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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

December 31, 2018

Happy New Year 2019

Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY BALZER

Otter's Crab Dinner
Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY BALZER ©2018

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Fish Factor: Fishing Picks and Pans for 2018 By LAINE WELCH - This column that each week focuses on Alaska’s seafood industry will enter into its 28th year in 2019. It began in the Anchorage Daily News in 1991 at the request of longtime former business editor Bill White and has appeared in the ADN ever since. Fish Factor also is featured in more than a dozen weekly papers across Alaska and nationally. The goal is to make all readers more aware of the economic, social and cultural importance of one of Alaska’s oldest and largest industries.  

Here are Fish Factor’s annual Fishing Picks and Pans for 2018 – a no holds barred look back at some of the year’s best and worst fishing highlights, in no particular order, and my choice for the biggest fish story of the year. 

Biggest new industry potential:  Mariculture. Growing shellfish and seaweeds could be a $100 million Alaska industry in 20 years, says a comprehensive state report. Kelp farms are cropping up around Kodiak and, along with food makers, the Dept. of Energy already has its sights on Alaska for biofuels from macroalgae.

Best fish sigh of relief: Many Gulf fishermen began using pots instead of hooks to keep whales from robbing their pricey sablefish catches, called “getting whaled.” 

Best fish visionaries: Tidal Vision of Juneau, for their eco-friendly method of extracting chitin from crab shells, a first in the US. Uses for chitin range from fabrics to filters to pharmaceuticals. 

Best Fish Legislators:  Rep. Louise Stutes (R) Kodiak, Rep. Bryce Edgmon (D) Dillingham, Rep. Dan Ortiz (N), Ketchikan

Best fish knowledge sharers: Alaska Sea Grant

Best Fish Giver – Sea Share, over 225 million fish servings to food banks since 1994. The program began as a way to use bycatch caught in Bering Sea fisheries. 

Trickiest fishing conundrum:  Sea otters vs. crab and dive fisheries in Southeast Alaska 

Most earth friendly fishing town – Kodiak, for generating nearly 100 percent of its electricity from wind and hydropower, and for turning its fish wastes into high quality oils and meals 

Biggest fish WTF? Rick (Rydell) Green being chosen as a special assistant to the AK Dept. of Fish and Game to “restore trust” in the department. Green has no education or experience in fisheries or wildlife and was a talk show host on KENI/Anchorage since 2001.

Scariest fish stories: ocean acidification and warming oceans 

Best daily fish news site:

Best fish watchers: Cook Inlet Keeper, Salmon Beyond Borders

Best new fish economistGarrett Evridge, McDowell Group

Best go to bat for their fish: Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers (GAPP); the fishermen funded/operated Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association

Best fish motivators: The Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association’s Alaska Ocean Cluster Initiative that promotes Blue Economy business ideas and entrepreneurs. 

Best fish mainstream push: The Get Ugly crab campaign by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute. Older crabs with shells that are discolored, scarred or covered with barnacles can comprise 30 percent of the catch in Bering Sea fisheries. The “ugly” crab can be a turn off to buyers.  “It’s what’s on the inside that counts,” the campaign says, adding that the older crab often have better meat fills. 

Biggest fish bust: 25 percent tariffs on nearly all U.S. seafood products going to and from China. China is Alaska’s biggest seafood buyer, purchasing 54 percent of our seafood exports last year valued at $1.3 billion. - More...
Monday PM - December 31, 2018


Electric, Water, Wastewater Rate Increases on City Council's Agenda By MARY KAUFFMAN - The Ketchikan City Council will hold a regular meeting on Thursday, January 3rd. Among the agenda items to be considered by the Council will be the 1st Readings of 3 proposed Ordinances that would increase electrical, water, and wastewater rates. If the City Council approves the 1st Readings of these 3 Ordinances, the next step in the process will be for the City Council to schedule a public hearing date and establish effective dates the rate increases would go into effect.

The meeting will be held in the City Council Chambers and is scheduled to begin at 7:00 PM. As always, there is time scheduled for the public to be heard and provide comments at the beginning of the meeting. The public is invited to attend. For the full agenda and detailed information packets, click here.

