With repaired Columbia a month overdue, ferry manager changes July schedule

JUNEAU -- Tension is mounting between the state and a Ketchikan shipyard hired to fix the ferry Columbia, damaged in a fire last year.Frustrated by what he called a series of missed deadlines by Alaska Ship and Drydock, the marine highway system’s George Capacci revamped the July ferry schedule anticipating the ship will not be delivered July 2 as promised by the company. Delivery already is a month behind schedule."There’re milestones they’ve missed," said Capacci, general manager. "I think it’s only prudent to think there might be more."However, a company spokesman insisted the shipyard would deliver the ferry by the July deadline and blamed the state for the delays."One hundred percent of our efforts are going to complete the ship at the earliest possible date," said Doug Ward, director of shipyard development.The shipyard was supposed to deliver the ferry May 26, but in May it asked for an extension to July 2, saying the state requested more work than was specified in the $10 million contract, which includes renovations unrelated to the fire.Capacci agreed the state expanded the scope of the project, but said the extra work should not have taken the shipyard so long to complete.A key issue is the ferry’s switchboard, which was destroyed in the blaze. The switchboard is the central nervous system of the ship -- the "brain" that controls the electrical system, said Capacci, noting that without it nothing else works. He wanted to put cleaning crews on the ferry while the renovation was in progress, to make the ship ready for passengers sooner, but without electricity, he can’t do it."We had verbal assurances the electrical power would be back on board and the crew would move back on board the 18th of June. That didn’t happen. Before that it was the first of June," Capacci said. "We’ve been telling them for 30 weeks that you’re late and they’ve been in denial or they’ve not seen it."However, Ward accounted for the delay by saying the state Department of Transportation requested more extensive testing of the switchboard than specified in the contract.In response to the missed deadlines to restore power, Capacci assumed the shipyard would not deliver the vessel July 2 and changed the July ferry schedule. If the shipyard does deliver it by July 2, the state would revert to the previous July schedule, he said.Meanwhile, Capacci is worried the delay has hurt the ferry system’s reputation in Alaska and the Lower 48. The Malaspina was diverted to the Bellingham-Skagway route to accommodate passengers with reservations on the Columbia. However, the smaller Malaspina cannot handle them all, and the state has turned travelers away."Those people we turn away are very upset. The general public’s impression is the whole marine highway system is goofed up, and that’s not the case at all," said Capacci, noting some ferry reservation agents were so weary of dealing with angry customers that they quit.The state could charge the shipyard $86,740 for each day beyond the contract’s May 26 deadline, he said. However, the money would go to the federal government, which funded the renovation, not to the state.

Norton taps Pearce for D.C. job, Toohey as special aide in Alaska

During her second visit in three months to Alaska, Interior Secretary Gale Norton came, saw and tapped some of the state’s finest oil public policy talent.Norton, who visited Alaska June 16-20, announced the appointments of former state Sen. Drue Pearce, R-Alaska, and Arctic Power director Cam Toohey as her senior adviser on Alaska and her special assistant in Alaska, respectively.Pearce, who introduced Norton at a breakfast meeting of Commonwealth North in Anchorage June 20, will move to Washington, D.C., to advise the secretary on Alaska-related matters and participate in the Bush administration’s campaign to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to development.Toohey will assist Norton in Alaska with the management of more than 270 million acres of federal lands that fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior.In response to criticism of Toohey’s appointment from Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., Norton said she didn’t know what the congressman would have had her do. "Pick someone from Massachusetts to assist her on Alaska?" she quipped.Pearce described Norton as being a prepared and caring listener with a deep sense of responsibility. "She keeps her promises," Pearce concluded in her introduction.Norton visited the Alaska Native communities of Arctic Village and Kaktovik, the ANWR coastal plain and the North Slope oil fields. She also took a float trip down the Noatak River through the Gates of the Arctic National Preserve.After a 4 1/2-hour visit with residents of Arctic Village, Norton said she was impressed with the Gwich’in Indians, their desire to retain their subsistence lifestyle indefinitely and their concerns for their children’s education and future.But she observed that the Gwich’ins’ choice to oppose oil development in ANWR has a direct impact on others, including the education and opportunities of the children of Kaktovik residents and the children of all Americans."If we can maintain the caribou herds, protect the environment and tap the resources below the surface of the 1002 area, then maybe we can help the parents of all these children fulfill their dreams," Norton said. The 1002 area, about 1.1 million acres on the coastal plain within ANWR, was set aside by Congress for further study due to its high potential for oil.Norton described her visit to the North Slope oil fields as impressive."I did see some caribou of the Central Arctic herd, though I have to say I didn’t see any caribou in the 1002 area nor any standing next to the pipeline," she said. "I’m told the caribou of the Porcupine herd calved in Canada this year, and our long-term studies show that the 1002 area is not a key calving ground for the caribou."While some in Congress have said the ANWR issue is dead, Norton said she does not believe that is the case because the fight is ongoing in Congress and the Bush administration is picking up increasing support from labor unions."A vote came up in the Congress last week on stopping all spending on issues related to oil development in the 1002 area of ANWR and that vote was blocked," she said.Whether it’s investments in technology or opening new areas to development, Norton predicted that Congress will take some action this year on the Bush energy plan."But I’m not sure what that will be," she said. "Whatever happens in the future, Alaska will be a key part of America’s energy future."In response to questions following her remarks, Norton said the Bush administration is considering revising a number of mining regulations, including one related to bonding, based on National Academy of Science recommendations and concerns about rule changes enacted by the Clinton administration.

Korean chefs visit

Hotel Captain Cook Executive Chef Luke Gilligan, center, displays a creation of Alaska salmon, halibut and scallops June 14 to Greg Wolf, left, director of the state’s Division of International Trade and Market Development, and Hee Yeol Kwon, Chef de Cuisine at the Grand Hyatt Seoul. The division sponsored a visit to Alaska by six top Korean chefs, hoping to encourage them to serve Alaska seafood in their restaurants.

