in Researching Ocean Acidification and Effects on Coastal Communities – Bipartisan legislation has been introduced by U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) that would reauthorize the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation, which lapsed in 2012.

S. 2699, the Ocean, Coastal and Estuarine Acidification Necessitates (OCEAN) Research Act, strengthens investment in research and monitoring of poorly-understood acidification processes in coastal and estuarine areas, and engages coastal communities and the seafood industry through an Advisory Board and collaborative research grants. 

Ocean acidification, a consequence of carbon dioxide forming acids when dissolved in seawater, is harmful for shellfish, coral reefs, and other marine life that are crucial for healthy ecosystems and coastal economies. In coastal areas, acidification may interact with warming waters, harmful algal blooms, and low-oxygen “dead zones,” with potential multiplicative detrimental effects. Researchers have identified southern Massachusetts and Narragansett Bay as “acidification hotspots,” making the more than $500 million Massachusetts shellfish industry particularly vulnerable. In Alaska, natural carbon-rich upwelling zones make the coasts especially susceptible to acidification, potentially threatening the shellfish industry and important food sources for salmon.

“As America’s leading seafood producer and home to more coastline than the contiguous Lower 48 states combined, Alaska is particularly vulnerable to changes in ocean conditions,” said Senator Sullivan“Decreasing balance in ocean pH levels can threaten our fish species and coastal ecosystems, and, by extension, the very livelihood of our commercial fisheries and coastal communities. Policymakers in Washington—and all stakeholders—must rely on the best, most up-to-date data in order to develop effective responses to the challenge, which is why this legislation is so important. I thank my colleague Senator Markey, who represents another major American seafood producer, for joining me in championing invaluable scientific research and the health of our oceans.” - More...
Monday PM - October 28, 2019


Alaska: Superior Court Approves Better Elections Initiative Petition  – The Alaska Superior Court today certified the Alaskans for Better Elections Initiative, clearing the way for signature gathering to begin. The ruling overturns the Division of Elections’ initial denial of their application - made on the advice of Attorney General Kevin Clarkson - and allows the initiative to move forward to appear on the ballot next year.

“With the court allowing this initiative to move forward, the path is clear for Alaskans to usher in cleaner, fairer, and more open elections,” said Jason Grenn, a Co-Chair of the ballot group and former independent State Representative for District 22 in West Anchorage. “Alaskans will now have the opportunity to choose real structural reform to improve our elections.”

The court’s decision comes after the nonpartisan group Alaskans for Better Elections (“ABE”) challenged the Attorney General’s opinion(PDF) that the initiative violates the Alaska Constitution's “single-subject” rule. ABE’s attorneys argued that the elements of the initiative clearly concerned the single subject of election reform - an argument with which Superior Court Judge Yvonne Lamoureux agreed, concluding, “The sole legal question is whether the proposed initiative embraces one general subject. The answer is yes.”  Judge Lamoureux agreed with ABE that the initiative clearly complies with 50 years of Alaska Supreme Court precedent in which the single subject-rule has been applied.

Sponsors of the initiative say it would reform Alaskan elections by putting an end to secret "dark money" - most of which comes from outside Alaska - that big-money spenders use to anonymously influence Alaska’s elections. It would open Alaska's primary elections to all Alaskans, regardless of political party affiliation. Further, it would also give voters the option to rank candidates in general elections, or, if they choose, voters can vote for just one candidate as they do now. - More...
Monday PM - October 28, 2019

Analysis: What is 'dark money'? 5 questions answered By RICHARD BRIFFAULT - With the 2020 campaign season upon us, “dark money” is again in the news.

Maine’s Republican Sen. Susan Collins has decried what she contends is a “dark money” campaign against her. Montana’s Gov. Steve Bullock has made opposition to dark money a centerpiece of his Democratic presidential campaign.

But what exactly is “dark money,” and why is it considered a problem?

As a law professor who studies campaign finance, I’d like to answer those questions and explain how improved disclosure laws could shed some light on dark money.

1. What is ‘dark money’?

Election campaigns run on money.

Money pays for salaries, travel – and especially advertising. Candidates who are not personally wealthy depend on contributions to cover those costs, or on supportive spending by political parties and other political groups. Since the Watergate scandal in the 1970s, federal laws have imposed limits on political contributions and required that candidates disclose to the Federal Election Commission the sources of most donations used in federal campaigns. Most states have similar laws governing their elections.

In the first several decades after the enactment of disclosure requirements, most federal campaign spending was disclosed. But changing campaign practices, particularly the growing role of outside groups that are neither candidate committees nor political parties, has enabled some large donors to hide more of their giving. Starting in 2010, campaign finance observers at the Sunlight Foundation began to refer to some of these unregulated funds as “dark money.” The term was popularized by a best-selling 2016 book by Jane Mayer.