Ordinances to be heard Thursday in their First Readings are: Ordinance No. 19-1888 proposing to increasing electrical rates by 3.5%; Ordinance No. 19-1889 proposing to increase water rates by 5.5% and proposing to increase seafood processor water rates by 35% (thirty-five percent); and Ordinance No. 19-1887 proposing to increase wastewater rates by 6.0%.

Proposed Electric Rate Increase Summarized:

The last time electric rates were raised was in March 2016 and Section 8-1 of the Ketchikan City Charter requires a public hearing on any electric rate increases. - More...
Monday PM - December 31, 2018

National: USCG Receives Pay Through Dec. 31st - Concerned about U.S. Coast Guard forces losing a paycheck in the partial government shutdown, the Washington Examiner reported President Trump personally urged his team to find a solution that would allow the administration to make December's $75 million payroll.

Trump is reported by the Washington Examiner to have stepped in last Wednesday, calling on top lawyers and staffers to determine if the Coast Guard could make payroll despite being included in the shutdown.

The shutdown has impacted about 25 percent of the government which included the Department of Homeland Security, which houses the United States Coast Guard.  Other military personnel are housed under the U.S. Department of Defense and they will receive paychecks and are not included in the shutdown as their appropriations were approved earlier by Congress.

At the President's urging according to the Washington Examiner, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Department of Home Land Security and the Coast Guard determined that the rules governing pay to Coast Guard forces requires it be made through the end of the year. It was reported lawyers said that unused funding could be tapped for pay. The OMB had a bit more than the needed $75 million left over from its past continuing resolution appropriation, enough to make this month’s last USCG payroll check.

The U.S. Congress convenes its annual session on January 3 each year unless provisions are made to begin on a different day.

The U.S. House of Representatives has averaged 138 "legislative days" a year since 2001, according to records kept by the Library of Congress. That's about one day of work every three days, or fewer than three days a week. The U.S. Senate will be in session about the same amount or a few days more. If you're an ordinary American worker with two weeks of vacation and federal holidays off, you're likely clocking in around 240 days a year at the office. - More...
Monday PM - December 31, 2018


Fisheries: Salmon may lose the ability to smell danger as carbon emissions rise - The ability to smell is critical for salmon. They depend on scent to avoid predators, sniff out prey and find their way home at the end of their lives when they return to the streams where they hatched to spawn and die.

New research from the University of Washington and NOAA Fisheries' Northwest Fisheries Science Center shows this powerful sense of smell might be in trouble as carbon emissions continue to be absorbed by our ocean. Ocean acidification is changing the water's chemistry and lowering its pH. Specifically, higher levels of carbon dioxide, or CO2, in the water can affect the ways in which coho salmon process and respond to smells.

"Salmon famously use their nose for so many important aspects of their life, from navigation and finding food to detecting predators and reproducing. So it was important for us to know if salmon would be impacted by future carbon dioxide conditions in the marine environment," said lead author Chase Williams, a postdoctoral researcher in Evan Gallagher's lab at the UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences.

The study, appearing online Dec. 18 in the journal Global Change Biology, is the first to show that ocean acidification affects coho salmons' sense of smell. The study also takes a more comprehensive approach than earlier work with marine fish by looking at where in the sensory-neural system the ability to smell erodes for fish, and how that loss of smell changes their behavior.

"Our studies and research from other groups have shown that exposure to pollutants can also interfere with sense of smell for salmon," said Gallagher, senior co-author and a UW professor of toxicology. "Now, salmon are potentially facing a one-two punch from exposure to pollutants and the added burden of rising CO2. These have implications for the long-term survival of our salmon."

The research team wanted to test how juvenile coho salmon that normally depend on their sense of smell to alert them to predators and other dangers display a fear response with increasing carbon dioxide. Puget Sound's waters are expected to absorb more CO2 as atmospheric carbon dioxide increases, contributing to ocean acidification.  - More...
Monday PM - December 31, 2018

Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory agent Gay Sheffield prepares tissue samples for research into the health of bowhead whales.
Photo courtesy Gay Sheffield

Alaska: Bering Sea transforms: ‘We have never been here before’ By PAULA DOBBYN - The Bering Sea is undergoing massive changes that include the dramatic loss of sea ice last winter. 

