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Summary for January 21 - January 25, 2008:

Monday, January 21, 2008 

Governor's guy gets an earful about marine reserves

GOLD BEACH – Gov. Ted Kulongoski's chief of staff didn't get the reaction he hoped Friday when he spoke to more than 70 Curry County fishermen and business people during the third day of stops in towns along the Oregon coast to promote marine reserves.

 "Every town I've been in has responded to this differently," Chip Terhune said. "It's amazing to me how differently the people along the coast differ. Some people seem supportive. You folks, frankly, aren't."

 Terhune said the governor told him "I want you to go to the coast and listen to people."

He said he was hearing support in some communities, but "all of them don't want this to have a negative impact. He (the governor) believes every problem has a solution. ... The governor believes there can be an Oregon solution to this problem."

 Jim Relaford, Port of Brookings Harbor commissioner, said he had attended the last two meetings of the Ocean Policy Advisory Council, which he says is following the governor's demand to recommend up to 10 marine reserves along the Oregon coast.

 "I would advise the governor to determine there is a problem before we seek a solution," Relaford said. "We are all conservationists. We depend on the ocean."

 Relaford said maybe it would be appropriate for the governor to replace OPAC's mission.

 "Now, it's responding to the governor's request for 10 or less marine reserves. Why doesn't he revise that and say ‘go find a way to make the ocean better?'"

 What was planned as a one-hour stop stretched to almost two hours as those people packing the Gold Beach city council chambers had their say. Only one person, Peg Reagan, former Curry County Commissioner and now executive director of Conservation Leaders Network, spoke in favor of marine reserves.

 "I know I'm in the minority at this meeting," Reagan said. "I think reserves are based on science. What I'm hearing represents fear."

 Curry County Commissioner Lucie La Bonté said she fears marine reserves could harm the county's economy.

 She said the county had three legs of its economy in the 1990s – timber, tourists and fishing. She said when timber was cut off, the economy suffered and she said tourism has been reduced because of fishing restrictions.

 "Other counties on the coast have brought in industry," La Bonté said. But she said they have access to Interstate 5 or railroads while Curry County suffers because of lack of transportation.

 Ralph Brown of Brookings said he has been interested in fishing resources for a long time.

 "I've met a whole lot of people. Earlier this year we got to talking about what's going on in the ocean. There's a whole lot of uses being proposed for the ocean. The fishing community is not involved in a lot of them. There's a lot of fear."

 He said he put together a meeting of interested parties to talk and planned a meeting.

 "I invited the governor's office, a mix of environmentalists, fishing types," Brown said. "I got an e-mail that I was trying to use this on the marine reserve process. I felt only the need of a comprehensive plan. I got calls from people that they were concerned. It came from the governor's office."

 He said he was asked to cancel the meeting.

 "It was because of lobbying from the governor's office. They felt it would get in the way of marine reserves," Brown said. "We had an opportunity to get together and talk. The governor's office, for whatever reason, killed that opportunity."

 Rep. Wayne Krieger, R-Gold Beach, said Brown's experience is an example of what legislators have found: "Working relationships and trust that does not exist in the Legislature, Coastal Caucus, the fishing community. The lack of conversation between the Legislature and the governor's office."

 Krieger said he and other legislators were working on the marine reserves bill last week.

 "One of the things that came up: It was explicit the state should take no funding from environmental groups or anything else. If it's needed, the state should pay for it. You can't rely on the Sierra Club to put up $11 or $12 million to do this. It brings credibility, accountability and a bit of trust in this process."

 John Wilson, a local processor and commercial fisherman, said he felt the whole marine process is directed at adding regulation that is not needed to fishing.

 "We're just a pittance of what we have been in the past. Certain stocks are rebuilding. We'd like to see that the ocean return to be productive."

 Mark Lottis said the fishing industry needs less restrictions.

 "A lot of people don't think we're already restricted," he said. "We're highly restricted. We turn tickets in every day on the number of fish caught. There's people on the docks counting fish. There's this huge process in place and has been in place over the years. Fish are responding to this and have rebounded."

 Port of Brookings Harbor Director Rich Drehobl said scientists need a plan before they begin research.

 "For 32 years, it was my job to sort out junk science from pure science," Drehobl said. "To date, no one has articulated what is to be studied (in marine reserves)."

 Port of Brookings Harbor Commissioner Roy Davis said he does not support marine reserves and believes the fishing industry would suffer with those reserves.

 "If it impacts us economically, how are we going to pay the state back what we owe them?" Davis asked. "More regulation. I don't know if we can take it. You are going to have marine reserves, buffer zones, fish farms. Where are these people going to earn a living?"

 Port of Brookings Harbor Commissioner Sue Gold said if there must be marine reserves there should be a test site first.

 "Why not have one as a test site on a county that wants it? Why not that instead of impose on the whole Oregon coast?" she asked.

 Terhune said the governor is not saying where marine reserves should go.

 "He's depending on OPAC to sort this out," Terhune said.

 "This should not be a political process," Port of Gold Beach Commissioner Bill McNair said. "We're trying to protect fisheries."

 Brown said that, contrary to what some people think, there are no endangered species off the Oregon coast except salmon.

 "It has nothing to do with endangered species," Brown said. "They are not threatened or endangered. Canary rockfish we're harvesting one-tenth of 1 percent annually."

 He said most fish are harvested 1 percent or 2 percent each year – "5 percent is considered extremely high."

 Brown said overfishing is created by regional councils.

 "It was due to harvest policy," he said. "It has nothing to do with threatened or endangered." – Curry (County) Pilot

Mercury in Alaska fish: Something else to worry about

For the most part, most Alaska fish species have relatively low levels of mercury, but there are a few exceptions to consider.

 In a recent University of Alaska study, 17 freshwater and 24 anadromous and marine fish species were examined for concentrations of methyl mercury, MeHg, the most toxic form to humans.

 In total, 2,692 fish were analyzed to determine if levels of MeHg might prove harmful to Alaskans, who consume much more fish than the national average.

 Intake of fish and fish oils have long been hypothesized to reduce and/or prevent cardiovascular disease, but recent epidemiological studies have shown that mercury may counteract the beneficial cardiovascular effects of n-3 fatty acids in fish.

 Mercury is a naturally occurring element that has many uses, including acting as effective pesticides, fungicides and preservatives. Recent human-induced activities, such as erosion from mining and atmospheric deposition due to burning of fossil fuels, have caused unnaturally high concentrations of contaminants.