PenAir wins bid to offer Adak flights

Peninsula Airways has been chosen over four competitors to provide regular air service from Anchorage to Adak -- at least for now. Meanwhile, state officials are questioning if the federally subsidized route is money well spent.PenAir was to begin direct passenger service June 26 from Anchorage to Adak, with four flights a week running Tuesdays through Fridays. Cost of a round-trip ticket: $1,100.The service was made possible through a temporary contract awarded to PenAir June 20 by the U.S. Department of Transportation under its Essential Air Service program.The Anchorage-based airline will be paid in weekly increments based on a $564,043 annual rate. Four other air carriers have submitted proposals for subsidies ranging from $1.3 million to $2.1 million annually for flying cargo and passengers to the 300-resident Aleutian island community, struggling economically after its 1997 Navy base closure.Some 33 communities in Alaska and 86 in the rest of the country receive a subsidy from the federal government under the Essential Air Service Program, established in 1978 to ensure small communities retain a link to the national air transportation system, according to Bill Mosely, a DOT spokesman in Washington, D.C.The program’s annual budget is $50 million, according to Mosely.If subsidized under current proposals, the Anchorage-to-Adak service would be the most costly in the nation.That, according to state officials, may not be a wise use of tax dollars."There are other communities in Alaska that would like to have subsidized service to large communities like Anchorage or Fairbanks, but these people are routed to the closest hub airport so they can connect to a flight elsewhere,’’ wrote Paul Bowers, director of statewide aviation for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, to the federal transportation department. " ... we think the (federal government) needs to carefully consider whether the current course is proper and fair to the rest of Alaska.’’Carl Siebe, the state airports engineer, said more than 150 communities in Alaska qualify for subsidized funding for air service, but receive none."Congress has a finite amount of money for the EAS,’’ Siebe said. "Our concern is that a huge subsidy for one group detracts the rest of the subsidized communities.’’"We would be remiss if we didn’t raise the issue,’’ Siebe said.Adak Mayor Agafon Krukoff said the state’s comments could be "damaging’’ to the largely Aleut community."It’s terrible,’’ Krukoff said. "I think they are shooting Alaska in the foot. I would think they (state officials) would want to take this opportunity to improve subsidized funding for us and other communities to help us economically. There’s not enough funding as it is throughout the state.’’Further, he said, the federal government charters up to 10 executive jets weekly for crews doing cleanup work at the abandoned Navy base and will do so for the next several years. The mayor guessed that subsidized funding -- even at the highest rate -- would save taxpayers money in the long run, over the charters.PenAir, along with Evergreen International Inc., Northern Air Cargo Inc., Security Aviation and Eagle Canyon Airlines Inc., have submitted proposals to the federal government for the Adak subsidy.DOT’s Mosely said he didn’t know when a permanent contract would be awarded, but the agency is considering each airline’s individual proposals, as well as a combination of air carriers to meet the needs of Adak.Last December, Reeve Aleutian Airways stopped flying to Adak, leaving the community without air service. Reeve had operated two Boeing 727-100 jets that served Adak and other Aleutian destinations, as well as the Russian Far East.Mosely said Reeve operated its flights with no government subsidy.A week after Reeve pulled out, PenAir began operating flights from Dutch Harbor to Cold Bay to pick up passengers bound for Adak. PenAir received a $5,600 weekly government subsidy for "emergency replacement service’’ to Adak for six nonstop round trips a week to Dutch Harbor, using an eight-seat Cessna Conquest.Those flights, however, proved largely unsuccessful, due to the region’s weather, known as some of the worst and most unpredictable in the world. Passengers often had to wait several days in Dutch Harbor to catch a connecting flight to Anchorage."It was lousy service, I’ll be the first to admit,’’ said PenAir President Orin Seybert. "But nobody else sure tried to step up to the plate to help out.’’Now the airline will use two Fairchild Metroliners, twin engine 19-passenger turbo-props, reconfigured to 14 seats, allowing for about 1,000 pounds of cargo and a lavatory. The service will make a stop in Cold Bay for refueling.While the new service is welcomed by Adak residents, the community still wants the level of jet service it once had for the 1,300-mile one-way flight to Anchorage."It’s good to get back into Anchorage faster by jet, but we’re not crying about that,’’ Krukoff said. "We’re crying about our economic growth getting hampered. It’s at a standstill right now without jet service."Before Reeve pulled out of Adak, Krukoff said the newly designated second-class city was rebounding economically with, among other things, its fledgling commercial fishing industry."The fishing business has been scared away with the loss of jet service,’’ Krukoff said. "It’s now going back to Dutch Harbor.’’Krukoff said subsidized air service is essential to the existence of Adak."We need some sort of benefit to be a benefit for the country.’’

Providence wins OK for new scanner

Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage has received approval from the state Department of Health and Social Services to purchase the first Positron Emission Tomography scanner in Alaska.Commissioner Karen Perdue approved the certificate of need June 1, authorizing hospital officials to purchase the new equipment and remodel a 1,200-square-foot space for the PET scanner.The project is expected to cost about $3 million and could be completed by first quarter 2002.PET scanners measure metabolic function, which allows detection of disease that would not be visualized with other imaging techniques, Providence officials said.The PET technology is not available in Alaska, said Colleen Bridge, assistant administrator for oncology and ancillary services at Providence.

Census statistics tell a cautionary tale for today's advertisers

As the weeks go by, the Census Bureau continues the time release of tantalizing tidbits about its 2000 count. The macro statistics are worth noting: * The U.S. population now stands at 281.4 million. * The top 10 metro markets or CMSA’s (Consolidated Metropolitan Statistical Areas) are, in descending order, New York (21.2 million), Los Angeles (16.4 million), Chicago (9.2 million), Washington, D.C./Baltimore (7.6 million), San Francisco (7 million), Philadelphia (6.2 million), Boston (5.8 million), Detroit (5.5 million), Dallas/Fort Worth (5.2 million) and Houston (4.7 million). * The fastest growing markets in the past decade are West Palm Beach (+7.79 percent), Raleigh-Durham/Chapel Hill (+7.45 percent), Denver (+6.77 percent), Atlanta (+6.61 percent), Dallas/Fort Worth (+6.36 percent) and Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point (+6.12 percent). As expected, the dominant consumer class of the last 20 years, the baby boomers, will carry their impact with them to retirement and the grave. Eighty-three million strong and all due to retire within the next 30 years, boomers will drain the Social Security and Medicare systems, put onerous strain on the suffering, highly inefficient health care system and continue to drive demand in many major consumer buying categories from travel to pharmaceuticals. Who will foot the bill? Increasingly not the younger demographic. While the nation’s median age rose during the last decade from 32.9 to 35.3, the important Generation X population (20-34) experienced shrinkage. Attacking cherished beliefs To many a mainstream American, the nation dwells in a fantasy land comprised primarily of white Anglo-Saxon Caucasians, predominantly Protestant, living in a traditional, nuclear family, with married, heterosexual parents and an average of 2.6 well-raised children with names like Biff and Scooter. As recently noted in the Atlanta Journal/Constitution, the census data change between 1990 and 2000 shows that nothing could be further from the truth. For example: * The number of married households has dropped from 55.1 percent in 1990 to 51.7 percent in 2000. Blame increasing divorce rates and marriage delays driven by career choice as the main reasons for the drop. * Households headed by females increased three times as fast as the traditional married couple unit. * Female-headed households with children grew four times as fast as married households with children under 18. * The number of people living alone increased almost 21 percent to more than 27 million. * The number of unmarried partners increased a staggering 72 percent. What this means is that marketers must come to terms with the fact that the complexion of the U.S. consumer marketplace is made up of an increasingly fractionated mosaic where the traditional 1950s-like needs, values and behavior are no longer relevant or applicable. A nation of many hues As demographers have noted, many major cities and regions of the United States will ultimately possess majority populations comprised, in the aggregate, of nonwhite, non-Caucasian backgrounds. Again the census data proves revealing: * Hispanics totaled 35.3 million in 2000, 9 percent more than the bureau had earlier estimated. In fact, the greater than expected increase in the Hispanic population was one of the major surprises of the 2000 census, according to the bureau. Incidentally, half of all Hispanics live in California and Texas, with about 77 percent residing in those two states plus Florida, Illinois, Arizona and New Jersey. * The African-American population was reported at 34.7 million (a 3.1 percent increase). * Asian-American numbers grew an astounding 48 percent growth from 6.9 million in 1990 to 10.2 million in 2000. While Chinese form the largest Asian block at 2.4 million, the fastest growing Asian subset comprises people from the Indian continent. For marketers, what this means is that ethnicity is no longer a triviality to be addressed as an adjunct activity in the marketing mix when time and excess marketing funds permit. If there is one thing we are learning from the recent census it is that the commonly held perceptions of the consumer landscape no longer apply. America is rapidly becoming a hybrid nation of ethnic and religious diversity -- not to mention dual-working parents, single moms, same-sex partnerships and other demographic shifts. For the marketer, it will be wise to remember that the exception is fast becoming the norm. Alf Nucifora is an Atlanta-based marketing consultant.