“We have never been here before,” said Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory agent Gay Sheffield.

Sheffield, who is based in Nome on the Bering Sea’s eastern shore, has seen the change firsthand as she works with communities, tribes,  federal and state agencies, and the general public . “Two marine ecosystems are rapidly merging,” she said. “What happens next is unknown and will potentially affect us all.”

winter months of 2017–2018, according to scientists. John Walsh of the International Arctic Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks attributes it to three things: above average air temperatures during the fall, a very stormy winter and warm water temperatures.

As the ice melted, the thermal barrier separating the northern and southern Bering Sea disappeared, allowing two marine ecosystems to converge. As a result, fish, birds, marine mammals and other marine wildlife have been changing patterns.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center recently released preliminary data from trawl surveys done during 2010, 2017 and again this summer in the northern Bering Sea. The latest survey indicates that the biomass of walleye pollock increased over 5,000 percent compared to 2010 while Pacific cod increased more than 2,000 percent. 

The multiyear gap between surveys has raised many questions about whether the cod and pollock increase came from the southern half of the U.S. Bering Sea or the Russian side of the Bering Sea. Or perhaps the fish have matured in the northern Bering Sea since the last survey. Scientists are not sure. At the same time, some species of forage fish have declined significantly. For example, the biomass of smelts and Arctic cod, important fish to northern Bering Sea marine wildlife, has dropped by 98–100 percent between 2010 and 2017. - More...
Monday PM - December 31, 2018



DAVE KIFFER: 2019: Snarknado returns!! - Last year, my New Year's Resolution was to be less snarky in 2018. 

It just seemed like in an increasingly angry world, it didn't help with me stirring the pot even a little.

Sad to say that by January 7th,  I had already been "snarky" 106 times and the rest of the year was much the same. 

It wasn't that I wasn't mindful of my resolution. Each of the 72,176 times that I was snarky in 2018 caused me a minor pang of conscience, but that didn't stop me. Oh no, I just kept plowing on, rolling my eyes, sighing and letting the clueless have it. It is just so hard to not be snarky when other people do things that absolutely, completely require a snarky response.

For example, in helping my high school senior sift through college options I came across an advertisement for an "on line college" that was trying to prove that it offered just as many amenities as "bricks and mortar" colleges. In fact, the ad noted, Ripoff Tech (not it's real name) has one of the "Most Honored ESports programs in the Northwest." - More...
Monday PM - December 31, 2018


JASE GRAVES: The Year in Askew - With the smells of the holidays (among other things) still hanging in the air, it's time for another one of those annoying "Year in Review" segments that make you want to drown yourself in leftover Rotel dip. But this time, there will be no mention of President Trump's various antics that caused a monsoon of pant wetting on CNN, the dumpster fire (and not the good kind) that was the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings, or the romaine lettuce scare that validated Cinnabon fans everywhere. Instead, I'll focus on the truly important,events of this past year - to me, anyway. 

I'll begin with my eldest and most expensive daughter, who, like thousands of teenagers all over the country, extracted her face from her cell phone screen just long enough to earn her learner's driving permit this past year. Because she also managed to participate in another activity that expended enormous quantities of my time and money, she drove us across town at 6:30 each morning for her high school dance/drill team practice. The upside to this parental abuse was that there are few things more effective at bringing your nervous system (especially the part that controls involuntary buttock clenching) fully awake at that time of day than a novice teenage driver. 