 Among those contaminants is mercury, which can threaten the physical health of both fish species and the human populations that depend on them for subsistence.

Mercury tends to build up in higher trophic animals, such as fish, through a process called "biomagnification."

 Bacteria, plankton and algae are mixed in and consume various nutrients and contaminants in the waters in which they live. Though mercury levels in plankton-eaters are relatively low, as higher-level trophic organisms consume masses of lower-level organisms, the dosage of nutrients and contaminants are then magnified in the tissues of these organisms.

 Subsistence food provides people with the nutrients from fish as well as the contaminants that those fish may be carrying, such as mercury. Increasing exposure to even low concentrations of mercury in food is often associated with an increased risk of neurochemical or cardiovascular damage.

 Of the species most commonly consumed in Alaska, salmon had exceptionally low mercury concentrations, Pacific halibut and sablefish had higher, but not dangerous, levels. And northern pike contained the highest concentration of mercury, often exceeding the state's guidelines for food consumption.

 Mercury concentrations in freshwater fish can vary greatest from watershed to watershed.

Researchers also reported that mercury is not removed from fish tissue by common cooking methods and that cooking and drying subsistence foods, including fish, tends to remove water without removing mercury, thus increasing its concentration.

 Based on federal Environmental Protection Agency guidelines, consumption limits for adults show that 16 chinook salmon meals or 31 sockeye salmon meals may be eaten per month, while one pike or six grayling meals may be eaten per month. Because of children's body size, it is more hazardous for them to consume pike and grayling than it is for adults.

 Nevertheless, the Alaska Department of Public Health strongly recommends that Alaskans continue consumption of fish from Alaskan waters as part of a balanced diet. --  Reid Brewer of Unalaska is a marine biologist with the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Marine Advisory Program.

Dredging blamed for Australian fish lesions

Diseased fish found in Victoria's Port Philip Bay are being linked to trial dredging carried out two-and-a-half years ago.

 The Environment Protection Authority is testing fish found with lesions.

 Opponents of the channel deepening project have jumped on the discovery of sick fish in the bay, calling for next months dredging to be halted.

 John Wallis from the Blue Wedges says similar fish lesions appeared in the days of scallop dredging

 "It's interesting to note that we are seeing them again after trial dredging," he said.

 Geoff Cramer from the recreational fishing body, VR Fish, says poor water quality caused by higher temperatures and excess freshwater flows is likely to blame.

But he agrees dredging should be postponed in case toxic sediment has caused the disease

 "Hopefully there is not a link but they need to find that out before they move that sediment," he said. – Australian Broadcasting Corp.

Feds want to kill 30 sea lions a year at Bonneville

PORTLAND — A federal agency recommended killing about 30 sea lions a year at a Columbia River dam where the marine animals feast on salmon migrating upriver to spawn. By many estimates, the sea lions devour about 4 percent of spring runs.

 Fishermen and Columbia River tribes have urged action for years against the sea lions at Bonneville Dam.

 The recommendation was short of what Oregon, Washington and Idaho had requested in 2006.

 At least three of the upper Columbia River spring salmon runs that pass through the dam are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, most significantly the spring chinook salmon run.

 Sea lions are attracted to the dam east of Portland because of the large number of fish that gather there to pass through the "fish ladders" — or openings in the structure that allow fish to continue swimming upstream to spawning grounds.

 Sea lions are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, but are not considered threatened. An amendment to the 1972 law allows states to get permission

to kill identifiable sea lions or seals that have "a significant negative impact" on at-risk salmon and steelhead. NOAA Fisheries can grant the states' requests under some conditions.

NOAA plans to take public testimony on four alternatives through Feb. 19 and make a decision in March. If the recommendation is implemented, a committee approved by NOAA would set standards for capturing or killing the sea lions. – Associated Press

Tripo Costello passes

BELLINGHAM — Funeral services for Tripo Costello, best known for playing the role of Santa Claus on Christmas Ship voyages through the San Juan Islands, are scheduled for next week.

Costello, 84, was a commercial fisherman and carpenter who was widely known for his extensive collection of stamps and postcards. He also ran unsuccessfully for the Port of Bellingham commission. He served in the U.S. Navy.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

More questions than answers in wave energy plan

COOS BAY — The guy from Ocean Power Technologies Inc. came to town with a wave energy sales pitch.

They all did.

 The commercial fishermen, the longshoremen, the anti-liquefied natural gas folks. The port did, too.

It was OPT representative Steven Kopf who claimed the most attention. He stood for about an hour and a half before the commissioners who govern the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay. He touted the possible benefits of building a wave energy project off Coos Bay’s North Spit.

It will be an experimental site, he said. The technology is in its infancy. But these buoys would be bigger and better output-wise than the wave riders proposed offshore of Gardiner. The new design would not require the buoys carry oil, compared to the 400-gallon oil-packing devices proposed to the north.

For Coos Bay, initially there would be 20 buoys planted in the ocean 2.5 miles from shore, with the anchor gear at 40 to 45 fathoms, he said. At full build out, the site would cover three-quarters of a mile of sea somewhat northwest from the Horsfall Beach parking lot, according to Kopf’s map.

“We’re not looking for marine reserve-sized tracts,” he said.

The electricity-generating machines would go in the water in 2010 if Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permitting goes as planned.

And, he said, Coos Bay has one big benefit.

“We want a deepwater draft port.”

New Jersey-based OPT would build the devices here and export them to other places on the West Coast some day, he suggested. Although, Kopf stressed that right now Portland’s Oregon Iron Works is getting the business on building the first 10 buoys. There aren’t any steel plate-rolling facilities on the coast. But as the technology matures, he said, the company would like to have production at the deepwater port, he said.

Kopf’s talk never touched on specifics, as far as dollars or jobs that might be generated for the local economy.

“If there isn’t any industry, I can tell you how many jobs we’ll create  — none,” Kopf said.

But that comment came in contrast to fishing industry anti-wave energy testimony in the meeting’s first hour. Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission Executive Director Nick Furman stood up and spoke all about economics.

Fifty-seven of the 433 boats with crab permits in Oregon are based in Charleston. Those boats over the past five years brought in $44 million of crab. Doing the math that spins those dollars through the community, it’s been a $132 million contribution to the economy.

