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Alaska and Yukon Headlines

Expert Anticipates Low Prices For Togiak Herring Fishery

Tue, 2014-04-22 17:18

The largest herring fishery in Alaska is the Togiak sac-roe herring fishery and many stakeholders are preparing for an early start to the season. But at least one expert thinks the price may be so low this year, it won’t be worth fishing.

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Comment Period Opens For Cruise Waste Permits

Tue, 2014-04-22 17:17

The Legislature approved new regulations last year for cruise ships to release wastewater into Alaska’s oceans. Since then, the state has developed a permit process based on those regulations. Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s Division of Water Director Michelle Hale stopped in Ketchikan this week to talk about the changes.

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Division of Water Director Michelle Hale. (KRBD photo)

With the new regulations in place, cruise ships that travel through Alaska’s Inside Passage will have better wastewater treatment systems than some coastal communities.

Hale said no untreated sewage is allowed to be dumped, and the legislation closed so-called “donut holes,” parts of the ocean that were just outside of state jurisdiction. The main activity that the new regulations now allow is the use of mixing zones.

“And that’s very similar to all other industries and municipalities in the state of Alaska,” she said. “It’s a little bit controversial relative to cruise ships; it’s a very standard practice when we are actually permitting wastewater discharges.”

Ketchikan has numerous mixing zones for the various wastewater permits, allowing discharge into the Tongass Narrows. They include the City of Ketchikan’s Charcoal Point Wastewater Treatment Facility, Point Higgins School, seafood processors, the shipyard, the Coast Guard, Vallenar View Mobile Home Park and the airport, among many others.

Mixing zones allow discharge to exceed the standards for certain contaminants, as long as

the standards are met within a certain distance of that initial discharge. In other words, it becomes diluted fairly quickly after its hit the water.

Hale said mixing zones for cruise ships are a little different, because ships move.

“The cruise ship defines two different regulatory mixing zones, one for discharge underway and one for discharge at 6 knots or less or stationary,” she said. “Primarily, that 6 knots or less is for stationary vessels, but we kind of had to make a break point. So, if you’re going faster than 6 knots, you get covered under one mixing zone, if you’re going slower, you’re covered under another.”

Hale said some members of the public were concerned that the permits for cruise ships wouldn’t protect the ocean enough. But, she said, her division wrote the permits in a way that treats cruise ships like other wastewater discharge systems.

“When we do our modeling and establish limits, we do that so that the water is protected, so that water quality is protected for the uses that that water is used for,” she said.

Hale said the water must be safe enough for a fish to pass through the area within 15 minutes, and not be affected.

She notes that it’s possible for cruise ships to treat wastewater so that it meets all standards before the water is released into the ocean; but it’s not practicable.

“This is our regulatory definition for practicable: ‘Available and capable of being done, taking into consideration cost, technology that actually exists and logistics, in light of overall project purposes,’” she said. “So, what practicable means, is it has to make sense.”

More details about the draft cruise ship wastewater permit program is available on the Division of Water’s website. That’s also the place to go to find out how to submit comments. The comment period closes May 23rd.

Click the following link to review the Division of Water’s draft permit for cruise ship wastewater.

Tlingit Elder, Master Storyteller Cyril George Dies

Tue, 2014-04-22 17:16

Cyril George Sr. in 2007, speaking at Angoon Presbyterian Church, where his son Joey George is pastor. (Photo by Skip Gray/KTOO)

Tlingit elder Cyril George Sr. has died at the age of 92. A fisherman, boat builder, master story teller, and man of great faith, George passed away last week at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage.

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A memorial service for Cyril George Sr. is Wednesday, 6 p.m., at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall in Juneau. The Tlingit elder died April 15 at the age of 92.

Over his life, he was a fisherman, boat builder, master storyteller, and man of great faith.

George was of the Deisheetan clan (Raven/Beaver) of Angoon and lived in the Admiralty Island community most of his life. He moved to Juneau in 1975.

One of his five sons, Richard George, recalls his father to be a successful seiner, halibut and herring fisherman.

He also served his community. He was elected to the Angoon City Council and was mayor. He was on the first board of directors of Sealaska, the regional Native corporation for Southeast, from 1972 to 1974, and served as a member of the board for Kootsnoowoo Inc., Angoon’s village corporation.

Richard George remembers his father as a strong man.

He made decisions which always seemed to be the proper decision. That’s what I was impressed with when I was young,” he says. 

Cyril George attended Sheldon Jackson high school and college in Sitka in the late 1930s, where he became a machinist and learned to build boats. The Presbyterian school was tasked with helping Tlingit shipwright Andrew Hope build the Princeton Hall, a replacement vessel for the church mission fleet.

