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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
December 23, 2019

Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY BALZER

Merry Christmas
Fireworks, something a little different this year in Ketchikan's annual Boat Parade that was held Sunday.
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Fish Factor: Small cod fishery will open in Alaska Gulf waters in 2020  By LAINE WELCH - They say good things come in small packages and that’s the case for Alaska cod fishermen heading into the new year. 

A small cod fishery will occur in Gulf state waters (out to three miles) for 2020, putting to rest speculation that no cod would be coming out of the Gulf next year. 

A  catch quota of about 5.6 million pounds, down from 10.2 million pounds, will be split among five regions: Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet, Kodiak, Chignik and the South Alaska Peninsula, with limitations on gear and staggered openers.

That will be a relief to thousands of Alaskans whose jobs are tied to the fishing industry. Unlike other coastal communities that run on summer salmon, P-cod typically kicks off fishing on New Year’s Day in many fishing towns and keeps workers busy at seafood processing, transports, fuel docks, grocery stores, repair shops and other businesses throughout the year. 

It didn’t make the mainstream press but in an unprecedented move earlier this month, fishery managers shut down cod fisheries for 2020 in Gulf federal waters (from three to 200 miles) due to a collapse of the stock from “(un)natural causes.”   

The fish were clobbered by a three year heat wave starting in 2014 that raised water temperatures by as much as five degrees. The shift hurt several cod year classes and their offspring by throwing their metabolism and diets off kilter.  Cod numbers decreased from nearly 250.5 million pounds in 2014 to under 30 million pounds in 2018 and surveys this year showed more declines. 

 “Think of no salmon returns to Bristol Bay. Or a shutdown of pollock for the A season in the Bering sea. This is the kind of seismic impact the changes in climate have wrought with cod,” John Sackton, founder of SeafoodNews.com, wrote it his Winding Glass column titled “Lack of Cod killing Alaskan Communities, as State and Council Punt on any Relief.”

When making their decisions, fishery managers must consider other cod-dependent users. By law, strict apportionments must accommodate the diet of sea lions, a protected species. 

“The closure they’ve announced this year is not because of overfishing or a stock collapse.  It’s really because of federal mitigation measures for Steller sea lions,” said Doug Vincent-Lang, Commissioner of the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game.

The state cod fisheries are determined by surveys and stock models done by federal overseers who then break out the catch among all Alaska fishing regions and gear types. 

While some fishermen questioned the opener, suggesting it would be best to “let the Gulf cod rest a bit,” Commissioner Vincent-Lang defended the decision and called it a “balancing act.” 

“This decision is a carefully thought out and conservative approach to recognize the balance between conservation and Alaska’s right to manage our own resources. We are confident that we’ve struck that balance in this decision and will be monitoring to avoid over harvest yet provide our fishermen the opportunity to fish,” he said in an email message.

Governor Mike Dunleavy added in a statement that he trusts ADF&G to monitor and manage the fishery in a way that avoids overharvest and yet provides an opportunity to fish and provide tax revenues for fishing towns. 

Around 225 boats of all sizes fish for cod in the Gulf of Alaska, including trawlers, longliners, pot boats and jiggers, each an independent business supporting several families.

The Gulf cod outlook is grim with surveys showing very few tiny cod in the water. Worse, an even hotter blob appears to be on the horizon, said Steve Barbeaux, a scientist with NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center. 


The future is getting harder to predict, said Nat Nichols, area groundfish manager at ADF&G in Kodiak, because decades of robust data used to assess the stocks no longer apply.

“All of a sudden all the data you collected in the 80s and 90s about how ocean conditions affect certain stocks start to become a lot less useful for making predictions because it's so different than anything we've seen,” Nichols said. “If you're trying to compare ocean conditions this year and make a forecast for next year, that works pretty well if you've seen these conditions before. But if you haven't, it starts to fall apart pretty quick.”  