“Dark money” refers to campaign money whose sources are not disclosed. An expenditure – for example, for a television ad criticizing an opponent – will often be publicly reported to the FEC but not the identities of the people, firms or organizations that pay for it. - More...
Monday PM - October 28, 2019

Genetics reveal Pacific subspecies of fin whale

Genetics reveal Pacific subspecies of fin whale;
New findings highlight diversity of marine mammals

Fin whales are the second largest species of whale, sleek and streamlined in shape, and can be distinguished by their asymmetrical head coloration. The left lower jaw is mostly dark while the right jaw is mostly white.
Photo By Paula Olson/NOAA Fisheries

Alaska - Northern Pacific: Genetics reveal Pacific subspecies of fin whale; New findings highlight diversity of marine mammals - New genetic research has identified fin whales in the northern Pacific Ocean as a separate subspecies, reflecting a revolution in marine mammal taxonomy as scientists unravel the genetics of enormous animals otherwise too large to fit into laboratories.

"The increasing study of cetacean genetics is revealing new diversity among the world's whales and dolphins that has not been previously recognized," said Eric Archer, a geneticist at NOAA Fisheries' Southwest Fisheries Science Center (SWFSC) in La Jolla, California. Archer is the lead author of the identification of the new subspecies of fin whale.

"There's definitely more diversity out there than has been on the books," he said. "There has been a wave of progress in cetacean taxonomy."

Fin whales are the second-largest whale on earth and the fastest whales in the ocean, which made them one of the last whale species hunted to the edge of extinction. Whalers killed about 46,000 fin whales in the North Pacific Ocean from 1947 to 1987. They are also one of the least known large whale species. They mainly roam the open ocean, farther from coastlines where they might be seen and studied more easily.

Scientists from NOAA Fisheries, Ocean Associates Inc., Cascadia Research Collective, Tethys Research Institute, and Universidad Autónoma de Baja California Sur, identified the new subspecies. Their findings were published in an article in the Journal of Mammalogy, naming it Balaenoptera physalus velifera, which means "carrying a sail" in Latin.

"We don't get a lot of (genetic) material from them," Archer said. However, advancing technologies allowed Archer and his colleagues to extract the detail they needed from samples at the SWFSC. The center's Marine Mammal and Turtle Molecular Research Sample Collection is one of the largest collections of marine mammal genetic material in the world. They obtained additional samples from museums and other collections. - More...
Monday PM - October 28, 2019


MONEY MATTERS: SUDDENLY ALONE: A FINANCIAL CASE STUDY OF WIDOWHOOD BY MARY LYNNE DAHL - For married couples, becoming single again, whether from divorce or being widowed, is traumatic and creates many questions about money. This article will look at widowhood first, then divorce in a separate article and will examine the effects on your money from each event. The articles will be formatted as case studies, using real life people, under false names, to illustrate the issues, problems and solutions recommended in each case.

The first case study is a 64 year old woman we will call Elizabeth. Her 71 year old husband has died suddenly from a heart attack, leaving her to manage their finances on her own. She has not been very involved with their money, having spent many years raising their children, now grown and independent (thankfully). She has not worked outside the home since the birth of their third child 29 years ago. She has several pressing issues that she needs to deal with and is very unsure of herself to make the right decisions on each issue. She sought help from a certified financial planner in her town. Their discussions centered on the problems she faced, the fear she was experiencing and the goals she was seeking.

In brief, her circumstances were as follows:

1. Her husband had retired a few years before his death and had been getting Social Security and a pension from his government job. She was unaware of the benefits that might be payable to her from either source of income. Her husband had been a very good provider and had handled all of the finances for many years, including pensions, mortgages, savings and investments. She felt very inadequate having to manage all of these at a time of grief, trauma and vulnerability. She needed to figure out how much income she would now have for her own support, alone. - More...
Monday PM - October 28, 2019

MICHAEL REAGAN: Madness in the Middle East - President Trump says he wants to get our troops out of the “blood-stained sand” of the Middle East.

Most sane Americans would agree with that goal and hope he’s successful.

Unfortunately, the people in charge of our foreign policy are not sane, as they proved after Trump yanked a few dozen U.S. soldiers out of Northern Syria.

Trump’s sensible decision to let the Turks, Syrians and Russians figure out how to police their own backyards without our help brought him strong criticism from every political side.

Democrats and the liberal media’s pundits railed against it, but so what? They’re automatically against anything Trump does.

The president also got heavy bipartisan grief for allegedly betraying the Kurds, our trusted and state-less allies who lost 11,000 of their soldiers while helping us and Syrian democratic rebel forces defeat Isis.

Retired military leaders – many of the same ones who’ve been mismanaging our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11 – and the neoconservative hawks in the Republican Party blasted Trump.- More...
Monday PM - October 28, 2019

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Political Cartoon: A Special Costume
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Domestic Violence Awareness Month: A Call to Action By Col. Barry Wilson - We are near the end of October, and as each day passes, I see the snow progressing down the mountains. As I watch the leaves change from green to vibrant yellow, I also know that October represents something other than the changing of the seasons. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. 

