A U.S. House subcommittee today considered a bill aimed at creating a deepwater dock at Point Spencer, a narrow curlicue of land on the Bering Strait, just south of the Arctic Circle. Alaska Congressman Don Young says his bill would divide the 2,000 acre spit among the Coast Guard, the state and the Bering Strait Native Corp., creating a partnership to build a port.
“I want to move this legislation. I think it’s badly needed for Alaska and the nation,” Young said. “And of course it will help Bering Straits out. There’s no doubt about that.”
Out along the rock bar, the current is deep and dark. My daughter, China, and I stand on the uneven rocks at the edge of the eddy, pulling our net ashore, unhurried, hoping for a tasty fish for dinner and no more. It's a tiny net compared to the nets I've been using on the coast lately, and the webbing is old, almost neon yellow.
The Yukon River is having strong runs of silver and chum salmon this fall, giving a boost to fishermen after another tepid summer for king salmon.
Sonar counts on the Lower Yukon at Pilot Station had tallied 233,000 silver salmon by Sept. 3, far above the historical median of 126,600 by that date. At that pace, more than 245,000 silvers are expected on the Yukon this summer.
Yukon River king salmon continue to show symptoms indicative of low production. Unprecedented fishing restrictions in Alaska this summer allowed over 64,ooo kings to cross the border into Canada. That was enough to surpass an escapement goal, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
Eligible Cook Inlet fishermen will receive a $2,000 fixed payment, plus a percentage based on their landings history from 2007 to 2011, according to National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS, spokeswoman Julie Speegle.
According to information provided by the National Marine Fisheries Service, an estimated 443 permit holders from Cook Inlet’s East Side setnet fishery will be eligible to apply for payments, as will an additional 96 Northern District fishermen.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced this week the approval of the first grant application to assist fishermen affected by the 2012 commercial fisheries failure in the Yukon Chinook, Kuskokwim Chinook and Cook Inlet fisheries.
For the last week, from Shugnak all the way down to Kotzebue, people are reporting dead fish washed up on the banks of Northwest Alaska's Kobuk River in astonishing numbers. The fish appear to have been healthy and unspawned. Some have mysterious white welts dotting their backs.
Carolyn Ballot, mayor of Ambler, said when she first heard about the fish, she suspected bears were pulling salmon out of the water, which is nothing unusual. But the huge number of fish washing ashore quickly became concerning. She wondered whether warm weather in the region was causing the die-off.
In 2002, with no local buyer, Kantner recalls having to pack and ship fish out himself. The total value of the fishery that year was just $7,572.
This year the commercial fleet is expected to pull in about $3 million. That, according to Nate Kotch, vice president of Maniilaq, is partly biology from a good brood year, but also the payoff from a five year branding campaign at food expos in Asia, Europe, and on the East Coast:
“These fish are being marketed. And the brand that we have, of course, is Arctic Circle Wild Salmon.”
The world’s biggest sockeye salmon run is expected to surge into Bristol Bay any day, where a catch of about 17 million reds is projected. Elsewhere, the annual summer troll fishery in Southeast Alaska kicks off on July first with a target of just over 166,000 chinook salmon.
Lots of crab fisheries are underway each summer — dungeness fishing began on June 15 in Southeast where a harvest of 2.25 million pounds is expected. The region’s golden king crab fishery will close on July 10, with a catch of about 234,000 pounds.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found that Alaska seafood is safe from Fukushima radiation, but a citizen's group plans to conduct a separate study of the water in lower Cook Inlet using a crowdsource funding site.
"The (FDA) results confirm information from federal, state and international agencies that seafood in the North Pacific and Alaska waters poses no radiation related health concerns to those who consume it," said a statement released by state health and environmental officials.
Ramped up testing this summer shows Alaska fish is free of all signs of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear meltdown three years ago. State veterinarian Bob Gerlach -
The results of the testing of the Alaska fish that were just collected look very good. There is no detection of any radiation that would have originated from Fukushima. That was very good news.
Frustration is growing in the Kuskokwim region of western Alaska, as subsistence fishermen challenged managers for more openings on the river that has seen harsh restrictions this season in an effort to conserve king salmon.
Managers heard their concerns at the Kuskokwim River Salmon Working Group meeting in Bethel Tuesday, but reiterated that their efforts were for conservation, as the king salmon run in the region appears on track to be abysmal going into the 2014 season.
Western Alaska fishermen hoping for improved king salmon runs in 2014 will be disappointed again, according to biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
The department is forecasting another dismal year for kings and has scheduled meetings in Unalakleet, Shaktoolik and Koyuk to discuss a strategy for letting them reach breeding waters, KNOM-radio reported.
is norton sound red king crab in decline? That question, as well as questions about crab stocks in fisheries across Alaska, were the focus of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s meeting in Nome Monday, the first in a slate of meetings scheduled through next week.
The National Marine Fisheries Service has selected 11 groups to help determine how it will spend $20.8 million in federal funds for the king salmon disaster declarations made in 2012.
Congress appropriated the funds earlier this year in response to the disaster declaration made for poor king runs on the Yukon River in 2010, 2011 and 2012, the Kuskokwim River in 2011 and 2012 and for Cook Inlet’s 2012 salmon fisheries.
Major fishing ports and harbors critical to Alaska's economy are in the midst of designing, construction and fund sourcing in the spring of 2014, to meet needs ranging from float replacements to strengthening breakwaters.
With steady fishing vessel traffic from the Kenai Peninsula to Homer, Seward, Dutch Harbor, Sitka and Wrangell, planning, bidding and finding construction funds is an ongoing process, harbormasters said.
An increased number of commercial fishermen on Alaska’s Lower Yukon River are expected to be using dipnets this summer to harvest chum salmon, in a continuous effort to avoid king salmon, for whom there will be no commercial fishery.
The 2014 salmon forecast for Alaska's waters is well below last year, across the board.
But for those who fish and monitor Kotzebue Sound chum salmon, the projection is not really cause for concern.
According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the state's total salmon catch for 2014 is projected to be down by almost half of last year's record total. State fishery officials are calling for an all-species harvest of just less than 133 million salmon, a 47 percent decline from last year's 283 million.
Resources for All Alaskans, a group formed to combat a proposed initiative to ban commercial setnet fishing in certain parts of the state, met in Kenai to talk strategy with several local fishing groups after being dealt a blow when an Alaska Superior Court judge ruled that it could not intervene in a lawsuit over the initiative.