Shippers say port needs $140 million expansion

Whether it’s a Barbie Doll, a bag of chips or a Buick, chances are it came across the dock at the Port of Anchorage. Trouble is, according to Bill Sheffield, not many folks realize the importance of the city-owned dock or its need for expansion. Alaska’s former governor and new port director is out to publicize and seek funding for a proposed $140 million port expansion and renovation project. "We need to get the port ready for the new century,’’ Sheffield said. On June 19, Sheffield hosted a tour of the port with members of the Anchorage Assembly, port commission and industry leaders. Things got off to a slow start, as the bus driver had trouble finding the port, a mile north of downtown. "Obviously," Sheffield said, "we have some work to do.’’ The 35 or so attending the tour were treated to tug rides around the harbor and lunch aboard cargo ships. For many, including some Assembly members, it was the first up-close look at port operations. The Port of Anchorage’s unofficial title is "Alaska’s Regional Port.’’ Sheffield said it would be better dubbed the "State Port," since it serves more than 80 percent of Alaska, with an annual economic impact of $725 million. But as Anchorage and the state grow, so does the need for port improvements, Sheffield said. Since 1961, the port has grown from a single pier handling 38,000 tons a year to a five-terminal dock that in peak years has handled more than 3 million tons of cargo, petroleum and cement annually. "This dock controls what happens in the state,’’ Sheffield said. "Right now, we don’t have any flexibility.’’ Proposed plans call for a new deep-draft, multipurpose dock extension that would accommodate ships up to 1,000 feet long. Other work includes deepening the harbor from 35 feet at low tide to 45 feet; installing larger container cranes; renovating and widening the current dock; and developing about 40 acres of land to support the new dock. Once completed, the new intermodal marine facility would handle cargo much more efficiently and enable large vessels to moor here, Sheffield said, adding that a larger dock could accommodate a homeported military ship and attract cruise ships. "There are 46 cruise ships being built right now,’’ Sheffield said. "They can’t all go to Glacier Bay.’’ About 2,500 cargo containers arrive in Anchorage weekly, the majority of which are handled by shippers CSX and Totem Ocean Trailer Express. Dock expansion and larger cranes will allow for larger containers to be moved more efficiently and safely, shippers say. Upgrading and expanding the Port of Anchorage is "absolutely critical,’’ said Frank Peake, vice president and general manager of CSX Lines’ Alaska division. "It will provide for a more efficient operation,’’ Peake said of the dock expansion. "The current infrastructure is not sufficient to meet long-term needs.’’ Peake said major retailers like Wal-Mart want to send larger items, but are currently restricted by container size. TOTE has two new cargo ships coming on line over the next 18 months, both of which are designed specifically for Alaska and the existing port facility, said Bill Deaver, vice president and general manager of TOTE’s Alaska division. The company is spending about $310 million for the new ships, designed for larger 53 foot roll-on, roll-off containers, instead of older 40 to 50-foot trailers. TOTE is adding a new trestle at the port to accommodate the larger containers. Deaver said the new ships and trestle modification will meet the company’s needs for the next 25 years. And while the proposed port project won’t benefit his company directly, it is much needed and will attract new business such as cruise ships, he said. "The dock project will allow tremendous flexibility,’’ Deaver said. "It will benefit the port and facilities offered to people.’’ The Legislature last session approved the first $6 million toward the project, which leaves more than $134 million needed for completion. Sheffield said he’s confident construction will start next year and be finished by 2007. "I’m counting on additional state matching funds, profits from the port, and the federal government," Sheffield said. Sheffield served as Alaska governor from 1982 to 1986 and was president of the Alaska Railroad from 1997 until January, when he resigned. Anchorage Mayor George Wuerch appointed Sheffield to the post about two months ago. He officially took over as the port director June 19. Sheffield says he knows how politics work and has the clout to get his phone calls answered from Alaska’s congressional delegation. Sheffield said he has been in contact with Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young, who have been "very helpful and friendly’’ toward the port project "From my former life, I have access,’’ Sheffield said. "One of the reasons I’m here is to get help from the federal government -- which I will do.’’ CSX’s Peake said Sheffield is the perfect person for the port director job. "He’s an excellent fit -- very energetic and very visionary. I can’t imagine a better person in that role,’’ he said. Deaver of TOTE said he too believes Sheffield is the right man for the job. "He’s creating a vision for the port," said Deaver. "He will be a tremendous asset to develop funds for port development." "I’m the kind of guy who wants to get things done, and can’t wait for tomorrow,’’ Sheffield said, adding that he doesn’t expect to hold his new position indefinitely. "I want to get the money flowing, the plans going and the proper people directing the project so that we can see the green light at the end of the tunnel ... then turn it over to the next guy.’’  

Business Profile: CareNet Inc.

Name of the company: CareNet Inc.Established: 1996Location: 4450 Cordova St., Suite 110, AnchorageTelephone: 907-274-5620Major focus of services: CareNet Inc. provides in-home care primarily for older Alaskans. The company’s staff of nurses, nurse aides and homemakers help with personal care and bathing, household chores and errands.History of the company: After serving five years as director of maternity at Providence Alaska Medical Center, registered nurse Linda Hastain founded CareNet in January 1996 as a home-based business. Training from the Small Business Development Center helped prepare her for the venture. Her research had revealed a need in the community for her nursing-based homemaker aide service.Hastain’s first client required round-the-clock care, and she recruited four others to help staff shifts. By fall of 1996 Hastain had hired an office staff person to help interview potential staff and coordinate scheduling.In March 2000 CareNet moved to its current location. Currently, the company employs up to 25 people with almost half of those working full time. Many staffers include retired nurses or nurses aides. CareNet handles shorter-term clients including helping workers injured on the job as well as long-term clients.Hastain says CareNet’s services allows some older Alaskans to continue living at home rather than move to a care facility.The health care professional also noted that in the past two to three years more Alaskans have relocated their aging parents to the state. This trend is coupled with an increasing population of older people in Anchorage.Top accomplishment of the company: Hastain believes one leading service CareNet provides is dispensing information to families caring for aging adults or home health employees looking to serve others. She also stresses that the company aims to carefully match an employee’s personality, skills and other considerations with the client. "A lot of thought goes into who we are going to send out," Hastain said.Major player: Linda Hastain, president, CareNet Inc.Hastain worked as a home health nurse in rural Missouri in the 1970s and discovered her love for helping older adults. Following full-time motherhood, she held hospital posts and moved to Alaska in 1989 when her husband was transferred to the state. She served as director of maternity for Providence for five years.-- Nancy Pounds