“I wasn’t the only one that had this feeling of an enormous undertaking when he started to build this boat,” Cyril George recalled in a 2007 interview with KTOO.

“I could weld, I did everything in the machine shop. I was with him all the way from lining up the motor, the shaft, setting up the electrical,” he said. George also built the shaft.

It took a year to complete the Princeton Hall. Then in 1941, just a few days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the boat was to be launched.  It had already been conscripted by the U.S. Navy.

George said all the Sheldon Jackson students trooped down to the harbor to watch the launch.

“When the Navy started to tow it away all the kids were crying. I was crying. I don’t think there was anybody that wasn’t crying,” he said.

After the war, the Princeton Hall was returned to the Presbyterians and it traveled Southeast Alaska waters for years, going village to village.

While George helped build it, he had never been on the boat. Many years later, he had a number of cruises on the Princeton Hall after it was purchased by the late Bill Ruddy. Bill and Kathy Ruddy became close friends with Cyril George, the boat builder, the musician, and the Tlingit storyteller.

George gradually began to lose his hearing. For several years, Kathy Ruddy took on the role of stenographer – typing out conversations for him.

“It really helped him to have things written down so he could look over your shoulder and know what people were saying,” she says.

The hearing loss didn’t slow him down. He continued to play his guitar and sing, visit classrooms, churches, and be involved in the community. He was a delegate to the Juneau chapter of Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, which provided a transcriber for George, so he could be actively involved.

“You know for a guitarist and a really excellent musician, hearing loss is a really poignant thing,” Ruddy says. “The fact that he maintained this constant sense of gratitude even as hearing was failing is just a tribute to his character.”

As a fluent Tlingit speaker, George liked to teach his language and often went to Tlingit language classes at the University of Alaska Southeast, taught by Lance Twitchell.

“In Tlingit he’d tell us: ‘I just feel wonderful whenever I’m looking upon your faces and you guys are learning your language.’ He said he felt that it (Tlingit language) was drifting away from us but then just seeing us fills him with hope.”

Son Richard George calls his father a Godly man. In the 2007 interview, Cyril George talked about a battle with alcohol, which he said he finally won through prayer and his faith.

He was a member of the Salvation Army and was a local commissioned officer known as a sergeant major. He often wore his uniform and always wore it to church, says Lt. Lance Walters of the Salvation Army in Juneau.

He explained one day that he put it on to remind him of what he came from and that he wasn’t going back,” Walters says.

George will be buried on Killisnoo Island near Angoon.

Alaska News Nightly: April 22, 2014

Tue, 2014-04-22 17:03

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn.

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BP Sells Some North Slope Assets To Hilcorp

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

BP announced Tuesday it’s selling some of its assets on the North Slope. The company will sell to aging oil fields – Endicott and Northstar – to Hilcorp, a company that is developing oil and gas wells in Cook Inlet. Hilcorp will also buy a 50 percent interest in two other fields- Milne Point and Liberty.

Legislature Remains Embroiled Over Education Bill

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

The Alaska State Legislature is still at an impasse over the Governor’s education bill.

Miller Kicks Off Campaign in Wasilla

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller kicked off his campaign Monday night in Wasilla before a few hundred supporters. Miller drew cheers as he hit on popular Tea Party themes, like abolishing the IRS and ending state surveillance. And he may be the only candidate in the race with a personalized country-western anthem.

APD Implements New Crime-Tracking Systems

Jolene Almendarez, APRN – Juneau

The Anchorage Police Department is using two new systems to communicate with the public about crimes in the city. One is a crime mapping system and the other allows city residents to receive messages directly from the department.

Expert Anticipates Low Prices For Togiak Herring Fishery

Mike Mason, KDLG – Dillingham

The largest herring fishery in Alaska is the Togiak sac-roe herring fishery and many stakeholders are preparing for an early start to the season. But at least one expert thinks the price may be so low this year, it won’t be worth fishing.

Comment Period Opens For Cruise Waste Permits

Leila Kheiry, KRBD – Ketchikan

The Legislature approved new regulations last year for cruise ships to release wastewater into Alaska’s oceans. Since then, the state has developed a permit process based on those regulations. Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s Division of Water Director Michelle Hale stopped in Ketchikan this week to talk about the changes.

Tlingit Elder, Master Storyteller Cyril George Dies

Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau

Tlingit elder Cyril George Sr. has died at the age of 92. A fisherman, boat builder, master story teller, and man of great faith, George passed away last week at the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage.

Brace Yourselves, Bird Season Is Coming

Dave Waldron, APRN – Anchorage

Birding season is about to pick up in Alaska, and now is the perfect time to start preparing.