Furman said fishermen aren’t fearing the 10- or 20-buoy experimental wave energy parks. It’s the full build out to 200 buoys off Coos Bay that terrifies them.

“That’s the fear ... coupled with an undefined amount of marine reserves ... has the potential of putting this industry totally out of business,” Furman said.

Kopf said that despite all the fear he doesn’t see wave energy occupying much space along the entire Oregon Coast. He doesn’t think buoys for all future projects would cover more than 6 miles of area coastwide. His company believes Oregon can’t use or send out more than 600 megawatts of power. Just for comparison, the Lincoln Public Utility District’s total power use now, with all its customers, is 400 megawatts, he explained.

But Kopf didn’t do all the talking.

At one point, port commissioner Caddy McKeown spoke up, seeming confused with the port’s involvement in all this.

“What role do we actually play here, Jeff?” she asked of the port’s Executive Director Jeff Bishop.

“I don’t know that you have a role to play. It’s a FERC process just like the LNG process,” Bishop said.

The port has no special standing, but it does have infrastructure of special interest to OPT. And that’s the ocean outfall pipe. It formerly piped treated wastewater from Weyerhaeuser Co.’s long-gone containerboard mill out to sea.

OPT wants to run its cables from the buoys through the pipe and onto the spit. That way the company wouldn’t have to trench through the surf and sand at a cost of $1 million per mile.

That wish had a note-scribbling Bishop seeming concerned at first. Kopf assured him the cable would take up only 5 to 6 inches of a 36-inch-diameter pipe. It wouldn’t rot in salt water.

Bishop’s interest was piqued.

Kopf suggested the power would go to California, but Bishop went fishing. He wanted to know if OPT would use a North Spit power substation. He wanted to know if the power quality would be consistent. He wanted to know if power generated during peak wave action could be stored and dispatched for constant flow.

Bishop’s quizzing linked back to comments he made in the meeting’s first minutes. During his monthly report, he updated commissioners on fizzling and sizzling ideas. The railroad closure caused two companies considering biodiesel projects to look elsewhere. But the port is seeking a state grant to work on developing a wind turbine development on the windy spit. And more, the port staff has dreams of enticing a polysilicon manufacturer to the old Weyerhaeuser mill site to build photovoltaic cells for the solar power industry.

“We recognize there’s a huge potential market for photovoltaic cells,” Bishop had said.

And those kinds of plants need monster amounts of power. – Coos Bay World

It's official: Lower catch quotas for halibut

The International Pacific Halibut Commission wrapped up its annual meeting and set this year’s catch limits and season dates.

 The overall limit is 60.4 million pounds, about 7 percent lower than last year. That’s less severe than the 9 percent cut staff scientists had recommended.

 The chief beneficiary is British Columbia (Area 2B), where commissioners set a limit of 9 million pounds, nearly 1 million more than the staff advised.

 For Southeast Alaska (Area 2C), commissioners went with the recommended 6.2 million pounds, a 27 percent cut.

 Southcentral Alaska (Area 3A) takes a nearly 8 percent cut to 24.2 million pounds.

The season will open at noon March 8 and close at noon Nov. 15.

 For a full rundown of catch limits from the West Coast through the Aleutians, call the commission in Seattle at (206) 634-1838 and listen to the recorded meeting summary. – Pacific Fishing columnist Wesley Loy writing as The Highliner for the Anchorage Daily News

Alitak Bay trawling allowed to continue

Board of Fisheries member Bonnie Williams said it would devastate Kodiak’s small trawl fleet if Proposals 38-40 were adopted.

 The rest of the board felt the same and unanimously rejected proposals that would close Alitak Bay to trawlers or require them to have 100 percent observer data.

 “Real good feeling,” said Al Burch, executive director of Alaska Draggers Association and owner of the fishing vessels Dusk and Dawn. “(I’m) very appreciative of the questions the board members asked. It showed that they were paying attention to facts and figures.”

 Kurt Waters also was relieved the proposals failed.

 “I think they looked at all the different information from all the different groups and made an intelligent decision,” he said.

 The series of proposals were submitted by local fishermen Alexus Kwachka and Peter Hannah out of concern for the crab, salmon and herring stocks in the bay.

At issue is whether pelagic trawl gear is harming the last known remaining king crab location in Kodiak waters.

 Additionally, there was concern that salmon and herring were being affected.

 “As you can imagine, this brought a lot of discussion,” board member John Jenson said. “One of the biggest discussions was these trawls getting on the bottom and they thoroughly convinced me that (the nets) are not intentionally put on the bottom.”

 He said that putting a net on the bottom would destroy the trawl net and blow their profit margin out of the water.

 “It’s just incredibly expensive to drop your $90,000 net on the bottom, tear it up and have to spend $20,000 in repairs,” Jenson said.

 He concluded that he’s sure that it happens occasionally, but not on purpose.

Williams agreed.

 “Whatever has been taking the crab around Kodiak, it’s not the trawl guys, not out of this bay,” she said.

 Board member Howard Delo was convinced to oppose proposals 38 and 39 after seeing a three dimensional presentation of the bottom contours of Alitak Bay.

 “I can’t see why these guys would intentionally go anywhere near the bottom,” he said.

The defeat of the proposals wasn’t unexpected.

 Many felt from the discussions that the proposals would be defeated, but hoped that the proposal to raise observer coverage from 30 percent to 100 percent would be adopted. It was not.

 “This 30 percent coverage, in my opinion, and apparently in all the scientific community, is that it’s very good coverage,” Jenson said. “On the East Coast, they think 1 percent is adequate. I don’t think there are enough observers in the United States to cover this and other fisheries in Alaska.”  -- Kodiak Daily Mirror

B.C. Natives ask that salmon farm pen be moved

The Ahousaht First Nation will ask one of B.C.’s largest aquaculture companies to relocate a Clayoquot Sound fish-farm raising Atlantic salmon.

The Central Region Board heard that the Ahousaht First Nation will not support Mainstream Canada’s application to renew a fish-farm tenure at Dixon Bay.

Angus Campbell, a board member from Ahousaht, delivered the news, just as his colleagues learned wild-salmon returns in Clayoquot Sound are at “alarming levels,” and a program set up to monitor sea lice has yet to interpret four years of raw data.

Campbell said his band is concerned with the low wild-salmon returns in the Megin River, and it wants the Mainstream farm moved elsewhere so it can determine cause.