Alaska has many secrets and scars and many wounded women, men, and children. Alaskans are being deprived of beauty in their lives and are being harmed.  Our children are growing up in homes where violence is a daily occurrence.  

Alaska’s rates of domestic violence and sexual assault are unacceptable.  As a 30-year veteran of the Alaska State Troopers, I bore witness to countless acts of domestic violence and sexual assault and have seen the long-lasting impacts of the physical and psychological trauma inflicted on victims.

Recently, the Alaska Department of Public Safety updated policies relating to domestic violence regarding our response and investigation.  Significant advancements in training have occurred over the past five years to improve how domestic violence cases are investigated and how children exposed to violence are interviewed.  DPS will partner with a school district in a pilot project called Handle with Care – an effort to support the continued academic success of children who have experienced or witnessed violence. 

As a law enforcement officer, it is easy for me to focus on solutions that are solely within the criminal justice system. Law enforcement’s role in domestic violence cases is to respond, investigate, and arrest to stop the immediate and ongoing acts of violence. However, as a husband, father, and grandfather, I know that many of the solutions to this crisis lie outside of the criminal justice system. I know that I must be a role model in and out of uniform - especially to children and young men.  - More...
Wednesday PM - October 23, 2019

jpg Opinion

RESPECT ALASKA TRIBES' RIGHTS ON THE TONGASS QUESTION By Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson - The Central Council Tlingit and Haida Constitution declares as our peoples’ inherent right that our tribal government, “Protect, preserve and enhance Tlingit ‘Haa Aani’ and Haida ‘Íitl' tlagáay’, our way of life, its ecosystems and resources, including the right to clean water and access to native foods and traditional practices through our inherent rights to traditional and customary hunting, fishing and gathering.”

Tlingit & Haida works constructively with all elected officials of any political party without partisanship. We aim to be collaborative partners, working together in the best interest of Alaska- our homelands. Yet today we are challenged by our disagreement with Alaska elected officials that support the proposed full exemption of the Tongass National Forest from the Roadless Rule.  Any elected official in Alaska who supports a full exemption, is disregarding their constituents, undermining the public process, and ignoring the sovereign Tribal governments – who’s people have lived and depended on these lands and waters since time immemorial.  - More...
Wednesday PM - October 16, 2019

jpg Opinion

AMHS: WHY SUCH A BIG COST HIKE? By Norma Lankerd - I’m writing because I have a friend and her husband pay for a same day ticket from Ketchikan To Annette Bay, a 45 min. ride on the Lituya which supposedly made specifically to run between Annette Bay and Ketchikan. (Her cost went up from $206.00 to 286.00) because the ticket was bought the same day.  Then my friend looked online and a ticket one way from Ketchikan To Wrangell is $102.00 and 102.00 back.

SO WHY SUCH A BIG COST HIKE (traveling from Ketchikan To ANB)?

My only beef with AMHS is that the ferry was supposed to run about 6 times a day and 7 days a week just so the people from Metlakatla could have people go to Ktn. To work and go back to Metlakatla on the last ferry.   But the ferry only runs Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun, and Mon. (making a run in the morning leaving Met. At 900a.m., and leave Ktn., at 10:45a.m arriving at Annette Bay at 11:30.  Then heading back to Ketchikan, at 245a.m. arriving in Ketchikan at 3:30p.m.

Our little ferry Lituya was where the driver went free (then) that dropped and our price went to 1/2 price for the driver, then that was dropped and now charged full price for car and  driver. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 16, 2019

jpg Opinion

Ketchikan's Cruise Ship Project By Janalee Gage - For full disclosure, I’m serving my second term on the Ketchikan City Council. These are my views and information I’ve gathered working on the cruise ship project, speaking only for myself as a resident, and not for the council.

The question I’ve heard a lot lately is, why solicit a port expansion Request for Proposals when most residents don't want more tourists? This RFP wouldn’t be looking at expansion; it’s about reconfigurating the port to accommodate ships already visiting Ketchikan.

The question should be: Why haven’t we investigated every opportunity that benefits our community with an RFP? - More....
Saturday PM - October 12, 2019

jpg Opinion

Domestic Violence Will Never Be Tolerated By Amanda Price - He is the monster under my bed, saboteur of my dreams. His résumé includes schoolteacher, felon and, more recently, retired country “gentleman.” He is a specter of my past, a stalker who lurks within waiting to spring into view and set my heart pounding. He is the Devil at my doorstep, progenitor of my greatest fears. Most poignantly, though, his blood is my own. He is my father.

Only last week I was startled awake after 3 a.m. by a house-rattling “bang!” It was him. He was in the hallway outside my closed bedroom door, beating my mother. My mother screamed and, smothered by darkness and too terrified to move I cowered beneath my blankets, trembling as I had so many times more than 45 years before.  - More...
Saturday PM - October 12, 2019

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