Meanwhile, Trident Seafoods announced last month that it will close its Sand Point processing plant at Sand Point for the winter. It is the first such closure at Sand Point since 1898 when it was founded by a San Francisco fishing company as a cod fishing station and trading post.           

Pacific cod is Alaska’s second largest groundfish catch by volume topping 510 million pounds in 2018 (a 22% decrease from 2017), according to an economic status report by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council plan team.  The combined dockside value of Bering Sea and Gulf cod catches in 2018 totaled $225 million, reflecting a 59% drop in the Gulf to just $29 million. 

There will be a 2020 cod fishery in the Bering Sea of 305.5 million pounds, down by nearly one million pounds. - More...
Monday PM - December 23, 2019

Alaska: GAO: Forest Service Has Not Complied with LWCF Act -  In a new report requested and released last week by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Forest Service has not complied with a provision in the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Act that limits the amount of land the agency can acquire using LWCF money. 

The Government Accountability Office found that between fiscal years 2013 and 2017, the federal government acquired more than 850,000 acres of land in the United States. By law, no more than 15 percent of the acreage the Forest Service acquires using LWCF funds can be west of the 100th Meridian. The Government Accountability Office found that the Forest Service’s acquisition far exceeded that limit, with about 80 percent occurring in the western U.S. 

“This report highlights the need for continued oversight of LWCF and demonstrates that the Forest Service needs to pay greater attention to requirements in the LWCF Act when the agency submits land acquisition proposals to Congress,” Murkowski said. - More...
Monday PM - December 23, 2019

17th Annual Sam Pitcher Memorial Scholarship Recipients Announced

17th Annual Sam Pitcher Memorial Scholarship Recipients Announced
Back row, L to R: Joshua Ryan, Gabe Dahl, Sophie Cron, Anna Hout.
Front row, L to R: Evan Gunn, Kristall Bullock, Katherine Leach.


Ketchikan: 17th Annual Sam Pitcher Memorial Scholarship Recipients Announced - Seven Ketchikan music students have been selected to receive 2020 Sam Pitcher Music Scholarships! One $1,500 scholarship plus six $700.00 scholarships have been awarded. The scholarships will help the recipients attend summer music camps.

Joshua Ryan, 11th grade, will receive the $1,500.00 scholarship to attend Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan where he plans to attend a Trombone Institute in addition to their regular High School Summer Program. Josh’s primary instrument is the trombone, but he also plays the French horn and sings with the high school choirs. He has been selected to play with the Southeast Honor Band. Josh hopes to become a professional musician with knowledge and interest in both classical and jazz music.

The six students who have been awarded $700.00 scholarships to attend Sitka Fine Arts Camp are:

Kristall Bullock, 8th grade, who plays both the clarinet and alto saxophone. She is interested in both classical and jazz music, and hopes to teach music one day.

Sophie Cron, 8th grade, plays the French horn and trumpet along with singing in the choir. She hopes that music will always be a part of her life in some way.

Gabe Dahl, 7th grade, plays the piano and trumpet. His primary interest is jazz with hopes of one day becoming a professional musician.

Evan Gunn, 7th grade, is new to Ketchikan. He plays the baritone and recently started playing drums. Jazz is his primary interest.

Anna Hout, 10th grade, plays French horn, trumpet, piano, and has recently started teaching herself rhythm guitar. She is interested primarily in classical music. She was selected to play both French horn and piano with the Southeast honor Band.

Katherine (Lexie) Leach, 7th grade, plays the trumpet and electric bass. Her primary interest is jazz. Lexie is interested in learning to play more instruments. She would like to become a music producer.