“There is something wrong in the Megin,” he said. “The salmon count is down compared to past years. We support salmon farms but in this area we’d like to see what the difference may be.”

Dixon Bay is located off Shelter Inlet, north of Flores Island, on the way to the Megin River.

In 2007, only 13 chinook returned to the Megin, 43 to the Bedwell/Urses, 112 to the Moyeha and 226 to the Tranquil, according to documents provided to the board.

Meantime, 653 and 7,535 chinook returned to the San Juan and Nitnat Rivers, respectively.

In a report to the board, Peter Ayres, the CRB’s secretariat, called the returns “alarming.”
The board also received an email from Josie Osborne, a registered professional biologist, stating data collected by the Clayoquot Sound Sea Lice Monitoring Program between 2003 and 2007 must still be analyzed.

The program is run by Nuu-chah-nulth fisheries, the Tla-o-qui-aht and Ahousaht First Nations, as well as Creative Salmon and Mainstream Canada.

Osborne, however, indicated sea lice infestations may be related to salinity.

“There is virtually no sea lice infestation near most of the Creative Salmon farms because the surface water is of very low salinity, and in fact the infection rates are so low that the Tofino Inlet has pretty much been dropped from the program,” she wrote. – Westcoaster, Tofino


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Tumultuous Dungeness crab season winds down

A tumultuous crab fishing season is winding down at Bodega Bay, with a mediocre catch somewhat offset by higher prices paid to fishermen at the dock.

 “It’s still worth going out,” Chuck Wise, a Bodega Bay fisherman, said.

Like most local fishermen, Wise was on shore, giving his submerged crab pots a chance to collect Dungeness crab.

That soaking time is now up to about four days, he said. In the busy first month of the season, crabbers haul up and empty their pots every day.

No statistics were immediately available, but Wise said it had been a mediocre crab season, a bit better than expectations but below the harvests earlier in the decade.

But the current price at the dock, $3 a pound in Bodega Bay, props up the fishing industry, said Tony DeLima, who oversees fish processing at The Tides in Bodega Bay.

At the peak of the season, the price hit $3.75 a pound. Last year’s price at Bodega Bay was $1.85 a pound.

Crab fishermen from Bodega Bay to Half Moon Bay delayed their season two weeks after November’s cargo ship oil spill that flowed out of San Francisco Bay.

The Central Coast commercial crab season runs through June, but Wise said the catch is diminished by February or March. – Santa Rosa Press Democrat

Exxon violated "social contract"

WASHINGTON -- Exxon violated the social compact it had entered into with the state of Alaska when the company's tanker spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil in Prince William Sound in 1989, the state Legislature and four former governors said in a new brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court.

 As a result, the company should be subject to punitive damages for the environmental catastrophe, state lawmakers argued in their friend-of-the-court brief. The court will hear oral arguments in the company's appeal on Feb. 27.

 "Punitive damages are appropriate here because Exxon acted recklessly and violated its solemn vow to the people of Alaska to protect Alaska's marine ecology and marine-based economy," according to the brief.

 State lawmakers, who authorized filing the brief in a recent meeting of the Legislative Council, cite the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Authorization Act of 1973. The federal law expanded the liability of oil companies in the event of a spill, according to the brief, but it was the price businesses paid for permission to construct and operate the pipeline.

 Exxon has been appealing the case since an Anchorage jury in 1994 returned a $5 billion punitive damages award against the company, one of the largest verdicts ever against a U.S. corporation. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco cut the award to $2.5 billion in 2006; Exxon appealed that decision to the Supreme Court.

 Lawmakers decided that court hearing was their final chance to speak for the fishermen, Alaska Natives and other residents who lost their livelihoods because of the economic effects of the oil spill, state Rep. John Coghill, R-North Pole, said. They thought that the former governors would add historical heft to their brief.

 "To me, it was a way of saying that we the people feel that the social contract was that important," Coghill said. "There are windows of opportunity, and this was one of the few opportunities we could use to make a case for so many Alaskans we represent. The Legislature felt that for the people of Alaska, it was time to speak up." – Anchorage Daily News

Small environmental investment may pay larger dividends

 The preservation of coastal ecosystem services such as clean water, storm buffers or fisheries protection does not have to be an all-or-nothing approach, a new study indicates, and a better understanding of how ecosystems actually respond to protection efforts in a “nonlinear” fashion could help lead the way out of environmental-versus-economic gridlock.

 There may be much better ways to provide the majority of environmental protection needed while still maintaining natural resource-based jobs and sustainable communities, scientists from 13 universities and research institutes will suggest Friday in a new article in the journal Science.

 “The very concept of ecosystem-based management implies that humans are part of the equation, and their needs also have to be considered,” said Lori Cramer, an associate professor of sociology at Oregon State University.

“But ecosystem concerns have too often been viewed as an all-or-none choice, and it doesn’t have to be that way,” Cramer said. “What we are learning is that sometimes a little environmental protection can go a long way, and leave room for practical compromises.”

In their analysis, a diverse group of scientists from four nations analyzed the values and uses of mangrove forests in Thailand – a hot spot of concern about coastal ecosystems being degraded and losing their traditional value of storm protection, wood production and fish habitat. These saltwater forests are frequently being replaced with commercial shrimp farms.

In the past, the scientists said, it was often assumed that the environment responded to protection efforts in a “linear” fashion – in other words, protecting twice as much of a resource generated twice the amount of protection. But the new study, and others like it, are making it more clear that ecosystems respond in a “nonlinear” fashion – protection of a small percentage of a resource might result in a large percentage of the maximum benefit that can be gained.

If the data are available to help quantify goods and services, researchers say, values can be attached to them and used to reach societal compromises. This might lead to most – but not all – of an environmental resource being protected, and some – but not all – of resources available for commercial use. The combined value of the ecosystem protection and commercial development may approach, or even exceed the value of a “hands-off” approach.

“Part of the problem now is that a lot of the data we need to make this type of assessment simply isn’t available,” said Sally Hacker, an OSU associate professor of zoology. “Biological, economic and sociological data could be enormously helpful to help us reach better management decisions, and this is something we need to improve.”

Fairly good data were available in the case of the Thailand mangrove forests, however, and researchers used it to make their case. On a given area of mangrove forest there, the assigned value of ecosystem services – storm protection, biological habitat, etc. – was determined to be about $19 million with a “hands-off” approach and no commercial use whatsoever.