Around the World July 1, 2001

STATEPaper recycling pickups to resume in JuneauJUNEAU -- Juneau offices that have been stockpiling paper for recycling will see relief soon.Gastineau Human Services plans to restart pickup services for recycled white paper, computer paper and newsprint, according to Executive Director Greg Pease. The nonprofit group discontinued pickup at the end of April, citing a lack of community service workers to sort and retrieve paper. However, a new day-reporting center in GHS’ Lemon Creek complex should help stabilize the stream of workers, Pease said.GHS recycling coordinator Andre Votion said he plans to contact about 130 offices and businesses that used to receive pick-up services to set up new routes and schedules. Drop-off containers also will reopen.Tunnel toll takes toll on Whittier businessWHITTIER -- Brenda Tolman, owner of Log Cabin Gifts, knows business has been down since the state started charging a toll to drive through the tunnel to Whittier.After the 2.5-mile Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel opened Whittier to road traffic last June, the former military base turned tourist destination on Prince William Sound saw a jump in summer visitors.The tunnel was free that first season, a sort of introductory offer. But in April the state began charging a toll: $15 for cars, $40 for motor homes and trailers, and $125 for buses and big rigs.Residents agree that traffic has dropped off this summer and that the toll is to blame.State may charge World Plus schemerANCHORAGE -- The Alaska Court of Appeals has decided a Fairbanks woman convicted in federal court of running a scheme that bilked investors out of millions of dollars can be tried on state charges.RaeJean Bonham pleaded guilty to federal charges of mail fraud and money laundering in 1998 in connection with her World Plus investment scheme.The state also sought to try Bonham on charges of perjury and filing misleading securities statements with state regulators. But a state Superior Court judge dismissed the charges last year, saying Bonham was protected by double jeopardy.An Appeals Court decision handed down June 22 reverses the lower court’s ruling. Bonham’s lawyer says she will appeal that ruling.NATIONFirestone says tire recall complete by Aug. 29 NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. announced June 25 that it would conclude its recall of 6.5 million tires on Aug. 29.The Nashville-based tire maker said it has replaced about 6.3 million tires since the recall began on Aug. 9 of last year.To date, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believes at least 203 deaths and more than 700 injuries may be connected to problems with the tires.Average gas price falls nearly dime, survey saysCAMARILLO, Calif. -- Gas prices have dropped 9 1/2 cents in the past two weeks as available supplies continue to grow, a new survey indicates.The average price of gasoline June 22, including all grades and taxes, was $1.63, down 9.46 cents per gallon since June 8, according to the Lundberg Survey of 8,000 stations nationwide.Lundberg said prices are falling in part because gasoline supplies and refining capacity are rising, though demand tends to be strong during the summer as people drive to their vacation destinations.Low mortgage rates keep home sales upWASHINGTON -- Lured by low mortgage rates, Americans snapped up used homes in May, pushing sales to their second-highest level this year.Sales of previously occupied homes rose by 2.9 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.37 million, after declining by 3.9 percent in April, the National Association of Realtors reported June 25.Given that many economists were predicting sales would be flat or fall last month, the better-than-expected performance left analysts marveling at the industry’s resilience.The main reason the housing market has remained stable during the slowdown is because mortgage rates have stayed low. Though rates crept up in May from April, they are down more than a full percentage point from May 2000.WORLDSanyo makes suds-free washing machineTOKYO -- Clean duds without suds?That’s the promise from Japanese appliance maker Sanyo Electric Co., which has unveiled what it describes as the world’s first washing machine that cleans clothes without needing detergent.Sanyo’s new Denkaisui model range uses ultrasonic waves and electrolysis instead of liquids or powders, the Osaka-based company announced June 22.Sanyo is billing the Denkaisui as an environmentally friendly washing machine.Compiled from business wire services.

Alaska cleared for D.C.

Alaska Airlines has won landing rights at Ronald Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C., allowing the airline to operate one round-trip flight daily from the nation’s capital to Seattle and continuing on to Anchorage.The service will begin in mid-September, according to airline officials.The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded the slot to the Seattle-based airline June 22. It is one of six "beyond perimeter (landing) slots’’ available at the airport. The slot opened in December after Trans World Airlines filed for bankruptcy and was purchased by American Airlines.The news came as a great surprise to Alaska Airlines officials."We didn’t think we had a shot, considering the stiff competition for those highly coveted slots,’’ said Jack Evans, an Alaska Airlines spokesman. "We are pleasantly stunned.’’In the airline business, as everywhere else, it helps to have friends in high places."We had the strong support of Alaska’s congressional delegation,’’ Evans said.Rep. Don Young and Sens. Ted Stevens and Frank Murkowski wrote Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta in support of the Alaska Airline application. The all-Republican delegation noted that federal law grants a preference for the slots to carriers that don’t already provide service to the nation’s capital.The airline’s bid also was helped by the fact the airline flies an American-made Boeing fleet of airplanes, and by Alaskans themselves, who strongly supported the new destination, Evans said.The new destination could pave the way for other East Coast flights for Alaska Airlines, Evans said."We’ll certainly look outside our own backyard where it makes sense,’’ Evans said.

Is that glass in your canned salmon? No, but Kodiak scientists want it anyway

If you’ve ever opened a can of salmon and found what appears to be a small piece of glass, it’s most likely a substance called struvite.And if you do find some, scientists want it. Researchers at the Fish Tech Center in Kodiak are putting out a call for struvite samples so they can find ways to reduce its occurrence in canned salmon, tuna and other seafoods.Struvite is a naturally occurring mineral identified as magnesium ammonium phosphate, which forms into crystals under certain conditions. According to a bulletin from the Fisheries Research Board of Canada, the crystals -- which range in size from a grain of sand to a half-inch -- are colorless, transparent, tasteless and not harmful if swallowed.In fact, the chemical substances in the crystals are necessary in one form or another for normal health. They are always present in the bodies of fishes and animals, and the same substance has been found in humans in the tartar film on teeth and elsewhere.According to Kermit Reppond, a research chemist with the National Marine Fisheries Service in Kodiak, the Fish Tech study has two important components: To improve the procedure used to test canned salmon for the presence of struvite and to evaluate means of reducing its appearance in cans."Currently, the detection process is very laborious, and we want to find ways to speed up the process," Reppond said.In August, researchers will add struvite to salmon before it is canned and then test for the substance at a later date."We want to document the efficiency of the struvite recovery and improve the test for detection," Reppond explained.But getting enough struvite to conduct the tests has been a challenge. Reppond said scientists have not been able to create the compound in a lab setting."We can’t make it form the crystals. If we can seed the crystals in a can, more will grow. We can then see what techniques we can use to reduce the incidence," he explained.Reppond said the research, which is being done in conjunction with Cargill Inc., is important for the seafood industry."If we can eliminate the problem of struvite, we can remove the potential for bad publicity when people make the wrong conclusion that canned seafood may contain glass," he said. But first, they need sufficient amounts of struvite.Anyone finding samples, or any saved from past cans, is asked to send them to Kermit Reppond at FITC, 118 Marine Way, Kodiak, AK 99615. Questions? Call him at 907-486-1533.Roe value is surpriseThe first Alaska Salmon Price Report debuted a few months ago, and the value of salmon roe was cause for surprise and several questions. The ASPR was created by legislation that was passed last year, championed primarily by the United Salmon of Alaska group.Instead of focusing solely on canned salmon, the new report, which is compiled by the state Department of Revenue, provides updates of wholesale prices three times a year for all product forms -- frozen, canned, fillets, and so forth -- for all salmon species across the state.The report revealed a statewide wholesale value of $43.5 million for chum roe last year, of which more than 90 percent came from Southeast Alaska. The report lists an average chum roe wholesale price of $13.82 per pound. In contrast, the price for chum meat was around 25 cents a pound to fishermen.According to the Alaska Fisherman’s Journal, the roe’s value raised questions about whether it was being taxed to the extent that it could. Alaska statutes limit the revenue department’s ability to tax roe as a separate category."The department has tried for years to get the Legislature’s attention and deal with roe separately. We would like to see the roe separately accounted for. We think a lot of the value of the roe is being left on the table," Carl Meyer told the AFJ.Meanwhile, market watcher Bill Atkinson reported that first deliveries to Japan of roe from Copper River reds fetched a wholesale price of about $18.18 per pound. By early June, the price had dropped to $15.53-$15.91 per pound.Eco-label makes gainsAlaska salmon is gaining popularity among more environmentally aware consumers and companies, and that’s resulting in increased sales. Last September, Alaska salmon was the first U.S. fishery to be certified under the Marine Stewardship Council’s standard for sustainable and well-managed fisheries.The eco-label offers consumers an easy way to identify seafoods that are harvested in ways that do not lead to overfishing or destruction of the marine ecosystem.That new label resulted in the cruise ship line Lindblad Expeditions deciding to serve wild Alaska salmon on its 70 passenger ships. Lindblad Expeditions offers cuisine emphasizing regional foods, and starting this month, it will feature for the first time seafood choices bearing the MSC eco-label."We take people out to see the natural world and our message is to appreciate it and conserve it for future generations," said Tom O’Brien, director of environmental affairs for Lindblad Expeditions, which takes travelers to some of the world’s most remote locations."This gives us an opportunity to get our audience thinking about where the fish on their plates come from," he said.And back on land, Whole Foods Market has become the first U.S. retailer to carry Alaska salmon bearing the MSC eco-label."Whole Foods actively supports initiatives that allow marine life to rebuild and thrive as we constantly look to provide our customers with seafood from well-managed sources," said Steve Parkes, national seafood director for Whole Foods Market.He added: "The MSC program gives our customers the buying power to influence the management of fisheries as well as the confidence that purchasing MSC label-bearing products will not contribute to overfishing or the harming of marine ecosystems." Starting in July, Whole Foods will begin a month-long promotion called "Fish for Our Future" in all of its 125 stores nationwide.The Marine Stewardship Council was established in 1996 by the World Wildlife Fund and Unilever. Its eco-labeling program uses consumer purchasing power as an incentive for improving fishery management practices.The MSC became independent in 1999, and today has four certified fisheries in the program -- Alaska Salmon, Western Australia Rock Lobster, Thames Herring and New Zealand Hoki. More than two dozen fisheries, including Alaska pollock, are at some point in the certification process.Kodiak-based free-lance writer Laine Welch can be reached via e-mail at ([email protected]).

