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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
December 12, 2011

Front Page Photo By SUSAN HOYT

Ward Cove: Seals
Front Page Photo By SUSAN HOYT


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Fish Factor: Sea Otters & Commercial Dive Fisheries, Can They Coexist? By LAINE WELCH - Sea otters are cleaning out valuable commercial fisheries in Southeast Alaska, and they have been at it for decades.  A second report by the McDowell Group of Juneau updates the financial hit the otters have caused to the region’s fisheries since 2005. Both were done for the Southeast Alaska Regional Dive Fisheries Association (SARDFA), based in Ketchikan.

The reports assess losses to the sea cucumber, geoduck clam, red sea urchin, and Dungeness crab fisheries.  The bottom line - sea otter predation in those fisheries has cost Southeast Alaska’s economy more than $28 million in direct and indirect impacts since 1995. These fisheries employ roughly 625 fishermen and dozens more tender operators and processing workers.

Fishery managers estimate sea otters affect 39 percent of Southeast’s dive fishery harvest areas. And out of 15 Dungeness crab districts, six have large otter populations and Dungie pots have lost nearly 3 million pounds to otters in a decade.

Best estimates say about 19,000 sea otters had taken up residence in Southeast Alaska in 2011.  That number is expected to approach 28,000 by 2015, based on a conservative estimate of otter body weight at 50 pounds, and daily food intake of 20% of bodyweight. The report said   that number of  animals would consume over 10 million pounds of Southeast Alaska’s dive and crab species per year.

The McDowell report draws a grim conclusion, saying “In short, commercial dive fishing and large populations of sea otters cannot coexist in the same waters. In addition, once the commercially viable biomass of crab and macro invertebrates – such as sea cucumbers and geoducks - is gone, it likely will not return given sustained sea otter predation.” - More...
Monday - December 12, 2011

Ketchikan: Alaska Miners Consider New SE Branch - Recently, several individuals from Ketchikan and Prince of Wales met to discuss the formation of a southern Southeast branch of the Alaska Miners Association.

According to a news release from the Southern Southeast Alaska Miners Association Branch, with recent mining developments on Prince of Wales Island, the timing is appropriate to work together to promote the mining industry and it supporting vendors. The Southeast branch will be chaired by Tony Barajas, of Austin Powder, and will also elect other officers and board members.

A formative meeting will be held on Friday, December 16, 2011 at noon, at The Landing. This no-host meeting is open to anyone who is a current member of the Alaska Miners Association or has an interest in learning more about the organization. - More...
Monday - December 12, 2011

Alaska: NOAA extends final decision on listing some ringed and bearded seals as threatened - NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service is extending by up to six months the final decisions on listing four subspecies of ringed seals and two distinct population segments (DPS) of bearded seals as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

Kotzebue Bearded Seal
Photo courtesy NOAA Fisheries

NOAA Fisheries first proposed to list as threatened four subspecies of ringed seals - Arctic, Ladoga, Okhotsk, and Baltic - and two distinct population segments of bearded seals—Beringia and Okhotsk - in December 2010. The proposed listings cited threats posed to these populations from climate model projections of diminishing sea ice, and for Arctic ringed seals, reduced snow cover.

The agency is extending the final decision on listing for up to six months because of a substantial disagreement for Arctic ringed seals and the Beringia DPS of bearded seals, both of which occur in U.S. (Alaska) waters. The disagreement stems from the analysis of model projections of future sea ice habitat, in particular for Arctic ringed seals on-ice-snow cover, and related impacts. This disagreement extends to the magnitude and immediacy of the threats posed to these populations by the projected habitat changes. - More...
Monday - December 12, 2011

Alaska: Alaska Delegation: Take Care of Our Alaska Workers - The Alaska Congressional Delegation is calling on the U.S. Army’s top officials to make sure workers impacted by a recent announcement to reduce civilian personal numbers at Army bases are treated in a manner which recognizes their dedication in support of our troops. The Army has announced it would decrease the total civilian workforce nationwide by 8,741, to include 78 positions in Alaska, to achieve efficiency and cost savings directed by former Secretary Robert Gates.

The Alaska Delegation stressed the Army should use voluntary separation incentives and early retirement incentives to achieve the reduction. They also urged the Army to transfer employees from billets that are no longer authorized to positions that need filled so they can maintain employment with the Army.

The delegation also cited concern for the affected civilians who may be spouses of deployed Alaska-based troops. - More...
Monday PM - December 12, 2011

Ketchikan: Conference of Young Alaskans to Convene in Juneau 2012 - The Institute of the North is hosting a gathering for young Alaskans interested in discussing the state’s rich history, vibrant present and thriving future. The Conference of Young Alaskans is modeled after the Alaska Constitutional Convention of 1955 and provides an opportunity for youth, ages 16 to 25, to meet and discuss current issues and challenges facing the state. This year’s conference is in Juneau, Jan. 4-7.

The 55-person delegation was selected through an application process with an eye toward representing the diversity of people and cultures in the state. More than half of the delegates are from outside of Anchorage and 30 percent are Alaska Native. In all, 29 communities will be represented, including strong delegations from Fairbanks, Nome, Bethel, Kotzebue, Ketchikan and Sitka.