But with a full range of uses, which included leaving 80 percent of the area in mangrove forests and gaining almost all of their flood protection ability, the value was found to be $17.5 million, Hacker said. And this allowed for a commercial shrimp fishery, gathering of wood products, fishing and other commercial uses.

“At some point we have to get beyond this ‘either-or’ mentality when it comes to land and ocean management,” Cramer said. “Insisting that our ecosystems be either totally protected, or totally developed, just leads to polarization, entrenched positions and a loss of communication. We can do better than that, and a good scientific approach can help show the way.”

In the final analysis, the researchers said, everything should be on the table – the value of ecosystem services, the protection of species and the environment, jobs, tourism, protection of human life, even cultural and community values.

“Shrimp farming may be a person’s livelihood, and that cannot be ignored,” Cramer said. “At the same time these mangrove forests help protect human lives and healthy ecosystems, and you can’t ignore that either. The good news is that when we understand the nonlinear nature of ecosystem response, some of these compromises become possible.”

The concepts being developed, the researchers said, are directly relevant to the current debate over marine reserves in Oregon. The challenge there will be to balance an adequate amount of biological protection, and a careful analysis of the areas to be protected, with the needs and concerns of coastal communities, they said.

In like fashion, they said, such approaches may be relevant to many other societal debates – whether it’s health care or the preservation of protective marshes around New Orleans – in which values can be assigned to various services and compromises reached. –  innovations report, Germany

Global warming benefits North Sea species

There are more species of fish in the North Sea as a result of rising water temperatures, but the changes are unlikely to please fishermen overall, scientists have said.

 The reason is that while the number of bottom-dwelling fish species has increased by half since 1985, in response to a temperature increase of almost 1.5 °C, most of the new additions are of little commercial value.

 Some of the new species, such as anchovies and red mullet, are a welcome addition to trawler catches but this will not compensate for the large valuable species such as wolffish, spurdog and ling which are moving to the north, according to the study published in the journal Global Change Biology.

 The authors, Jan Hiddink of Bangor University in Wales and Remment ter Hofstede of Wageningen IMARES in the Netherlands, say similar changes are probably under way in other northern waters.

 'This research will help us understand and predict what the effect of climate change on biodiversity will be.

 "Fishery managers will have to adapt their practices to a fishery with many small species rather than a few large species', according to Dr Hiddink from Bangor university.

 Increases in fish species richness depend on easy migration of fish species from the south, and higher species numbers to the south. According to EU scientists, though, the Bay of Biscay anchovy has been significantly overfished. – The Telegraph, U.K.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tanner crab scarce in spots in Kodiak

KODIAK -- Already one of the two sections of the Kodiak District Tanner crab fishery that opened last week has closed.

 “There just isn’t much crab,” said Dave Woodruff, owner of Alaska Fresh processing. “These guys are scratching for everything they get.”

 Woodruff’s company processes raw crab and sells to companies in Japan. Alaska Fresh processes only a few boats’ crab, at a price of $1.85 to $2 per pound, Woodruff said.

 Of two sections open for the Tanner crab fishery this year, the Eastside District had a maximum harvest of 400,000 pounds, while the Northeast District had a maximum of 100,000 pounds.

 Area shellfish management biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Division of Commercial Fisheries, Nicholas Sagalkin, said only 32 boats fished for Tanner crab this year, down from 50 boats last year.

 All but a handful of the boats fished the Eastside District, quickly meeting the 400,000 pound guideline, Sagalkin said. That section is now closed, though the Northeast District remains open.

 Tanner crab guidelines are lower than in previous years, based on the population of mature male crabs.

 “The intent is to maintain the majority of the population to continue reproducing,” Sagalkin said. “Our populations have been declining.”

 Sagalkin said it takes five to seven years for a crab to grow to legal size.

 The Eastside and Northeast districts were the only two districts open last year.

 Sagalkin said Tanner crab is a good product, sold mostly to Japan, though some processors are exploring domestic markets. – Kodiak Daily Mirror

B.C. to discuss decline of Vancouver Island Chinook

A Department of Fisheries and Oceans biologist plans to hold a workshop in March so scientists and stakeholders can determine why Chinook salmon stocks have dropped to such alarming levels in Clayoquot Sound.

Dianna Dobson, a DFO fisheries biologist for the West Coast of Vancouver Island, said the workshop could take place in Port Alberni and include scientists who’ll develop a research plan and industry representatives who’ll work on collaborative management.

“Something’s going on with Clayoquot,” she said. “The bottom line is I don’t really know.”

In 2007, only 13 Chinook returned to the Megin, 43 to the Bedwell/Urses, 112 to the Moyeha and 226 to the Tranquil.

Those numbers were provided to the Clayoquot Sound Central Region Board. Meantime, 653 and 7,535 chinook returned to the San Juan and Nitnat Rivers, respectively.

Dobson said she could think of at least six different factors leading to poor Chinook returns, including the impact of commercial and sports fisheries, natural predation, natural ocean productivity that creates food for fish, and salmon farming.

“The habitat is pretty pristine, so it doesn’t appear to be habitat.”

She said the problem is serious, especially in rivers where less than 50 fish have returned.
“We need to do something about it. If there’s less than 50 adults, you’re getting into some genetic issues.”

Dobson said no date has been set for the conference. – Westcoaster

NMFS against Columbia liquefied natural gas - for now

PORTLAND — The National Marine Fisheries Service wants the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to at least temporarily deny a permit to dredge the Columbia River to build a liquefied natural gas import terminal below St. Helens.

In a letter last month, the fisheries service said the terminal likely would harm valuable salmon habitat.

Northern Star Natural Gas Inc. wants to build the terminal, one of three under active consideration in Oregon, at Bradwood Landing. The other two in planning stages are near Astoria and Coos Bay.

The fisheries service asked that permission be withheld until it has more information.

A NorthernStar spokesman characterized the letter as routine, and said NMFS’s skepticism is typical.

“There’s nothing that we see unusual here,” said Joe Desmond, NorthernStar’s senior vice president of external affairs. “Until they have all the information, they’re not in a position to say yes.”

Building and operating the terminal, as well as dredging to make way for tankers, likely would affect vital estuary habitat, the NMFS said.

The agency noted that the Columbia River estuary has been referred to as “the most valuable spawning and nursery area for salmon in the continental United States.”

It said the “survival and recovery” of salmon and steelhead protected under the Endangered Species Act depends on the health of the Columbia.