Forest Oil's Redoubt Shoal field doubles Cook Inlet oil reserves

KENAI -- Forest Oil Corp. estimates it can recover more than 50 million barrels of oil from its Redoubt Shoal prospect in Cook Inlet after completion of a second exploratory well from its Osprey Platform.Gary Carlson, senior vice president for Alaska operations, said the recoverable total could be even higher. Forest Oil plans to start a third well within 30 days to further delineate the field."Whether it’s going to be 50 million barrels or 75 million barrels -- additional drilling is going to help us with that," he said."This is great. It brings a whole new look for Cook Inlet," said Judy Brady, executive director of the Alaska Oil and Gas Association. "This will help attract even more new investment to exploration in the Inlet," she said.Bill Van Dyke, petroleum manager for the state Division of Oil and Gas, said the discovery will double Cook Inlet’s economic crude oil reserves if it proves to be 50 million barrels.What is just as significant as the reserve addition, Van Dyke said, was that production of oil from Redoubt Shoal will extend the economic life of the Drift River Terminal and Cook Inlet Pipeline on the west side of the Inlet.With the older producing platforms in the Inlet approaching the end of their economic life, those facilities could be shut down five to 10 years from now, Van Dyke said. New oil moving through the pipeline and terminal from Redoubt Shoal will reduce the costs of using those facilities for the platforms, also extending their life, he said.Carlson said Forest Oil has now committed to developing Redoubt Shoal and plans to spend $150 million to $175 million over the next two years to put it into production. That includes about $58 million in this year’s capital budget."We hope to be online before the end of 2002," he said. "The extent of the field, determined by further drilling, will determine whether we have to drill into 2003 to fully develop the field."He said Redoubt Shoal could produce 15,000 barrels per day, a big addition to Cook Inlet’s present production of about 30,000 barrels per day. Peak production could be even higher. Forest Oil is designing production facilities to handle up to 20,000 barrels per day.Carlson said he expects to spend about $70 million to drill additional wells. The next two wells will help determine how many production wells to drill and how many wells to drill for injecting water to pressurize the field and improve production.Osprey has slots for 28 wells. One will be a disposal well through which Forest Oil will inject drilling muds and produced water, the water that comes up with the oil, deep underground."The other 27 could be injectors and producers," Carlson said.Forest Oil plans to build two undersea pipelines to carry the oil and gas roughly 1.5 miles to West Foreland on the Inlet’s west shore, and pipelines on land to cover the remaining two miles to Kustatan. There, it will build a power plant and facilities to remove the produced water. A third pipeline will carry produced water back to Osprey for disposal through the injection well.Forest Oil also plans two 7.8-mile pipelines to carry natural gas and crude oil from Kustatan to Trading Bay. From there, it will ship oil through the existing pipeline to the tanker terminal at Drift River. Forest Oil sells its current Cook Inlet oil production to the Tesoro Alaska refinery in Nikiski, and Tesoro is a likely market for future production from Osprey, Carlson said.Forest Oil will use most of the gas produced at Osprey to fuel facilities at Kustatan, West McArthur River and Trading Bay, he said. If the field produces 15,000 barrels of oil per day, the natural gas dissolved in the oil would amount to about 4 million cubic feet per day.Forest Oil mapped two fault blocks at Redoubt Shoal from three-dimensional seismic surveys it made in 1997. In January, it announced that its first exploratory well, drilled to a depth of 15,323 feet, struck a pool of oil 450 feet deep and tested at a stabilized flow of 1,010 barrels of oil per day.Using electric pumps to help lift oil could increase the flow to 2,500 barrels per day, Carlson said.That proved reserves in the first fault block.On June 19, Forest Oil announced results from a second well to test the other fault block. That well, drilled to a depth of 15,325 feel, struck a pool of oil 452 feet deep and tested at a stabilized flow of 1,170 barrels per day. Using electric pumps to help lift the oil could increase the flow to 3,000 barrels per day, the company said.John Amundsen, Forest Oil’s health, environmental and safety manager, said the company cannot start building production facilities at Kustatan until it receives state air quality permits."Our risk is that we’re going to lose this summer’s building season," he said. "We’re still optimistic."Carlson said Forest Oil has been obtaining bids from contractors. However, he does not expect to have permits until August or September."So the contractors can’t get a whole lot done other than order equipment," he said.Some of the pieces take a year to obtain, he said. So, while Forest Oil may do civil engineering and start building foundations this year, the bulk of the construction probably will not take place until next year.Journal reporter Tim Bradner contributed to this report.

