Alaskan Author Don Rearden will be visiting the Haines Public Library on Friday March 14th to...
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Alaska fishermen want to broaden the experimental use of cameras and other monitoring devices in the federal government’s fishery observer program. Under the recently-revamped program, many more vessels, including smaller boats, can now be required to carry an observer at times. A new industry proposal is aimed at making electronic monitoring available as an alternative to carrying that extra person on the boat. Matt Lichtenstein reports:
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The federal government expanded its fishery observer program this past year. For the first time, that meant halibut boats and smaller vessels, 40 to 60 feet long, could be selected to carry an observer. But according to Alaska Longline Fisherman’s Association Director Linda Behnken, that’s not feasible for many, “There’s a lot of the small boat fleet that simply cannot accommodate another person. They don’t have a bunk. They don’t have the safety equipment. They just don’t have space for that. So, we saw a number of people apply for a release to observer coverage on those grounds. Actually 65 percent of the boats selected in the first three quarters of the year, which is the data I’ve seen so far, those 65 percent of the boats that were selected applied for a release and were granted a release.”
Behnken credits Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner and North Pacific Fishery Management Council member Cora Campbell for helping to make sure that relief was available. Behnken thinks the releases were needed to lessen the burden of the expanded program.
However, she says it also meant that the National Marine Fisheries Service fell short of its goals for observer coverage, “So, to our mind, you’re not getting representative data if you’re not hitting those target coverage levels which can mean some problems with extrapolating that data to the remainder of the fleet.”
Behnken says the situation shifted more of the observer burden to boats that were able to accommodate them. Also, she says some fishermen chose not to use their own small boats and instead opted to fish with other skippers who had bigger vessels. She says a few others chose to sell their fishing quotas because of the new regulations.
So, Behnken says ALFA is working with other fishing groups to pursue electronic monitoring or EM as an alternative to carrying observers on small boats. In October, they applied for a federal permit to broaden the experimental use of cameras and other electronic monitoring equipment.
“We all recognize there will continue to be a need for some….for observers on the water but that there are places, there are times, there is a significant portion of the fleet that is better served by having electronic monitoring to insure you get representative data and you get it in a cost effective way. So, we’re looking to integrate EM, to use it where you can get the data that managers need, and to use it in a way that’s less intrusive and less costly than deploying human observers,” Behnken says.
Federal fishery managers are taking a slower approach to the issue than the industry would like. NMFS has a small-scale EM pilot program that involved just a handful of participants this past year. ALFA wants to incorporate that into the broader, industry-backed project to test technology on more boats. 60 vessels would be the goal for the first year of a five-year effort.
NMFS has been considering the proposal according to Martin Loefflad who is director of the agency’s Fisheries Monitoring and Analysis Division. While he won’t comment on the industry application while it’s still under review, Loefflad says NMFS is also trying to advance EM, “What we’re trying to do is improve the quality of imagery we are getting from vessels. There’s a lot of hype on this EM stuff going on worldwide right now and what we’ve seen is that a lot of work has been done all over the world that has been duplicating the same sorts of things. We want to get out of duplication and actually move this stuff forward. I personally think EM has massive potential and could revolutionize the way we sample, if we do it right.”
Observers record catch data and other information for use in fishery management and research. Loefflad says electronic monitoring will never do exactly what a person does, “People can do a variety of things. EM can do some things very, very well and we want to figure out what things it does well and then so we can use that potentially as a tool to supplement those areas where putting a person on a boat is not a feasible process.”
Loefflad says together, NMFS and the industry may be able to make some progress on moving electronic monitoring forward.
The agency has told the North Pacific Council that it will have the capacity to deploy EM equipment on 14 vessels in its pilot project next year. As an incentive for participation, NMFS proposed that volunteers would avoid the possibility of being selected to carry an observer. That would also be the case for the industry proposal.
National Marine Fisheries Service Staff will be in Petersburg to hold an informational meeting about the fishery observer program in general on Tuesday, December 3rd from 4 to 6 pm in the new Library’s large conference room.
Petersburg’s mayor is pleased with this weeks court decision in favor of the state’s latest redistricting plan. The legislative boundary map will put Petersburg in a district with Sitka and 22 other small Southeast communities, including Kupreanof, Kake, Angoon, Craig, Coffman Cove, Port Protection and Point Baker. Petersburg is in a district with Juneau under the interim plan that’s currently in place.
Mayor Mark Jensen said this week the new map makes more sense. “I just think we’re more alike than we are with downtown Juneau,” Jensen said. “I think we’re more of a working town, fishing town and they’re more of a government type run city. So I think there’s differences. Not that I have any bad things to say about the representation we had after redistricting happened from Dennis Egan and Beth Kerttula. I just think we’re more on the even grounds having the smaller communities in with us.”