NorthernStar plans to pull 700,000 cubic yards of material from 46 acres of riverbottom, deepening the riverbed by more than 9 feet.

The company has proposed its own salmon recovery plan, which would contribute $50 million over 35 years to habitat recovery.

The NMFS said it wants a guarantee that the recovery efforts will proceed if NorthernStar falls on hard times and suggested a bond be posted “to ensure habitat impacts are fully restored or mitigated in the event of bankruptcy or abandonment.”

CalPine, which initially planned to build a terminal at the mouth of the Columbia River, declared bankruptcy, but former CalPine executives and others are reviving efforts to build the facility.

The NorthernStar project is the farthest along in Oregon in the federal approval process. –The Oregonian

B.C. government fish farm biologists skip ethics group

The British Columbia provincial government has required many of its biologists to register as members of the College of Applied Biology, but not the ones in the Agriculture and Lands Ministry who work on aquaculture and oversee the province's contentious salmon farming industry.

 The college monitors members for scientific rigour and reasoned conduct. Some critics of B.C.'s aquaculture policies wonder why most government biologists focused on fish farming aren't subject to the college's scrutiny. Broughton Archipelago salmon researcher Alexandra Morton would go further, suggesting all biologists swear a professional oath to protect "crucial life systems."

 A November 2006 organization chart for the Aquaculture Development Branch identifies eight staff members as biologists. They are Bill Heath, Clint Collins, Scott Pilcher, Gary Caine, Terry Nielsen, Shelee Hamilton, Marco Peemoeller and Sean Cheesman. All except for Collins are still listed with the branch in the government's telephone directory.

But none of their names appear in the membership list for the College of Applied Biologists.

 "It was news to me that they weren't [members]," says George Butcher, a chair of a B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union local and a member of the union's environment committee. "It's surprising because there's been a move all across government to get all its biologists registered so the government can be sure they're following a code of ethics."

 The B.C. Liberal government passed the legislation setting up the college in 2002. When introducing the bill for second reading, the Hansard says, then forestry minister Mike de Jong said the college was "charged with upholding and protecting the public interest."

 The college would ensure "the integrity, objectivity and expertise of its members," and would uphold "the highest principles of stewardship."

 The college, according to its website, sets conduct and performance standards, holds members accountable and ensures competence. It has the power to conduct investigations and discipline members.

 A senior biologist in the Aquaculture Development Branch, Gary Caine, says whether or not to become a member of the college is up to individuals. "There's no mandatory requirement to do so," he says. "It's voluntary and there's no requirement in our ministry."

 Caine was a founder of the Association of Professional Biologists of B.C., which existed before the college, but says he let his membership drop in 1998 and hasn't paid attention to the organization since.

 While membership isn't mandatory for biologists in the Agriculture Ministry, the Environment Ministry, where Butcher works, went through an extensive process in 2005 and 2006 that looked at the job descriptions for some 450 people. Its December 2006 report found nearly 250 people in the ministry should register with the college.

 The Ministry of Agriculture and Lands, which includes people focused on fish and shellfish farms, should go through a similar process, Butcher says. "It surprised me that didn't occur in the Ministry of Agriculture."

 A spokesperson for the ministry took questions, but did not provide any answers by deadline.

 Linda Michaluk is the executive director of both the College of Applied Biologists and the Association of Professional Biologists. Speaking on behalf of the association, she says that anytime a person's work includes applied biology, "We'd encourage membership in the college."

 Michaluk was a member of the panel that assessed jobs in the Environment Ministry, but says she is not familiar enough with what the aquaculture staff do to offer an opinion on whether or not they should be members.

 Researcher Alexandra Morton, director of the Salmon Coast Field Station in the Broughton Archipelago, is a member of the college. "For people who don't have a PhD, it's the next level of certification that you know what you're talking about," she says. "It really does monitor behaviour. I know they're monitoring mine all the time."

 The college requires members to act in a professional way, she says. That means being polite, basing what you say on demonstrable facts and trying to keep emotion out of the discussion. For someone who is passionate about what they are doing, that can be hard.

 "In the heat of the moment a person can forget," she says. "You have to be careful you don't get carried away."

 "The qualifications are irrelevant if the quality of the work is good," says University of Victoria ecologist and salmon researcher John Volpe. Volpe is not a member of the college, but does have a PhD. "We all know the world is full of people with impressive qualifications on paper who choose not to pursue the best information."

 The government's approach to salmon farming has long ignored the best science, he says. "The whole aquaculture issue is not one of science," he says. "It will be played out in the grocery aisles. As long as consumers demand fresh salmon year round at three bucks a pound, we're done for on the coast. To provide that product under those constraints requires the death of wild salmon."

 There is consensus among scientists that salmon farming is a threat to wild salmon and the marine ecosystem, he says, but you'd never know it from how the industry is governed. "That consensus voice stands in clear contrast to the voice we hear coming from politicians and bureaucrats." – The Tyee, Canada


Friday, January 25, 2008

The avoiding-salmon season opens again

The season for Bering Sea walleye pollock, Alaska’s largest commercial fishery by weight, opened this past Sunday.

 Trawlers towing enormous nets will scoop up tons of pollock to be processed into goods such as fish sticks and surimi. And don’t forget the roe, a big component in a harvest worth upwards of $1 billion.

 For many industry players, however, this is a crucial season for avoiding fish – specifically, Chinook salmon.

 As you know, we’ve spotlighted the high accidental catch of Chinook by trawlers targeting pollock. Western Alaska villagers and others are upset. Really upset.

 Now comes national environmental groups such as Oceana, which issued the following press release and has plenty of lawyers.

 Read it and ask: Are we about to see a lawsuit against the government to protect salmon? – Pacific Fishing columnist Wesley Loy writing as The Highliner for the Anchorage Daily News


Concerns sparked by exploding numbers of salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands pollock fishery

JUNEAU – The marine conservation group Oceana today called on the National Marine Fisheries Service to count, cap and control the increasing and alarming number of salmon being caught and killed as bycatch in groundfish fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI).

 More than 130,000 Chinook (king) salmon were hauled up as bycatch during the 2007 BSAI groundfish season, which was more than double the 1997-2006 ten-year average of 49,562 fish, and 40,000 more salmon than were caught in the same fisheries in 2006. More than 90% of this bycatch was caught by pollock trawlers, and the 2008 BSAI pollock fishery opens this Sunday.