Illegal lingcod harvest in Gulf of Alaska brings $12,000 fine, probation

Tue, 2014-04-22 16:26
Illegal lingcod harvest in Gulf of Alaska brings $12,000 fine, probation Alaska Wildlife Trooper Sgt. Brent Johnson said the illegal lingcod harvest was substantial for that region, amounting to approximately 70 percent of the entire lingcod quota for the area. April 22, 2014

Competition Bureau to review First Air-Canadian North airline merger

Tue, 2014-04-22 15:05
Competition Bureau to review First Air-Canadian North airline merger Some residents of northern Canada are worried that passenger fares and cargo rates will rise if competitors combine. April 22, 2014

New wind parks to be constructed in North Finland

Tue, 2014-04-22 14:53
New wind parks to be constructed in North Finland Approvals have been granted for the new farms, where 45 wind turbines are expected to produce power, at a cost of $276 million. April 22, 2014

Upstart Hilcorp buys share of North Slope assets from BP

Tue, 2014-04-22 14:09
Upstart Hilcorp buys share of North Slope assets from BP Much-smaller Hilcorp, known for its role in rejuvenating oil production in the aging Cook Inlet oil patch, is expected to agree to become operator of the Endicott, Northstar and Milne Point oilfields on Alaska's North Slope.April 22, 2014

Rider dies after snowmobile flips

Tue, 2014-04-22 13:55
A Whitehorse man is dead following a snowmobile accident on Good Friday along the South Klondike Highway.

Nominations wanted for Arctic Inspiration Prize

Tue, 2014-04-22 13:52
A total of $1 million is up for grabs and some, possibly all of it, could go to projects happening in the Yukon.

‘Caribou Legs’ Firth feted in Dawson and Mayo

Tue, 2014-04-22 13:50
Brad Firth, better known as Caribou Legs, took a short break last Wednesday and Thursday from his 1,200-km run from Inuvik to Whitehorse to attend fund-raising meetings honouring his quest in Mayo and Dawson.

In Homer, hungry great horned owl swipes a lucky-to-survive chihuahua

Tue, 2014-04-22 12:50
In Homer, hungry great horned owl swipes a lucky-to-survive chihuahua When a great horned owl swept low across a yard and then out of sight in Homer carrying a pet dog, the family was devastated. But the tale of the dog and raptor was only beginning. April 22, 2014

Washington man busted aboard Alaska ferry with $15,000 of meth

Tue, 2014-04-22 12:49
Washington man busted aboard Alaska ferry with $15,000 of meth Alaska State Troopers found 2 ounces of meth, along with 32 baggies containing suspected meth, in Kenneth Bradley's backpack on Monday morning, according to charging documents.April 22, 2014

Mallott: Alaska needs to fix its Medicaid repayment mess

Tue, 2014-04-22 12:47
Mallott: Alaska needs to fix its Medicaid repayment mess OPINION: Alaska's Medicaid payment system is a mess and it is affecting everyone from large hospitals and medical practices to self-employed Alaskans. And it's time to make fixing the problem a priority.April 22, 2014

Sweden pauses payment to international climate change fund

Tue, 2014-04-22 12:42
Sweden pauses payment to international climate change fund The leading party in Sweden's governing coalition has overruled the environment minister's 2013 pledge of support for a fund aiding impoverished countries.  April 22, 2014

In My Family: No

Tue, 2014-04-22 12:40


Raven learns how to say NO in the Alaska Native language Unangax with Ethan Petticrew.

Yukoners complete emotional Boston Marathon

Tue, 2014-04-22 12:40
Five Yukoners were part of the 35,755 runners who took to the streets yesterday for the 118th edition of the Boston Marathon.

Olympian lends hand to Nicaraguan school project

Tue, 2014-04-22 12:37
Whitehorse cross-country skier Emily Nishikawa is continuing to inspire Yukoners, even during her offseason.

Two Rescued As Troller Goes Aground In Heavy Surf

Tue, 2014-04-22 09:29

SMR captain Don Kluting describes sea conditions at Low Island Monday morning as “a bit sporty.” Crew members left the Mirage on foot, once the tide ebbed. (SMR photo/Don Kluting)

Two crewmen were rescued safely after their troller ran aground in heavy seas in Sitka Sound early this morning (Mon 4-21-14).

The 52-foot steel-hulled troller Mirage radioed a distress call at about 3:30 AM. The boat had gone aground on the southern shore of Low Island, in surf and strong winds.

Don Kluting coordinates Sitka’s Mountain Rescue team, which also conducts maritime operations.

Kluting says he and three other team members left the harbor in darkness, and used night-vision goggles and a global positioning system to navigate the six miles out to Low Island, where they arrived at daybreak. The team was prepared for the worst.