The Alaska Redistricting Board’s latest plan got approval from Superior Court Judge Michael McConahy this week. The Associated Press reports that two of the plaintiffs who challenged that map do not plan to appeal the decision.
The Petersburg borough assembly this summer voted to back the new configuration which was the result of a Supreme Court ruling. That’s after the municipality joined the lawsuit against the interim plan which put Petersburg with Juneau.
That interim map will still be in place for the upcoming legislative session – meaning Petersburg will continue to be represented by Juneau democrats Beth Kerttula in the house and Dennis Egan in the Senate.
Ultimately, Jensen thinks the new district gives Petersburg a better chance of securing state funding for projects. “Instead of trying to get funding competing with the bigger municipalities. But as all of us know that the funding is going to be harder to come by anyway just the state of the, well the conditions of the state’s finances.”
Assuming no other parties to the redistricting lawsuit appeal the judge’s decision, Petersburg and Kupreanof voters will be deciding on representation for the new district for the state primary next August. Sitka democratic state representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins plans to run for the new Sitka-Petersburg house district. Petersburg resident and republican Stephen Samuelson plans to challenge him for that seat.
Petersburg’s new house district is 35. Its paired with the Ketchikan-Wrangell house district to make up Senate district “R.” Sitka Republican Bert Stedman does not have to run for re-election in 2014 and will represent the new Southeast Senate district including Petersburg in 2015.
People impacted by suicide gather around the globe tomorrow (Saturday) November 23rd to share their loss and seek healing. Here in Petersburg, a video viewing and discussion will be at the fire hall conference room Saturday, November 23rd, from 2-4 p.m. for International Survivors of Suicide Day. Joe Viechnicki spoke with two organizers of the event.
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Icy roads are creating hazardous driving conditions in Southcentral Alaska today.
Freezing rain began coating snow at around 9am. By noon cars were stranded across Anchorage and the People Mover bus system had shut down.
Anchorage Public Transportation Director, Lance Wilbur, says buses have been pulled off roads until sanding is completed.
“Right now the road conditions as many people know, they’re deteriorating in bad shape. Our current schedules are way down due to other vehicular accidents. We’ve got one bus in distress. And so I’ve halted all the service effective immediately, except for those busses that are on route,” Wilbur said. “We’ve asked them to stop until further notice and hopefully the conditions will improve later this evening so we can pick people up and bring them home later tonight.”
Icy conditions stretch beyond Anchorage from Seward to as far north as Talkeetna. The Valley Mover Bus system in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley is operating on a delayed schedule this afternoon but plans to make evening runs to help people get back home from work in Anchorage.
The Mat-Su Borough says there were at least three separate school bus accidents this morning, and in Wasilla near Knik Goose Bay Road one accident the bus slid onto its side off of the road. There were 14 students on board. The Mat-Su School District reports three students and one driver were transported to Matsu Regional Hospital with minor injuries. They were reportedly released.
After school activities are canceled in the Matsu School District and in Anchorage. Both districts advise delays are likely for school busses transporting students home.
University of Alaska Anchorage closed at noon.
Chugach Electric reports that the entire Kenai Peninsula from Girdwood South is without power, but Sarah Wiggers, a spokesperson for Chugach, says they don’t think it’s related to the storm.
“At approximately 11:30 a.m. Homer Electric Association had two units trip at Nikiski which in turn caused Bradley Lake and Cooper Lake units to trip offline,” Wiggers said. “Chugach customers from Girdwood South are included in this outage. Chugach and Homer are working to get all units back online.”
Wiggers says Chugach happens to be in the process of repairing the line that they would normally use to ship power from Anchorage to the Kenai Peninsula. She says they’re hoping to have the repair done soon so that they can ship power down if needed.
Matanuska Electric Association is also reporting that 500 members are without power in Butte, Meadow Lakes, and the area from Sutton to Matanuska Glacier.
Archaeologists have discovered the oldest wine cellar known, and the personal stash was massive: It once stored more than 500 gallons of vino. But these Bronze Age winemakers weren't just fermenting plain-old wine. They also got creative, infusing it with herbs and spices.
Louisiana is paying tribute Friday to the Rev. T.J. Jemison, a strong and steady voice against unequal treatment for blacks in the Jim Crow South. Jemison helped organize a bus boycott in Baton Rouge in 1953 and later advised Martin Luther King Jr. and others on how to orchestrate the Montgomery boycott.
Sage Worl teaches Raven how to say the word, “drum” in his Alaskan Native language. Sage’s family speaks TLINGIT.
The TLINGIT word for DRUM is GAW.
Icy roads turned Southcentral Alaska roads into skating rinks, causing numerous accidents, closing schools and making driving difficult.November 22, 2013
The banking giant has agreed to pay a record sum to the U.S. government over charges that it knew it was selling risky mortgage products. But it's not clear exactly what, if anything, the bank is admitting to — or if the government's case would have held up in a jury trial.