 Wild salmon are the lifeblood of Alaska’s commercial, sport, and subsistence fisheries. According to the Alaska Department of Labor, salmon generate more jobs than any other fishery in Alaska and accounted for 49% of fishing employment by species in 2004. In some rural communities, particularly in Western Alaska, summer salmon harvests are often the only available source of income. In addition, salmon caught as bycatch in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands include endangered stocks from the lower 48 that are the subject of long-standing legal disputes in Oregon and throughout the Pacific Northwest.

 “We’re burning the salmon at both ends—damming spawning streams in Oregon and scooping up enormous numbers of salmon in pollock trawls in Alaska,” said Michael LeVine, Pacific Counsel and Senior Advisor for Oceana. “The National Marine Fisheries Service must take immediate and significant actions to count, cap, and control salmon bycatch. These salmon are a critically important economic, subsistence and recreational resource, and NMFS must manage them for everyone’s benefit, not just on behalf of a few industrial fishing companies.”

 Salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands has been steadily rising. In 1999 and 2000 the National Marine Fisheries Service issued an “incidental take statement” to address endangered species issues. The statement authorized a total of 55,000 Chinook to be taken as bycatch, based on assumptions of what percentage of those would come from endangered stocks. That number was surpassed in 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006 as the amount of bycatch steadily rose to 55,594, 63,138, 74,975, and 87,771 Chinook salmon, respectively.

 In response the permit allowance was raised to 87,500 Chinook for 2007, but the actual number of more than 130,000 salmon caught last year exceeded this new limit by more than 40,000. To put this 130,000 salmon in another perspective, the number of salmon intentionally caught in the entire commercial salmon fishery of Chinook salmon in Alaska last year was around 560,000.

 High volume groundfish fisheries like pollock are dominated by a few companies. The majority of fishermen employed by those companies are not Alaska residents: in 2002, 196 non-resident trawl fishermen landed 91% of the 2.7 billion pounds taken in the trawl fishery, earning $220 million. That same year, 4,852 Alaskan salmon fishermen shared $85.2 million.

 The same vessels catching Chinook salmon as bycatch also catch a substantial number of chum salmon each year, with chum bycatch peaking at more than 700,000 fish in 2005.

 “Salmon are Alaska’s iconic fish,” said Jon Warrenchuk, Ocean Scientist for Oceana. “We’ve invested heavily in protecting salmon habitat and sustainably managing commercial, sport, and subsistence salmon fisheries. It’s unbelievable that the pollock fishery has a no-ceiling limit on the number of salmon they can kill.”

 International Concerns

Along with concerns over the impacts to Alaskan and lower 48 communities, the bycatch of salmon in the BSAI pollock fishery means that fewer fish are entering the Yukon River to spawn.

 The Yukon River is a major Chinook salmon spawning river, and Yukon River Chinook undergo one of the longest salmon migrations in the world, with some traveling over 1,800 miles into the interior of the Yukon and Northern British Columbia. These salmon are vitally important to the long-term health, viability, and biodiversity of our oceans, estuaries, rivers, and watersheds. Salmon affect the ecology of a large and diverse group of species across a wide range of ecosystems because they transport energy and nutrients between the ocean, estuary, and freshwater environments.

 Yukon River salmon also support significant subsistence and commercial fisheries both in Canada and the United States. Yukon River Chinook salmon are so important to those two countries that they have entered into the Pacific Salmon Treaty and the Yukon River Salmon Agreement, which are designed specifically to protect the salmon and maintain the fisheries.

 The Pacific Salmon Treaty governs the conservation and management of Pacific salmon stocks that move between Canada and the United States. The main principles of the treaty require the United States to prevent overfishing of salmon stocks and provide equity in fishing between the two countries.

 Due in part to salmon bycatch in the BSAI fishery, however, only an estimated 24,585 Chinook made it to the Canadian border in 2007. This is far below the border passage escapement goals of the Pacific Salmon Treaty and resulted in no commercial fishery, no sport fishery, and limited subsistence harvest from the Canadian side of the Yukon River. Oceana also sent a letter to the U.S. State Department expressing concerns over potential violation of this treaty.

 Oceana campaigns to protect and restore the world’s oceans. Our teams of marine scientists, economists, lawyers and advocates win specific and concrete policy changes to reduce pollution and to prevent the irreversible collapse of fish populations, marine mammals and other sea life. Global in scope and dedicated to conservation, Oceana has campaigners based in North America (Washington, DC; Juneau, AK; Anchorage, AK; Portland, OR; Monterey, CA), Europe (Madrid, Spain; Brussels, Belgium) and South America (Santiago, Chile). More than 300,000 members and e-activists in over 150 countries have already joined Oceana.

Kodiak wants to license you to fight terrorism

Terrorists making their way to Kodiak to scope out our ports and harbors will have another obstacle to thwart their evil-doing ways.

 Deputy Harbormaster Lon White, addressing the Port and Harbor Advisory Board, requested members pass the word that this summer the Department of Homeland Security Transportation Worker Identification Card program will commence.

 “Anybody that has a captain’s license is going to be required to have a TWIC card,” White said. “I think a lot of captains don’t know that. All of the harbor staff is going to have to have one because we deal with port security. So if you know anybody that has a license, ask them if they know about TWIC.”

 White said that anyone who needs a card would have to travel to Anchorage to buy one, but as of yet issuing officials have not started providing the cards in Alaska.

 “You cannot get it in Kodiak,” White said. “They’ll end up in Alaska this summer and they’re still deciding where they’re going to have these centers, where you can get them.”

 He said officials are talking about establishing centers in Juneau, Valdez and Anchorage. White did say that he is trying to put pressure on TWIC officials to send out mobile issue centers to the more remote locations.

 Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced the creation of the TWIC program in April 2006 after Congress established it through the Maritime Transportation Security Act as an added security measure at U.S. ports.

 “It is fundamental that individuals who pose a security threat do not gain access to our nation’s ports,” Chertoff said. “The name-based checks will provide an immediate security boost while we simultaneously complete the work to implement a secure national transportation worker credential.”

 Lockheed Martin was awarded the $70 million contract to establish the card system and create issuing centers.

 In October 2007, workers at the port of Wilmington, Del., became the first to get the new card. To qualify for a card, each applicant undergoes an extensive background check that looks at criminal history, terrorist watch lists, immigration status and any outstanding warrants.