The Sam Pitcher Music Scholarship Fund was started following Sam’s death in 2003 at age 16. Sam’s passion was music. He participated in all the Kayhi bands and all the McPherson jazz bands, as well as The Rubber Band (rock). Sam attended both The Sitka Fine Arts Camp and Interlochen Arts Camp in Michigan. - More....
Monday PM - December 23, 2019

Whales use stealth to feed on fish

Whales use stealth to feed on fish
A humpback whale lunges at a large patch of anchovies while the anchovies are also under threat from sea lion and avian predators.
Photo courtesy Cascadia Research Collective; NMFS Permit 16111


Biology: Whales use stealth to feed on fish - Small fish are speedy and easy to scare. So how is it that a giant humpback whale, attacking at speeds about as fast as a person jogs, is able to eat enough fish to sustain itself? Combining field studies, laboratory experiments and mathematical modeling, researchers at Stanford University have found a surprising answer to this seemingly paradoxical feat: Whales capture fish using stealth and deception.

From a conservation and ecological standpoint, this work also derived the first quantitative estimates of how many fish humpbacks consume in a single feeding event and over time.

"Lunge-feeding whales need dense concentrations of prey to forage effectively, yet fish schools could easily disperse and render lunge-feeding ineffective if they sensed a threat," said David Cade, lead author of the paper about this work, published Dec. 23 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "We were interested in finding why these schools of fish did not run from this huge, looming predator."

The researchers conducted lab experiments to measure anchovies' escape reaction to a virtual whale - a widening dot, representing the expanding maw of a lunging whale. Models that informed how quickly the dot widened were based off recordings from whale-mounted video tags that the researchers deployed in Monterey Bay and Southern California. They then used results from these experiments to predict how many fish would escape from an oncoming whale based on their reaction times.

"One of the innovations of this study was to use predator data to inform the models we played back to fish," said Cade, who was a graduate student in the lab of Jeremy Goldbogen, assistant professor of biology at Stanford, during this research. "This allowed us to discover that the range of values at which a fish responds to an oncoming predator are all passed nearly simultaneously at a point when the whale opens its mouth, suggesting that by precisely timing its engulfment, the whale can avoid triggering escape responses in fish."

Through these experiments, models and field observations, the researchers determined that whales overcome shortcomings in speed and maneuverability by waiting to open their mouths until they are very close to the fish - essentially a whales' way of sneaking up on their prey. The researchers did not see the same delays in whales pursuing krill, which are less reactive to looming predators.

"This made sense when we realized that fish have been evolving to avoid being eaten by smaller predators for at least 100 million years, but lunge-feeding is a relatively new feeding strategy, evolutionarily speaking," said Cade. - More...
Monday PM - December 23, 2019

Health : The holidays remind us that grief cannot be wished away By HEATHER SERVATY-SEIB - The year-end holidays are a time of social gatherings, traditions and celebrations. They can also be a time of revisiting and reflection.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2.8 million people die each year in the U.S. If we conservatively estimate four or five grievers per death, there are 11 to 14 million people who are experiencing their first holiday season without the presence of an important person who has died.

No matter how long it has been since a family member or friend has died, the holiday season can understandably bring grief to the forefront of our minds. Lost loved ones are no longer physically present, and our rituals can remind us of their absence in poignant ways. And it can be challenging for others to know how best to comfort and offer support.

As a licensed psychologist and professor of counseling psychology, my clinical and research interests for the past 25 years have focused on death, dying, grief and loss. A primary goal of my work has been to “make death talkable.”

How do you speak of death at a time like this?

But how, you might ask, can death be talkable during the holidays? The general tendency within U.S. society is to avoid the topic. In the process, Americans tend to avoid not only our own grief, but also the grief of others.

My sense is that a good bit of this avoidance is connected to misunderstandings about the grieving process and problems with what society views as necessary, critical and “normal” for grief expression.

Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s work with dying people, beginning in the mid-60s, was groundbreaking and facilitated increased conversations about death among health professionals, dying patients and their family members.

And yet the five stages that she observed in dying patients – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – have taken on a life of their own. They have been applied well beyond the dying process, and have become a kind of prescription for grief – an unfolding that Kübler-Ross specifically warned against in her 1969 book.