Six youth from Ketchikan and the surrounding area will attend the conference: Jennifer Chaudhary, Jodie Gatti, Beau Poppen-Abahijian, Drake Goodson, Signe Englert (Thorne Bay, AK), and Jean Bennett (Craig, Prince of Wales, AK).

The last conference convened at Alyeska Resort in Girdwood in 2009 and drew young adults and teens from across the state. The Institute of the North recognized the value in providing young Alaskans a venue to plan Alaska’s future and the importance of encouraging young adults to identify themselves as the next generation of Alaska leaders. - More...
Monday - December 12, 2011

Alaska: Bering Sea crabbers promote changes to benefit crew - Alaska Bering Sea crabbers are proposing changes to their fishing operations to benefit the “boots on deck.”

Since 2005 the crab fisheries have operated under a “catch share” system in which long time participants get a set amount of crab to catch during extended seasons.

Now, to help their crews become more invested in the Bering Sea fisheries, boat owners are proposing  a preferential right of first offer to eligible crew when crab quota comes up for sale.  

“The right of first offer would provide a tremendous opportunity for captains and crew to take a greater ownership stake in the fishery. It’s aimed at those who wish to make crabbing a career instead of just a seasonal job,” said Mark Gleason, Executive Director of Alaska Bering Sea Crabbers, a harvester trade group.

Many cooperative members voluntarily capped their harvest fees at 65% for Bristol Bay red king crab and 50% for Bering Sea snow crab for the 2011 fishery and plan to continue to do so into the future. - More...
Monday - December 12, 2011


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letter Young people step forward By Cecelia Johnson - This year I willt not run for re-election to Tribal Council.  I would like to put my energy toward the Advisory Health Board.   - More...
Friday AM - December 09, 2011

letter Proposed Tonka Timber Sale Comment Deadline By Paul Olson & Carol Cairnes - The Tongass Conservation Society (TCS) and the Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community (GSACC) have several concerns about the Forest Service’s proposed Tonka Timber Sale (Tonka).  The project would cut 25 to 53 million board feet of old growth forest from the Lindenberg Peninsula near Petersburg.  This area is heavily used by the public and past logging has already removed too much winter deer habitat.  The Forest Service then proposes towing log rafts for storage in an important Dungeness crab fishing spot - the “Pothole” – despite significant risks to shellfish populations and habitat.  Proceeding with another sale here is unfair to deer hunters and crab fishermen as well as the taxpaying general public that must fund yet another deficit timber sale. - More...
Friday AM - December 09, 2011

letter A National Security Threat? By Donald A. Moskowitz - This letter liberally references Brig. Gen. Jim Cash’s article entitled “Another Government Cover-up” in the January 2011 edition of Military.  I agree with his assessment that the contrail observed off the coast of California in November 2010 resembled a missile launch contrail, not an aircraft contrail. - More...
Friday AM - December 09, 2011

letter 70th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor By U.S. Sen. Mark Begich - Today, 70 years later the ‘date that will live in infamy’ continues to remind each of us of the great sacrifices that our men and women in the military make for our country. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 07, 2011

letter The regulation invasion stifles job creation By Rep. Don Young - Our nation’s unemployment rate is hovering at a staggering 9 percent. After countless promises and pledges by Washington, out-of-work Americans across the nation are growing sick and tired of sound bites and handouts. They are tired of unemployment benefits instead of gainful employment. They are skeptical that the government actually knows how to get Americans back to work. They should be. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 07, 2011

letter Nomination of Caitlin Joan Halligan By A.M.Johnson - I know, I know, I've submitted several items for publication this month. Just so much crud and political corruption involved to not want to scream at the deterioration of this great nation at the hands of what must be a compromised Senator. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 07, 2011

letter Substance Abuse in Ketchikan Discussion By Lisa Scarborough - The Ketchikan Wellness Coalition (KWC) is currently surveying our community to reassess the needs and issues that were documented in the Compass II Survey performed by the United Way in 2006. We have sent around our survey over the last year and are now moving on to different forums for you to come and voice your opinion as well as participate in brainstorming solutions and needs in the area of Substance Abuse. We chose this topic for our first forum because it was the top issue and concern out of the 600+ surveys that were submitted by you the people of Ketchikan, Saxman and Ward Cove. - More...
Monday PM - December 05, 2011

letter Open Letter: "A letter to Lisa" By A. M. Johnson- I am submitting to you a sure fire way to save 1.5 trillion dollars from government waste. As stated, this took all of a few minutes to comprise and complete. And you wonder why Congress' approval rating is in single digits. - More...
Monday PM - December 05, 2011

letter Be seen, be safe By Cheryl Henley - This weekend there was an editorial about winter driving safety in town. Going North about 4:30 tonight, a school bus stopped, lights flashing, and 3 little children got off the bus at Densley Road. The walked across the street and up their road. Not one child had a reflective tape on their jackets, or a light source with them. - More...
Monday PM - December 05, 2011

letter NUTCRACKER 2011 By Kathy Flora - Ketchikan is in for a wonderful surprise. There's an alchemy that happens when you build something larger than yourself that measurably helps a community help itself. You feel different, because you made a difference you can see to people whose gratitude you can feel. - More...
Monday PM - December 05, 2011

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