Today, the President is taking another step to protect our most valuable natural resources. Relying on an authority used by presidents of both parties since Eisenhower, President Obama is designating 9.8 million acres in the waters of the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas off Alaska’s coast as off-limits to consideration for future oil and gas leasing. This action builds on recent steps by the President to protect Bristol Bay and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

So, you think setnetters have it easy?

The gradual warming of the Arctic Ocean over the next century will weaken a natural barrier that has separated fish from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans for millions of years, leading to a mixing of species that could make life difficult in fishing communities from Alaska to Norway.

On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that the Aleutians won’t advance in the process to become a national marine sanctuary — mostly due to a lack of local support.

This week will reveal if Pacific halibut catches ratchet up slightly in some regions, as indicated earlier, or at least not be chopped. The International Pacific Halibut Commission is meeting in Vancouver through Friday – that’s when the harvests and season start and end dates will be announced. You can follow the halibut meetings live on the web.

Wednesday night's State of the State address by Governor Bill Walker was as much a pep talk as any thing else to a state facing huge budget deficits. In it, he touted Alaskan's can-do spirit and the many assets we have to work with. One of those is our fisheries.

Alaska Board of Fisheries Chairman Karl Johnstone resigned Tuesday after Gov. Bill Walker said he would not submit his name to the legislature for reappointment.

Rather than wait for his term to expire in June, Johnstone resigned immediately.

Four people were rescued from the F/V Eyak early Monday morning (1-19-15) after the boat went aground near Calligan Island, just north of the Goddard hot springs.

In the latest show of support for the Jones Act, 32 bipartisan Representatives have sent a letter to Senate leadership urging them to reject a “misguided” amendment piggybacked onto a Keystone XL Pipeline bill by Senator John McCain that would repeal the U.S. build requirement of the Merchant Marine Act of 1920.

The Bering Sea’s largest fishery opened up on Tuesday afternoon. Pollock crews are gearing up for a potential increase in their harvest -- while still keeping an open mind about what the winter has in store.

Dillingham will try again on the fish tax. The City Council voted last week to send an annexation petition forward to the Alaska Local Boundary Commission to annex the Nushagak River Commercial Fishing District. The annexation was adopted by a local vote in 2012 but overturned by a court ruling.

A big snow crab harvest kept Bering Sea fishermen hard at work through the holidays. Now, it’s overshadowing the start of a major groundfish season, too.

The Pacific cod fishery kicked off in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands this month. There’s about 250,000 metric tons of Pacific cod up for harvest in state and federal waters.

Federal biologist Krista Milani says normally, pot-gear vessels over 60 feet finish cod before the end of January. But many started this year focused on snow crab -- meaning cod season will probably run long.

Few fish have to swim through more red tape than the Pacific halibut.

Halibut has been governed by two regulatory bodies for more than 40 years, and 2015 will hopefully see an increase in mutual understanding between the two, as well as a welcome public display of cooperation.

Gov. Bill Walker’s plans for Alaska involve a lot of budget cutting, and a vital research project for king salmon is on the slab.

As petroleum prices dive and Alaska finances look grim, the Chinook Salmon Research Initiative is one of many items Walker cut from former Gov. Sean Parnell’s proposed capital budget, potentially halting several ongoing programs and complicating an Alaska fishery regulatory item.

Few fish have to swim through more red tape than the Pacific halibut.

Halibut has been governed by two regulatory bodies for more than 40 years, and 2015 will hopefully see an increase in mutual understanding between the two, as well as a welcome public display of cooperation.

Incidental catch of halibut in directed groundfish fisheries is likely to be the hot topic Jan. 26-30 when the International Pacific Halibut Commission holds its 91st annual meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia.

A 55-year-old Ketchikan resident with an extensive, serious criminal history received a four-year prison sentence on Wednesday for assaulting a Coast Guard officer who was responding to a disturbance on a private boat in September 2013.

NMFS issues a proposed rule to implement cost recovery fee programs for the Western Alaska Community Development Quota (CDQ) Program for groundfish and halibut, and three limited access privilege programs: The American Fisheries Act (AFA), Aleutian Islands Pollock, and Amendment 80 Programs.

The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010 called for fishing boats to meet survey and classification requirements if they are 50 feet and over, operate outside of three miles and are built after July 1, 2013. The regulation has been called a huge cultural change.

Critics said the fishing industry had virtually "no input" in the law, and making matters worse has been the lack of guidelines describing a classed boat from any of the possible classification societies: American Bureau of Shipping, DNV GL (previously Det Norske Veritas), Lloyd's Register, Bureau Veritas or Germanischer Lloyd.

The St. Nicholas was taking on water about 60 miles southeast of Kodiak when the Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk arrived just before 9 a.m., the agency said in a news release. The crew had asked for help when their pumps were unable to keep up with the flooding in 25 mph winds.

After a motion failed at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council by a single vote with an Alaska delegate absent, another effort is underway to reduce halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea in the face of rapidly sinking catch limits for the directed fisheries.

Dillingham, Alaska – When it comes to America’s natural resources, there is no greater success story than that of Bristol Bay, Alaska, home to the world’s largest, most sustainable sockeye salmon fishery. Despite being one of the last, best places remaining for wild salmon on the planet, few people know about this national treasure.

$17,500 for set netters, $35,000 for drifters, available through BBEDC vessel upgrade program for CDQ residents.

In 2005, Royal Dutch Shell, then the fourth-largest company on Earth, bought a drill rig that was both tall, rising almost 250 feet above the waterline, and unusually round. The hull of the Kulluk, as the rig was called, was made of 1.5-inch-thick steel and rounded to better prevent its being crushed. A 12-point anchor system could keep it locked in place above an oil well for a full day in 18-foot seas or in moving sea ice that was four feet thick.

For those of us who live by the sea, a drop in the price of oil is a joy indeed. I doubt if our Saudi allies and the rest of OPEC are going to not take action as oil reaches $50 a barrel, but for those of us who remember the price a decade ago when I could fill the old Stormbird's tanks for $800 -- last year, filling the same tanks cost $5,200, and last month it came down to $4,881.

The iconic Alaska king salmon are returning in lesser number, younger and consequently smaller, and with a skewed gender ratio across most of our state.

How should we react? What does it say about how we react to an issue where passions and emotions run high? The recent op-ed from Joe Connors is very disappointing and everyone in our community needs to know why and to know we can and should do better than this.

It's that time of year again. Top 10 lists for everything. Trust me. For some of them, I can't figure out how they came up with a top one, much less 10. I was going to piggyback on this cliche and give you my top 10 Alaska stories for 2014, but then I got a grip on myself.

You're welcome. I decided instead to look ahead at what will be a giant war in Alaska in the upcoming year. I figured maybe we needed to start rallying the troops to battle.