When people focus on grief as a linear process with distinct stages and a clear endpoint, they are seeking to control and contain an aspect of life that is overwhelming, unpredictable and confusing. Although quite understandable, the attempt to put grief in a nice neat box has its costs. Most specifically, grieving individuals can begin to judge their own experiences, which can lead to just as much, if not more, pain than the grief itself. - More...
Monday PM - December 23, 2019



TOM PURCELL: Amid Such A Clatter, Here's What Really Should Matter - ‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through America, people were angry or delighted, and most uncomplimentary.

Despite it being the time of the year to unite, gather and share good cheer, the president’s impeachment turned the country on its ear.

“High crimes for certain,” his opponents did claim, “because since his election we’ve been taking aim.”

“Not so fast,” did his defenders retort, “’high crimes’ demand the highest bar and your argument fell short.

“He’s an unconventional president,” his defenders continued, “uncouth to be sure, but with good intent.

“The economy is flourishing, which is just what we need, to address other challenges and do so quickly indeed.

“The deficit is massive and requires trimming, our failing health care, roads and schools also demand reckoning.”

“But what of the environment?” his opponents declare. “This president denies it’s an issue and plumb doesn’t care. - More...
Monday PM - December 23, 2019


JASE GRAVES: Another Christmas Card Letter - Dear Reader, Have you ever received one of those Christmas cards containing an ominously folded piece of typing paper? You know, the one where you reluctantly open it and are suddenly afflicted with an insufferable multi-paragraph essay detailing the past year’s activities of a distant relative or forgettable acquaintance.

Hopefully you’re a glutton for punishment because you are about to read another one – only this time, most of you only know me as that nut who writes about how his three daughters spend all of his cash, his wife laughs at him a lot, and his pets take turns ruining his lawn and carpet.

First, I’m pleased to say that our family is currently feeding, housing, medicating and dodging the droppings of one less semi-domesticated creature – and I don’t mean one of my daughters. 2019 saw the untimely demise of Nibbles – the hamster to end all hamsters, at least for us. Nibbles was one in a series of small rodents who have lived with us over the years – including a family of birdseed-glutted roof rats who once set up housekeeping in the walls of our laundry room (and didn’t even have the common courtesy to do an occasional load of whites).

My youngest daughter did have a hard time grappling with the harsh reality of Nibbles’ death – for about three minutes, , . But she was soon comforted by the nurturing balm of watching other people play video games on YouTube while I reverently laid Nibbles to rest in a toilet paper tube under the trampoline. In case you’re wondering, we still have two dogs, a cat, two hedgehogs, a horse, and a veterinarian who has a framed photo of me on his desk. - More...
Monday PM - December 23, 2019

jpg Political Cartoon: Merry Christmas

Political Cartoon: Merry Christmas
B y Rick McKee©2019, CagleCartoons.com
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Misinformed? By Charlie Freeman - Recently, on the official City website, under the heading of “Mayor and City Council”, was a letter, author unknown, that was apparently intended to set the Our Port group straight.  It began, in the first paragraph, by informing the Our Port people that we are misinformed.  It then went on to outline the RFP, the proposed process for review of the proposals received by a select committee, with a final presentation to the whole Council and public of their choice for a yes or no vote.  

I’m a little confused by the uninformed part.  I’ve read and understand the process even though I don’t agree with it,  I’ve read the RFP, I’m fully aware of the City’s debt load, and I know as much about the Berth 4 lease as anyone.  I wish the letter had informed me on what I missed. Also included in the letter was a paragraph stating that the City received no monetary benefit from Berth 4, that the City had no real control over same and that Cruise Line Agencies scheduled all the dockings at Berth 4 with no City oversight.   I’ll get to the part that’s close to true. 

Cruise Line Agencies, unless things have changed in the last 25 Yrs. or so’, does schedule Berth 4.  They also schedule, or did in my time, Berths 1, 2 and 3.  The Port Director has the ultimate authority to do that but, over the years we’ve more or less jobbed it out - at no cost to the City.  That’s control. Sales taxes, docking fees, jobs. That’s gain.  - More...
Monday PM - December 23, 2019

jpg Opinion

City's “Berth Lease Proposals” By Mike Cruise - Mike Holman and Charlie Freeman have recently written opinion / information letters about the City's “Berth Lease Proposals”. These actions would surrender the community’s four downtown cruise-ship docks to private control for up to 30 years. Mike and Charlie have been around and I value their opinions. On this issue I think they are absolutely right……. This is not a wise decision and the process being used doesn’t pass the “smell” test.