Verify adviser's fees and commissions

Whether you use a brokerage firm or the trust department of a bank or other financial institution, it is natural to rely on the advice of your individual financial adviser. We tend to trust people we like and respect. We tend to hear what we want to hear, and see what we want to see. We would like to believe that the financial advice we receive is offered solely in our best interests, but the reality may be quite different when we scrutinize the relationship. The devil is always in the details, and the details in such relationships have to do with how the adviser is compensated, and the magnitude of the compensation. Is the financial adviser giving good, solid and unbiased advice, or is the adviser in a conflict of interest? Does the investment produce the highest possible total returns for you, or does it place you in a position of assuming the risk of loss, with generous continuing compensation to the financial adviser? It is also consistent with human nature for a financial adviser, whose compensation is based in whole or in part on the fees or commissions generated by the investment, to act in his or her own best interest. All too often the financial adviser succumbs to the temptation to advise the client to invest in something that is "mutually beneficial." That is, the investment transaction itself generates a handsome commission or fee for the financial adviser. This dilemma inherently affects the independent judgment of the financial adviser. If, on the other hand, the financial adviser receives no compensation arising from the investments actually made, you can safely assume that the recommendation is untainted by any appearance of a conflict of interest. What is an investor to do? First, ask if the investment adviser is compensated on a commission basis. If the compensation is based on commission, then consider if you will receive totally unbiased investment recommendations. Human nature being what it is, a financial adviser working on commission may find it difficult to recommend investments that are solely in the best interests of the investor. The second question you should ask as an investor is how much are you actually paying each year in commissions or fees. If the financial adviser advises investing in in-house equity mutual funds that have a 5.75 percent front-end load fee (the price paid for the privilege of being allowed to invest in the mutual fund) plus an annual expense ratio of 1.3 percent per year, you should be concerned. Or if the financial adviser recommends a different version of the same mutual fund that has no front-end load, but instead a 2 percent per year expense ratio, you should continue to be concerned. It is the magnitude of the fees that is important in this second area of inquiry. Why? Because excessively high annual fees (operating expense ratios in the case of mutual funds) have a strange way of substantially affecting the total return of the investments in an adverse way. Take for example an investor with a $5 million account invested, based on the recommendation of the financial adviser, in a half dozen in-house equity mutual funds that have a 2 percent per year expense ratio. The fees extracted by the mutual fund would be $100,000 every year, whether the investments go up or down. The financial adviser receives, directly or indirectly, compensation from the investment. The market risk of loss is assumed by the investor, while the investment adviser who shares in the mutual fund fees assumes no market risk of loss. This is a good deal for the investment adviser, but not so good for the investor. After 10 years, the mutual funds annual fees add up to $1 million ignoring the compounded interest the annual fees would generate. This is an unconscionable result, but it is happening in the marketplace today. Contrast the previous example with another hypothetical one. Let us assume that the same person with $5 million went to a financial adviser that charged a flat 15 basis points (0.15 percent) per year to invest the funds. The compensation to the financial adviser is in no way based on commissions or fees other than the flat fee per year. Assume further that the financial adviser suggested that the investor invest in several diversified no-load, low fee index equity mutual funds that had an annual expense ratio of only 12 basis points (0.12 percent). The advising financial institution did not share in the 12 basis points received by the mutual fund. Fees paid by the investor every year total 27 basis points (0.27 percent) instead of 2 percent. The savings of 1.73 percent in annual fees directly translates into $86,500 less in fees to the financial adviser, and $86,500 more to the investor per year. After 10 years, the investor receives $865,000 --ignoring compounding interest again -- more because of the nominal fees charged by the second financial adviser. It is incumbent upon the investor to understand how the financial adviser is compensated and to demand full disclosure of all fees that are charged. Learn to trust, but verify as well, following the old Russian proverb favored by Ronald Reagan. Hard questions need to be asked of the financial adviser. Thorough understanding of the source of compensation and the magnitude of fees is essential. This is especially true today. When total returns are relatively small or negative, fees and commissions become a larger percentage of the total returns or losses. Over the past 10 years, most investors did not care if they paid 2 percent a year in fees, at a time when financial markets were appreciating at a rate of 20 percent or more per year. The historical probabilities do not favor such rich annual returns in the future. The magnitude of fees will become a matter of greater concern in the future. Trust but verify. James Sourant is senior trust officer at First National Bank.

GCI purchases Rogers American Cablesystems

ANCHORAGE -- General Communication Inc. has signed a $19 million agreement to buy Rogers American Cablesystems Inc., a cable television company with about 7,300 subscribers in the Palmer and Wasilla areas.The cash deal, signed June 15, will thrust the Anchorage-based telecom company into the fastest growing area in Alaska, where it will try to expand by bundling long-distance phone, Internet and other services with its cable product."The Valley is a market with great potential," said Riley Snell, general manager of GCI cable and entertainment.Snell expects state regulators to approve the deal within four months.No immediate changes are planned for customers, but Snell said rates could increase for some cable services in the future. GCI plans to spend $3 million over the next two years upgrading the system and integrating it into its own cable network.

AEDC to promote Anchorage as potential military logistics center

In July the Anchorage Economic Development Corp. will kick off a marketing effort to sell Anchorage as a warehouse and distribution center for critical military parts and equipment.A study commissioned by AEDC and completed this spring by Price Waterhouse has identified 100 major defense contractors that supply or maintain equipment for the armed services, according to Micheal Kean, transportation director for AEDC.Beginning in July, small teams of AEDC members, representing Anchorage businesses, will begin calling on these companies, pitching the idea of storing equipment or parts in Alaska that can be moved quickly to U.S. forces in the Pacific or Europe.Some of the contractors will be encouraged to send senior managers to become familiar with Alaska.Kean said the plan relies heavily on the infrastructure established at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport by major private freight carriers like Federal Express and United Parcel Service. Both of those companies now have contracts to move military equipment and supplies.Senior Air Force and Army commanders have been briefed on the plan and are supportive if the idea saves time and money, Kean said."But the military won’t drive this thing," he said. "We’ll have to make the case to the prime source contractors."The military will stand behind it if the contractor decides to put a small warehouse here or to contract with a third party for warehouse services, Kean said.The types of equipment likely to be stored in Alaska are high-value items that are often needed in hurry and can be transported by air, like jet engine replacements or parts.Changes in the military and national security situation will make it more advantageous to pre-position such parts and equipment in places where they can be moved quickly to where they are needed, Kean said. Alaska has that advantage, being a few hours’ flying time from hot spots like the Korean Peninsula or even eastern Europe.Paul Fuhs, a consultant to Cook Inlet Region Inc. working on regional port improvements, said it may be possible to some day position heavier military equipment in Alaska, relying on shorter marine transport distances to places like South Korea or Taiwan than the U.S. West Coast.Many U.S. military depots are now at inland continental U.S. locations, where equipment must be moved to either coast and then shipped to where it is needed.Alaska could play a role as the military revises its strategic defense planning, Fuhs told the Legislature’s Military Affairs Committee in a briefing this spring.

Norton appoints Pearce, Toohey to top Interior Department jobs

ANCHORAGE -- Interior Secretary Gale Norton has appointed state Sen. Drue Pearce to serve in the newly-created position of senior advisor for Alaska affairs in Washington D.C. At an Anchorage news conference on June 16, Norton also announced that Camden Toohey will serve as special assistant to the secretary for Alaska, an Anchorage-based position. "It’s important for me to see firsthand and to learn what I can about issues here in Alaska. It’s even more important that I have people who truly understand the issues of this state," Norton said of the appointments. Pearce, a Republican from Anchorage, was first elected to the state Senate in 1988, serving twice as Senate president. Prior to the Senate, she served two terms in the state House of Representatives. Her resignation from the Senate was effective June 18. "There’s probably no Alaskan that isn’t touched by the Department of the Interior and certainly almost no activity in our state that the department doesn’t have some piece of management in," Pearce said. "I pledge to Alaskans that I will be in the secretary’s office as an Alaskan working on the issues with that Alaska philosophy." Toohey has served since 1996 as executive director of Arctic Power, a nonprofit group lobbying to open the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. From 1987 to 1996 he served as an assistant to the state Senate Finance Committee. "I’ve been working on one issue for the past six years and I’m looking forward to working on a few others," Toohey said. Norton said both Pearce and Toohey will help the department with Alaska issues, including efforts to open ANWR to drilling; development of the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska; development of North Slope natural gas reserves; the right of way renewal of the trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline and other issues dealing with wildlife, endangered species and the environment. Toohey was to begin his job June 18. Pearce said she would be moving to Washington D.C. by Aug. 1. "One of the difficult things at Interior is trying to persuade westerners to move to Washington. It is, unfortunately, a real sacrifice," Norton said. Norton last visited Alaska in late March, when the Arctic refuge coastal plain -- also known as the 10-02 area -- was covered with snow and ice. She promised a return visit to the refuge in spring. "I’ve heard about the caribou herds and the calving season. I want to visit the 10-02 area and see what wildlife is present there," she said. Norton planned to travel to Arctic Village on June 18 to meet with Gwich’in Natives who oppose drilling "to gain their perspective on energy development and the caribou herds," she said. Norton said she remained confident that, with new technology, the refuge could be explored for oil and gas while protecting wildlife and the environment. She planned to visit the refuge, the North Slope oil fields and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska on June 19 and was scheduled to return to Washington D.C. the following day.  

