Elizabeth Earl

Judge orders council to get to work on Cook Inlet salmon plan

KENAI — The United Cook Inlet Drift Association’s lawsuit against the federal government has finally reached its conclusion, though its repercussions are far from over.

Stakeholders voice preferred changes to federal fisheries act

SOLDOTNA — Sportfishing groups and advocates want to see the federal government separate the management of sport and commercial fishing in the upcoming renewal of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

The act, originally passed in 1976 and co-sponsored by the late Alaska U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, establishes the management system for federal and state fisheries in marine waters.

North Pacific council director takes top federal fish job

Chris Oliver, the former executive director of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, has moved up the ladder to lead the agency overseeing the all the federally managed fisheries in the U.S.

Oliver, who has lived in Alaska since 1990 and been the executive director of the council since 2001, officially took the post of assistant administrator at the National Marine Fisheries Service effective June 19.

Copper River outlook improves

Things are looking better than expected for Copper River kings.

Sportfishermen, personal-use dipnetters, subsistence fishermen and commercial fishermen are all out now on the Copper River drainage.

When the season began May 18, the forecast estimated that only about 29,000 kings would return to the river system, leaving about 5,000 for total harvestable surplus.

UFA president’s home pack ticket caught up in Copper River controversy

Four commercial fishermen, including the president of the United Fishermen of Alaska, have been cited for failing to record retention of commercially caught salmon for personal use on an Alaska Department of Fish and Game fish ticket.

On May 18, the opening day of the Copper River salmon season, Alaska State Troopers cited Peter Breckert, 58, John Thomas, 75, Michael Glasen, 69, and Jerry McCune, 68, all of Cordova.

After season closure, board revises Tanner crab strategy

Bering Sea Tanner crab fishermen have a new harvest strategy in place, though it likely won’t be the last time the plan gets revised.

The Board of Fisheries held a special meeting in Anchorage May 17 and 18 to deal with just the harvest strategy.

Copper River managers proceed cautiously after large king harvests

Commercial fishing managers in Prince William Sound are planning to continue opening the fishery, despite concerns about low king salmon returns to the Copper River system.

In the first two commercial fishing periods of the season on May 18 and May 22, salmon fishermen brought in about 3,600 king salmon, according to Alaska Department of Fish and Game in-season harvest summaries.

The first wild-caught king salmon of the season, the fish garnered a record-breaking $50 per pound in the Lower 48, where they arrived late last week.

Board denies emergency petition on Copper River kings

The Board of Fisheries denied a request on May 17 from the Fairbanks Fish and Game Advisory Committee to set more restrictions on the Copper River commercial fishery to protect king salmon.

The Fairbanks AC petitioned the board to further regulate the commercial fishery in the area after the Alaska Department of Fish and Game forecast a small number of kings to return to the stream system — about 29,000, with the minimum escapement for the drainage set at 24,000 fish.

How big can the Alaska health care bubble grow?

KENAI — Alaska faces a paradox with its health care industry.

In an economy sliding downhill, health care is the only sector still growing. With many jobs that pay solid wages and a growing need for medical services, in some ways it is encouraging even as other high-paying jobs in the state are lost.

NOAA releases annual fisheries economic report

KENAI — The total value of commercial fisheries landings in Alaska didn’t change much between 2014 and 2015, but by species, salmon prices have been the millstone around the industry’s neck.

Senate budget cuts holes in public health service

The state’s public health division has been whittled down significantly over the past several years and is facing more cuts this year.

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services has been high on the chopping block for a Legislature looking for places to cut expenses in the fiscal year 2018 budget. The Senate passed a budget on April 18 cutting another $29.2 million out of the department’s budget, on top of a $1.5 million reduction in the final fiscal year 2017 budget passed last year.

2017 sockeye forecast weak for Cook Inlet

KENAI — Upper Cook Inlet’s commercial salmon fishermen are predicted to have another slow season, if the forecast proves accurate.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s 2017 commercial salmon fishery outlook predicts a total run of about 4 million fish to all the stream systems in Upper Cook Inlet, which includes the Kenai, Kasilof and Susitna rivers as well as a number of smaller streams.

Commercial fishermen are projected to harvest about 1.7 million of that, the lowest projected harvest in the last 15 years.

Researchers identify widespread parasite in Alaska scallops

A lot of Alaska’s scallops are sick, and scientists are trying to figure out why.

Alaska’s scallop fishery is a small one; in recent years it has included four boats, with just one operating in Kamishak Bay in Lower Cook Inlet.

The rest operate out of Kodiak on grounds stretching from Yakutat to the Bering Sea.

Despite Trump overturning refuge hunting rules, conflict remains

Although Congress put an end to a set of federal restrictions on wildlife management on national wildlife refuges in Alaska, the underlying conflict is far from over.

North Pacific council takes first step in creating salmon plan

A lot of new faces are coming to the table at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, and not a lot of them are happy about it.

Fishermen who had never previously been involved with the council now have to show up to have a hand in how their fisheries will be incorporated into a federal fishery management plan, or FMP.

The council, which regulates federal fisheries off the coast of Alaska, on April 6 started in on the topic of the salmon plan for Cook Inlet, part of the Alaska Peninsula and part of Prince William Sound near Cordova.

State launches review of Premera’s finances

After the state’s sole individual market health care insurance provider posted a higher than expected profit this year, the Alaska Division of Insurance launched an investigation into the company’s financials.

Federal council forced back into Cook Inlet salmon fray

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will open up a process next week that will likely take years to redesign the Cook Inlet salmon fishery management plan.

A federal appeals court decided last fall that the council, which oversees all federal fisheries management in the North Pacific between 3 and 200 nautical miles offshore — known as the United States Exclusive Economic Zone — has to craft a management plan for the salmon fishery.

Graphite mining company considering plant on peninsula

Kenai, Homer and Seward are up for consideration as sites for a new graphite processing plant.

A Vancouver-based company is working on plans to develop Alaska’s sole graphite find, located on the Seward Peninsula about 37 miles north of Nome. Part of the development plan includes a value-added manufacturing facility to process the raw graphite from the mine into coated spherical graphite for lithium-ion electric vehicles batteries and other products.

Ocean conditions throw uncertainty into salmon forecast

KENAI — After last year’s disastrously low pink salmon runs to drainages all across the Gulf of Alaska, the forecasts offer a little more hope for the 2017 season.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game managers in Southeast are predicting a strong pink year, with 43 million fish set to return, slightly greater than the recent 10-year average of 39 million fish.

UAF says ‘thanks, but no thanks’ to Kenai salmon research offer

KENAI — The University of Alaska Fairbanks turned down an offer for funding for research on Kenai River king salmon because it would only come from one side of Cook Inlet’s allocation war.

The university’s College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, consistently recognized as one of the top fisheries research institutes in the country, regularly conducts studies on fish populations around the state. Funding comes from a variety of sources, both industry and from the university’s budget.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Elizabeth Earl