We are always reminded that issues like these are too difficult, complicated and delicate for the Ketchikan Voters to grasp and should not be put up for them to advise or decide on. Somehow, those same voters were wise enough to elect the people who make these disparaging remarks. I guess that this proves or destroys the argument, depending on your point of view.

All that aside, the issue of the Berth Lease Proposals is of such importance that any and all impute should be sought, considered and evaluated….. even by those local leaders who believe that the public is too dumb to have anything of value to say. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 17, 2019

jpg Opinion

“Alaskans for Better Elections” Seeks to Destroy Alaska’s Voting System By Ann Brown - The day before the Independence Day holiday last summer, local progressives quietly filed a petition ironically named "Alaskans for Better Elections," which would destroy the integrity of Alaska's elections. If passed the ballot initiative would bring us ranked-choice voting.* The petition was sponsored, in part, by former District 22 Representative Jason Grenn. You may remember that Mr. Grenn was soundly defeated by now-Representative Sara Rasmussen in 2018.

Are sour grapes on the menu here?

In a ranked-choice general election, voters would "rank” their choice of four candidates for a given office. Candidates garnering more than fifty percent of the vote in the first ranking would win office immediately. If no one person wins a majority, candidates are whittled away, and ranking continues until one individual is declared the winner.

This initiative is backed nearly entirely by outside donations; its major supporter is a Colorado-based organization which gave $500,000 in one pop last month. - More..
Tuesday PM - December 17, 2019

jpg Opinion

Corruption By Dominic Salvato - Sealaska shareholders are the one's to blame for allowing a handful of native leaders to convert our combined assets into personal wealth for Sealaska's management. Compensation for executives have topped 75 million dollars in the last decade.

We allowed Sealaska's management to continue past the original date for the stock to be placed under each shareholder control. Shareholder never voted to continue. Managements decided to continue because the shares were worthless.

For fifty years we have allowed the corporation to isolate us further from control of our stock, by raising the total percentage of voting stock to sell, form 50% plus1, to 75% plus 1. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 17, 2019

jpg Opinion

MUCH WORSE THAN WATERGATE By David G Hanger - The words of Michelle Goldberg really say it all, “This administration is rotten to the core and fundamentally disloyal to the country it purports to serve. So is every politician who still tries to explain its corruption away.” This is much worse than Watergate because what we have here is treason specifically intended to benefit the Russians and Trump’s handler, Vlad Putin.

Many of you are the children and the grandchildren of the folks who were here in the 1950s and the 1960s, and a whole bunch of them were John Birchers, right-wing extremists who obsessively believed in a vast “international Communist conspiracy” that in fact never existed. The Russians, the Chinese, and the Vietnamese, for example, are not friends. Albeit over the top with their obsession to a considerable degree, they were quite correct in identifying Russia as an enemy. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 17, 2019

jpg Opinion

Russia and China Missile Threats By Donald Moskowitz - President Trump is correct in withdrawing from the intermediate range missile treaty with Russia enacted 30 years ago, because Russia broke the treaty with its missile development. 

Another problem with the treaty was it did not prevent non-treaty countries from developing intermediate range missiles; and China has developed and deployed intermediate range missiles. The Chinese missiles can outperform our defensive systems that protect Japan, Taiwan and South Korea.

As a former Navy enlisted and officer (Penn State 1963, NROTC) I am concerned with the Chinese missiles designed to thwart the capabilities of our aircraft carriers, because the anti-ship missiles can be launched beyond the range of our carrier based aircraft.  This places us at a disadvantage countering Chinese threats in the Far East. - More...
Tuesday PM - December 17, 2019

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