Speaking of nervous system trauma, my middle daughter also achieved a common teenager milestone in 2018 - her first boyfriend. Despite my offering to make her the sole heir of whatever her older sister doesn't spend if she would wait until I've been embalmed to acknowledge the existence of all non-relative males, she became a victim of puppy love. Unfortunately, the only similarities to puppies I could see were lots of whimpering, drooling and worries about bacterial transmission. I also warned the young man in question that my daughter hadn't been wormed lately. (She still isn't talking to me - unless she needs cash.) - More...
Monday PM - December 31, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: Droning in the New Year

Political Cartoon: Droning in the New Year
By Jeff Koterba ©2018, Omaha World Herald, NE
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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KGB By Bob Hays - Being an avid reader of SitNews and Wikipedia, it dawned on me the solution to an ongoing problem with your (and in my heart) fair land: The name of the Borough. As you will see, a simple name change can produce positive effects unforeseen upon initial perusal. I say we change the name to “Edgar Rice Borough”. Before the naysayers declare me an iconoclast and ridiculous, note some of the manifold benefits:

1) This will ditch the Russian spy vibe. Many were perfectly happy with Gateway Borough, however someone had to ruin everything. By adding Ketchikan to Gateway Borough, undercurrents of discord were sown. On top of that, the similarities of the addresses of the City of Ketchikan (334 Front St.) and the Borough (344 Front St.) created a nightmare for the office staff, ruining everything again! (This is the real reason the Borough now resides at the old White Cliff school). Although the effects of the name “KGB” have never been fully investigated, I imagine the financial loss to tourism over the last four decades has been more than chump change. - More...
Monday PM - December 31, 2018

jpg Opinion

Tear down the tax wall; Plan for the working class By Paul Livingston - The role of government is to maintain an environment for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and not to manage the economy. The best government can do is take from some and give to others, picking winners and losers. Government is not a producer of wealth and jobs that creates a bigger tax base and higher standard of living.  More government is not the solution to the problems caused by government. 

Passage of the 16th Amendment, creating the Federal Reserve and Roosevelt’s Square Deal are causes of the problems as they interjected socialism and politics into the science of economic, the allocation of goods and services.  The unintended consequences of socialism are more government, an elitist ruling class, inequalities, corruption and a dead end road for the country.  Socialism is a problem maker and not a problem solver, a wealth consumer and not a wealth creator.           

The solution for the working class is to “Tear down the wall of the income/payroll tax system and repeal the 16th Amendment.”  End direct taxation along with the IRS, income tax, payroll taxes and tax withholding.  - More...
Friday PM - December 31, 2018

jpg Opinion

The United States is First in War, But Trailing in Crucial Aspects of Modern Civilization By Lawrence Wittner - Maybe those delirious crowds chanting “USA, USA” have got something.  When it comes to military power, the United States reigns supreme.  Newsweek reported in March 2018:  “The United States has the strongest military in the world,” with more than two million military personnel and vast numbers of the most advanced nuclear missiles, military aircraft, warships, tanks, and other modern weapons of war.  Furthermore, as the New York Times noted, “the United States also has a global presence unlike any other nation, with about 200,000 active duty troops deployed in more than 170 countries.”  This presence includes some 800 overseas U.S. military bases.

In 2017 (the last year for which global figures are available), the U.S. government accounted for more than a third of the world’s military expenditures - more than the next seven highest-spending countries combined. Not satisfied, however, President Trump and Congress pushed through a mammoth increase in the annual U.S. military budget in August 2018, raising it to $717 billion.  Maintaining the U.S. status as “No. 1” in war and war preparations comes at a very high price. - More...
Monday PM - December 31, 2018

jpg Opinion

Abolish Salmon Hatcheries? By Jay Leo Baldwin - Orcas are starving due to the lack of chinook salmon and other marine life. Cultivating salmon eggs was thought to be the answer to the dwindling salmon stocks.  As early as the late 1800’s the Federal Fisheries Act required fish companies to produce four times the number of salmon fry as were taken of the mature salmon for the season.  Now after more than 100 years of salmon hatcheries the numbers of salmon returning continues to dwindle so much so that user groups are fighting over the last few fish. 

Groups are pressuring the state not to close the fishery, and NOAA is asking the State for ways and means of increasing the availability of chinook salmon for Orcas that are starving,. Seals and sea lions are being found dead on the beach from a bullet probably by fisherman who think seals eat too many salmon. Seals are Orca food, too. - More...
Thursday PM - December 27, 2018

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