Dock would pave way for cruise ships

Port of Anchorage officials hope $6 million for a new dock approved by the Legislature as it adjourned last month will nail down federal funds needed to construct the $30 million project. If the federal money stays in the budget and is forthcoming in October, work could be under way at the port next year. The plan is to rebuild an existing, underused petroleum dock at the port into a larger intermodal marine facility that will accommodate several types of vessels as large as 1,000 feet in length, according to Roger Graves, government and environmental affairs manager at the Port of Anchorage. This will become a key part of a plan for Anchorage to attract large cruise ships and become a home port for smaller cruise vessels that carry 150 to 200 passengers. "Our big problem in attracting cruise ships is lack of dock capacity," Graves said. "CSX and TOTE have preferential rights on the existing docks, and the only time that is really available for a cruise ship visit is Wednesday," Graves said. "However, that doesn’t work for the cruise lines, which are scheduled pretty tight," he said. The planned intermodal marine facility would provide the needed dock capacity for the cruise ships, and if they do stop here the port has additional plans for onshore improvements to accommodate cruise visitors. The new, larger dock will also accommodate larger cargo vessels that TOTE will bring into service in 2002. The port is now building a new loading trestle to handle the larger ships, Graves said. Larger tank vessels will also be accommodated, he said. Jet fuel is now being imported through the port for Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Demand for jet fuel, mainly from international air cargo airlines, has outstripped the ability of Alaska refiners to supply the fuel, requiring additional supplies to be imported. The new dock facility would also require additional dredging at the harbor, to deepen the depth at the dock at low tide from 35 feet to 45 feet. This will require an additional $26.5 million in federal funds, Graves said. He said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has completed a reconnaissance study of the dredging, and the corps and Municipality of Anchorage are now working to secure the funds needed. The port is working in partnership with Anchorage Visitors and Convention Bureau to attract cruise ships. It’s been a tough sell so far, because a stop in Seward works well with the seven-day sailing schedule most large cruise ships follow from their port of embarkation in Vancouver, British Columbia, Graves said. Sailing to Anchorage can add an extra day. However, the city will be able to offer services that many smaller communities cannot, Graves said, such as the ability to offload sewage and wastewater and take on fresh water supplies.  

Independent study questions research used to justify Steller sea lion restrictions

"There is great uncertainty about the effects of the groundfish fisheries on Steller sea lions, and the evidence presented so far is almost entirely circumstantial."That’s the conclusion of a report by independent scientists after reviewing the biological opinion that was prepared by the National Marine Fisheries Service last November. The group was contracted by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to review the controversial opinion, which many have criticized for its "questionable science." Regardless, the opinion resulted in a finding of jeopardy to the western stock of sea lions and set forth federal management measures intended to protect the endangered marine mammals.Since then, boats targeting pollock, Pacific cod and Atka mackerel have been forced to fish according to a confusing patchwork of new times and places. It’s caused considerable economic and social costs for the fishing fleets and coastal communities.On June 7 the independent group of scientists provided their interim assessment of the opinion and its underlying science and hypotheses.The group wrote: "With respect to many of the key hypotheses, there are essentially no direct data bearing on specific mechanisms of the effects of fishing on Steller sea lions. For the most part, the arguments in the BiOp are constructed on the basis that such effects are possible, biologically imaginable, and are not contradicted by the available data."In its discussion of Steller biology, the report said while there is no question that the number of sea lions in the western stock has declined dramatically since the 1970s, "there has been a marked change in the rate of decline and its spatial distribution over the past decade.""These changes suggest that the factors that contributed most strongly to the more rapid declines in the several decades prior to the 1990s may not be the most significant factors operating today. In fact, it is believed that directed take and incidental entanglement in active fishing gear played a large role in the earlier period, and both these factors are thought to be very minor now."The issue of food availability has driven the sea lion debate, and fishing has been accused of depleting the availability of food that’s important to the sea lions’ diet, based on information gathered 30 years ago."There are good reasons for suspecting that these earlier vital rates are not representative of those currently being experienced by the (Steller sea lion) population. Such data at the moment are largely lacking," the researchers concluded.Regarding foraging habits, the report said: "The lack of analysis of existing satellite data and the paucity of such data in winter, represent significant gaps in knowledge. As a result, the arguments about food availability advanced in the BiOp are largely speculative."The group is scheduled to present a final report at the September Fishery Council meeting. Also at that time, a new suite of sea lion protective measures will be proposed, set to be in effect in January 2002.Organic listingsThere’s still some hope that "aquatics" may still qualify for certification as being "organic" under new standards being developed by the federal government. A task force has recommended to the National Organic Standards Board that wild species of fish and shellfish should not qualify for certification, while farmed fish "were in."According to Paul Payton, Alaska’s representative on an organics advisory panel, the "control" issue is what drove the decision against aquatics. Payton said all the organic laws so far are based on "terrestrial" systems, where animals are controlled from early in their lives and tracked all the way to the consumer."That’s the way the law is written. It’s not about content, it’s about process. That’s a very important distinction. It’s difficult to fit aquatic species into that paradigm," he said.Interestingly, the only farmed species that make the grade are those that are raised on fish feed that "has less than 5 percent wild fish meal and oil" -- a diet that farmed salmon or any other fish finds very unappealing."They will run afoul of the requirement that feed rations fed to an organic animal must approximate what it eats in the wild, and that’s likely to prevent farmed product from winning the organic label," Payton said.He added: "The task force agreed that you can’t have organic fish meal unless you have wild organic fish. So we’re facing a situation where Alaska salmon heads and guts could be labeled organic feed, but the fillets for human consumption couldn’t be labeled organic. We found that to be a bit of a reach."The efforts of some strange bedfellows may have the clout to change the minds of the policy makers."One important thing is that the aquaculture folks are now dependent on getting wild certification before their farm feed can be certified as organic. So they are waiting around to see if we can muster the juice. And they are not going to give up," Payton said."I don’t think the door is closed forever," he added. "First off, the task force has made the recommendation, but the NOSB hasn’t acted on it. They could decide to take no action until October because the affected public hasn’t had an opportunity to have their positions heard."Kodiak-based free-lance writer Laine Welch can be reached via e-mail at ([email protected]).