“Full precautions. We had everybody in drysuits, had tow ropes. We had briefed that we were going try and establish a tow. We had a line gun with us. Basically, getting ready to pull a fairly large vessel out of the surf and try to give them enough to keep the waves from pushing them farther and farther up on the rocks to get him under his own power.”

Low Island is a known hazard in Sitka Sound, or a known recreation area, depending on your point of view. When a swell is running, Sitkans occasionally surf the waters between Low Island and Shoals Point.

Once Kluting and his team found the Mirage it quickly became clear that the stranded troller would not be going anywhere.

“We had breaking surf conditions 100-yards around him in all directions. We had circled around that south end of Low Island trying to figure out a path to get in close. And it pretty much not going to happen, and we made a determination to get a helicopter out from Air Station Sitka.”

Kluting says the rescue boat was able to get within 50 yards of the Mirage while waiting for the helicopter, and stood by in the event the troller capsized or swamped and the two crewmen were forced into the water.

The Coast Guard helicopter rescue crew determined that the safest course of action would be to let the tide go out from under the Mirage. After about 90-minutes, the helicopter landed on Low Island and the two fishermen were able to walk ashore unharmed and board the aircraft.

Kluting says he is not optimistic about an immediate salvage of the Mirage.

“Not a friendly location, getting a larger vessel in there and establishing a tow rope in those conditions is going to be challenging at best. With the tide not being as high, it’s going to be interesting to see if they’re able to drag it off. Or if that next storm coming in doesn’t beat up the hull too bad.”

The weather forecast for Sitka called for winds of 29 knots on Monday, and seas of 13 feet, with seas falling to 9 feet on Tuesday.

Kluting was accompanied on the mission by Gerald Gangle, Tyler Orbison, and Jake Denherder. Kluting says he has received no official word on the cause of the accident. The Coast Guard reports the Mirage has about 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel on board.

The Mirage is registered to J&J Mirage LLC in Elfin Cove, Alaska. According to state records, it is valued at $200,000.

Federal Subsistence Board Votes To Limit Kuskokwim Kings to Federally Qualified Users

Tue, 2014-04-22 09:23

Federal management responsibility map, from Office of Subsistence Management.

The Federal Subsistence Board Thursday unanimously approved a special action request from the Napaskiak Traditional Council that would limit any available king salmon to federally qualified subsistence users of 32 specific Kuskokwim communities.

In the discussion about limiting the pool of eligible fisherman, the board heard passionate testimony about the need for chinook harvest.

“Through blood, sweat, and tears we feed our families,” said George Guy of Kwethuluk.

They also heard calls for strong conservation measures. Lisa Feyereisen is from Chuathbaluk.

“I want to be able to show my grandchildren what a Chinook salmon looks like,” said Feyereisen.

The action passed by the board doesn’t specifically open up any harvest of kings nor does it shut down fisheries that could incidentally catch kings. All it does it say who will be at the table if the runs comes in stronger than expected.

Between 71,000 and 117,000 kings are expected in the river this year. If the run is on the smaller side, there could be little to no surplus.

Gene Peltola Junior is the Assistant Regional Director for the Office of Subsistence Management.

“The forecast right now is for a very small harvestable surplus. If there is not an opportunity for a harvestable surplus, all of this is a moot point. But if the run progresses such that there is deemed to be a harvestable surplus available you have to have this in place in attempt to allocate or provide fish,” said Peltola Junior.

In that scenario, the initial pool contains residents of 32 villages, running from Chefornak up to McGrath, including Bethel. The list excludes communities in South Kuskokwim Bay and Nelson Island including Quinhagak, Platinum, Goodnews Bay, Nightmute, Newtok, Tununuk and Tooksook Bay, plus Mekoryuk on Nunivak Island.

The 14,000 people in the 32 communities still have incredible fishing power. David Jenkins is with the Office of Subsistence Management.

“We still have the problem under that situation of a projected too few fish and lots of users who would access to those fish,” said Jenkins.

Managers would need to further restrict among those users. The board indicated they wanted the federal in season manager to have a range of management tools at his disposal, but they did not specify an exact allocation strategy.

There were several ideas presented by the Office of Subsistence Management for how a surplus might be handled. Managers could begin by allocating 25 chinook salmon per village. If there are more fish available, the surplus could be split among villages, excluding Bethel, proportionally based on their 20 year harvest average.

The allocation among Bethel residents could be done through a second so-called section 804 analysis, in which individuals would see opportunity based on three criteria: customary and direct dependence on the resource as a mainstay of livelihood, local residency and the availability of other resources.

But it is mid April already. The draft framework says if it were not possible to do that analysis in time, there could be a simple drawing permit for Bethel residents.

The board did not endorse any of the presented allocation schemes, but expressed a wish for the in season manager to have alternatives available.