 The ID will be a smart card with a photograph, serial number, and expiration date and will be embedded with an integrated circuit chip that stores the individual’s fingerprints, personal identification number and a unique cardholder identifier. The cost of the card is $132.50 and it is valid for five years.

 According to the DHS Web site, “Workers with current, comparable background checks, including a hazardous materials endorsement on a commercial driver’s license, merchant mariner’s document or Free and Secure Trade (FAST) credential, will pay a discounted fee of $105.25.”

“We did ask to be exempt from it, but it doesn’t look like that is going to happen,” Harbormaster Marty Owen said.

 For more information on the system or to pre-register, visit -- Kodiak Daily Mirror

Learning to fish - and to stay fishing

Managing a commercial fishing business, understanding seafood markets, knowing how to navigate the regulatory system '96 those are other important parts of being successful in commercial fishing, the business that fuels Alaska’s coastal economies.

 These were just a few of many topics covered last month at the second Alaska Young Fishermen’s Summit held in Anchorage.

 A brainchild of the Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program, the summit is designed to help develop business, policy, safety and marketing know-how among the next generation of Alaska seafood harvesters.

 Attended by more than 65 fishermen from throughout Alaska, participants gathered for three days of presentations, small group discussions and networking opportunities with industry experts, established fishermen and regulators.

 Prince William Sound fishermen sponsored by Cordova District Fishermen United included Cordova attendees Mike Babic, Matt Babic, Eric Lian and Homer resident Kiril Matveev.

 "This was an amazing gathering," Lian said. "I already know a lot about the politics of fishing, but I learned a lot about making better business decisions. It was neat to meet so many other fishermen from all over the state."

 "Lots of information and great speakers makes this a jammed-full event," Mike Babic said. "I’d like to thank CDFU for the opportunity to attend."

 According to Torie Baker of Alaska Sea Grant and a member of the steering committee, the event attracted wide support.

 "We were excited by the great turnout. Fishermen from 26 coastal communities came representing gear types including longline, jig, and net fisheries. A wide range of industry groups helped with materials and participant scholarships as well as speakers," Baker said.

 Gov. Sarah Palin’s husband, Bristol Bay setnetter Todd Palin, addressed the group about the importance of fishing to the state of Alaska. The governor’s fisheries advisor Cora Crome encouraged fishermen "to study the issues and join your local organization. If you can’t be there, make sure you’re paying your dues so others can."

 Other keynote speakers included Robin Samuelson, lifelong Bristol Bay fisherman and chief executive officer of Ocean Beauty Seafoods; Arne Fuglvog, a Petersburg fishermen and aide to Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; and current United Fishermen of Alaska Vice President Deborah Lyons.

 Each told participants stories and offered tips and a look at the future as they see it.

 "While I wear a suit to work everyday now, I am a commercial fisherman," Fuglvog told the audience. "Most of the world will never know what it’s like to be a fisherman. So, be proud of who you are and represent your industry. It’s your future, and it’s a good one." – Cordova Times

Meeting to discuss oil gas leases in Bering Sea

Fishermen, community leaders, Alaska Natives, scientists, government officials, environmental groups, and representatives from energy companies will meet in Anchorage to discuss what's needed to safely develop oil and gas in the North Aleutian Basin, a sprawling region that includes part of the salmon-rich Bristol Bay.

 The North Aleutians Basin Energy-Fisheries workshop, scheduled for March 18-19 at the Anchorage Marriot Downtown Hotel, is aimed at continuing a dialogue that began last October, when key stakeholders outlined their positions on development and organized the agenda for the March 2008 meeting.

The meeting seeks insights into the economic, social, and environmental questions that must be addressed to make energy development environmentally safe as well as socially and economically beneficial for the region's residents. It also offers a chance for energy and fisheries industries to learn about each other's operations.

The Alaska Sea Grant College Program, a marine research, information, and advisory program headquartered at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, is coordinating the meetings. Funding for the meeting comes from grants from Shell, Aleutians East Borough, the Bristol Bay Economic Development Corporation, Peter Pan Seafoods, and others.

Last year, the U.S. Minerals Management Service announced plans to sell oil and gas exploration leases in a part of the North Aleutian Basin beginning in 2011. That announcement came as welcome news to some in the region, such as Stanley Mack, mayor of the Aleutians East Borough.

"We have seen a lot of outmigration because of the lack of jobs," said Mack. "I see my role as providing jobs and economic stability, making sure our communities survive and that our schools stay open."

At stake is the potential revenue energy development might bring to the region. If developed, North Aleutian Basin oil and gas could be worth $3 to $6 billion per year for the next 25 to 40 years, according to the U.S. Minerals Management Service. MMS estimates that region contains 8.6 trillion cubic feet of gas and 750 million barrels of oil or condensate. Shell, one of the world's largest oil and gas companies, expressed interest in developing the energy deposits believed to exist beneath the seafloor.

But of concern to Mack and many others is the impact on the region's abundant salmon, crab, halibut, pollock and cod fisheries, worth more than $2 billion each year. Possible impacts include oil spills and navigation hazards, as well as competition for limited dock space and loss of jobs as deckhands and others take higher-paying energy jobs.

"We are guarded about fisheries," said Justine Gundersen, administrator for the Nelson Lagoon Tribal Council. "Fishing is a way of life in our area. But we are open-we will not fight oil development. Fishing is not as prosperous as before. We want diversification. These meetings are so important for learning. We want to protect everything we have, and so we must be at the table."

Also of concern are issues such as harbors, roads, and other infrastructure, and the social impacts of population growth and cash that would flow into the region.

In offshore oil and gas proposals elsewhere in Alaska, forces pro and con have lined up to voice their views, and opposition has led to litigation. In the case of the North Aleutian Basin, meeting organizer and Alaska Sea Grant director Brian Allee said the goal of the North Aleutian Basin meetings is to find common ground and build cordial, working relationships.

  Following the Anchorage gathering, Alaska Sea Grant is planning a meeting in Kodiak to explain the lease sale and gather input from local residents. That meeting is scheduled for March 21 from 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Kodiak High School, in conjunction with the Kodiak ComFish trade show. The meeting will include a panel of Kodiak residents discussing the North Aleutian Basin lease sale impacts on Kodiak, and speakers explaining development issues in the region. –  NOAA Alaska Sea Grant College Program