Around the World June 24, 2001

StateSound advisory council president resigns ANCHORAGE -- Longtime Valdez activist Stan Stephens has resigned as president of the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens Advisory Council to protest the group’s demand for an apology from the Coast Guard.The council is a public oil-industry watchdog organization created in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez oil spill.Stephens said June 13 that the council was "very arrogant" in demanding an apology from the Coast Guard after an officer accused the council’s director of misspending travel funds.Instead, Stephens said, the council should do a better job of managing its money, spending less on administration and more on projects to improve and safeguard Prince William Sound.Stephens, operator of Prince William Sound Cruises and Tours, had been president for more than 11 years, since the agency’s creation.State supreme court shoots down random drug testsANCHORAGE -- The Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that the random drug testing policy for Anchorage firefighters and police violates the state constitution.The court decision handed down June 15 found that the city’s random drug testing policy, adopted in 1994, constitutes an unlawful search and seizure.The policy requires city employees in "public safety positions" to submit to substance abuse testing at the time of application, promotion, demotion or transfer, after a vehicle accident, for reasonable suspicion and at random, according to the Supreme Court’s ruling.The only element deemed unconstitutional were "suspicionless" or random tests, according to the decision.The issue ended up in the hands of the high court after Anchorage Superior Court Judge Karen Hunt ruled in 1997 that the city’s drug test policy -- including random tests -- was constitutional.NationalMedia gloomy about advertisingNEW YORK -- Media executives issued somber predictions June 18 on newspaper advertising prospects for the rest of this year, with most forecasting continued weakness amid uncertainty over the direction of the economy.In the first day of a midyear media conference sponsored by Gannett Co. Inc., executives of three leading companies said they saw no end this year to the advertising slump. A fourth said he believes the downturn has reached its lowest point and that advertising could pick up in the third and fourth quarters.Also at the conference, Knight Ridder, the nation’s second-largest newspaper publishing company after Gannett, said its previously announced plan to cut costs would mean eliminating 1,700 jobs.The conference got under way three days after North America’s largest newsprint manufacturer said it will trim its price by $25 a metric ton, effective July 1.While media executives said they were encouraged by the newsprint price drop, their concerns about the advertising decline dominated the first day of the conference.Palm losing ground to CompaqSAN JOSE, Calif. -- Palm Inc. remains the world’s leading supplier of handheld computers, but not for long, according to market research firm Gartner Dataquest.In its report, Gartner said Palm will lose its top spot in terms of revenue to Compaq Computer Corp. in the second calendar quarter.Palm will ship about 700,000 units worldwide, earning between $130 million to $135 million in hardware-related revenues for its fiscal quarter ended June 1. That’s a dramatic drop from the record $507 million it earned two quarters ago. Palm will announce fourth-quarter earnings results the week of June 25.By comparison, Houston-based Compaq, whose current quarter ends June 30, is expected to ship as many as 500,000 units, resulting in revenues of more than $200 million.Handspring Inc., which uses the Palm operating system in its handheld Visors, comes in third, with a projected $62 million in sales and 330,000 units for its fiscal quarter ending June 30.Palm’s loss in revenue leadership -- its first since the Palm debuted in 1996 -- stems partly from the fact that the average price of Compaq’s rival iPAQ devices are about $500, or twice that of Palm products, according to analysts.IBM chief receiving British knighthoodNEW YORK -- IBM Chief Executive Louis V. Gerstner is being awarded an honorary British knighthood, one of the kingdom’s highest honors and a rare tribute for an American business leader.Gerstner was named on a list of honorees released to coincide with the birthday of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.The award honors the role of Gerstner and IBM in developing e-commerce, or ways for businesses to market and sell via the Internet. It also praises an IBM initiative that seeks to augment education with technology.The honors place Gerstner among an elite handful of knighted Americans, including film director Steven Spielberg, retired Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, comedian Bob Hope and former presidents Reagan and Bush.WorldBoeing lays out its vision, Airbus sets dealsLE BOURGET, France -- Taking the lead in the sales race at the Paris Air Show, Airbus Industrie on June 18 announced firm orders for 44 airliners worth more than $4.2 billion and carved out a broader niche for its new superjumbo jet.As U.S.-based rival Boeing Co. outlined prospects for its in-flight Internet service and its concept for a swift passenger jet, the European aircraft maker said it had received orders from three airlines -- Air France, JetBlue Airways and Royal Air Maroc.Topping the list for Airbus was the sale of 10 A380-800 superjumbos to the French carrier, which also took an option to buy four more A380-800s. The 555-seat behemoth has a list price of $230 million. The A380, set for delivery starting in 2006, would be the world’s biggest passenger jet.While Airbus is focusing on size with the superjumbo, Boeing is eyeing speed. The Seattle-based company detailed its concept for the Sonic Cruiser, which is to fly at just under the speed of sound.-- Compiled from business wire services.

This Week in Alaska Business History June 24, 2001

Editor’s note: "This Week in Alaska Business History" revisits events that shaped our past."Those who cannotremember the past arecondemned to repeat it."-- George Santayana, 1863-195220 years ago this weekAnchorage TimesJune 25, 1981Anchorage salmon productionBy Deb DavidTimes WriterMore than 200,000 salmon a day are being flown from the Bush to six processing plants in Anchorage, one plant manager says.Mostly chums, with some kings, the fish have workers at Sea Pro-TransFresh working 24 hours a day, every day. Next week, when the season peaks, the processing lines will be doubled.Fish-hauling Bush pilots who tune up their planes for the season and the year-round freight carriers are beginning to jam Anchorage airports.Thus far, the canneries have been processing fish from the Kuskokwim and Yukon rivers and Prince William Sound. The Bristol Bay red salmon run has just begun, and Cook Inlet commercial fishing begins Friday.Anchorage TimesJune 24, 1981Southeast timber sales to resume after 90-day haltBy Betty MillsTimes Washington BureauWASHINGTON -- John Sandor, regional forester of Alaska, said today the U.S. Forest Service will announce a resumption of timber sales in the Southeast with substantial changes in the program to accommodate small business.The Forest Service slapped a three-month freeze on new timber sales in the Tongass National Forest on April 2, in the wake of a decision by a U.S. District Court judge in Seattle, finding the two major timber companies guilty of anti-competitive practices.In the Seattle case, the Reid Brothers Logging Co. sued Ketchikan Pulp Co. and Alaska Lumber & Pulp Co., accusing the two huge firms of monopolizing the lucrative timber market in Southeast. The federal court found evidence of violations of anti-trust laws in Southeast timber sales, prompting the three-month review by the Forest Service.10 years ago this weekAlaska Journal of CommerceJune 24, 1991Northrim Bank offers access by computerBy Margaret BaumanAlaska Journal of CommercePersonal computer banking privileges for business customers will be initiated in mid-July by Northrim Bank, the largest step in service for the newest contender in the Anchorage banking community.Computerized signature identification for all customers is already on file at Northrim, along with a communications system that allows employees using personal computers to call up data processing information on telephone lines that double as data lines.Business customers who sign up for personal computer banking will be able to obtain account information as often as desired and after banking hours. They will be able to call up account balance and account history information at home, transfer funds from one Northrim account to another and obtain other information, such as interest rates.Alaska Journal of CommerceJune 24, 1991State supports controversial lease salesBy Ray TysonFor Alaska Journal of CommerceThe Alaska Division of Governmental Coordination says it will support an upcoming federal oil and gas lease sale in the Chukchi Sea provided the U.S. Minerals Management Services withdraws the so-called Chukchi Polynya, a 2.8-million-acre corridor used by migrating whales and other marine mammals.Meanwhile, MMS has denied a request from the North Slope Borough to delay the June 26 Beaufort Sea sale until the Alaska Coastal Policy Council rules on its appeal of the sale.Gov. Walter J. Hickel also has sent a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Manuel Lujan urging him to reschedule the sale of 501 blocks in the Chukchi corridor off Alaska’s northwest coast.-- Compiled by Ed Bennett.

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