Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Alaska’s Stand for Salmon Ballot Measure Fails

With 88 percent of ballots counted in Alaska’s general election, a ballot initiative that aimed to better protect fish habitat in Alaska was headed toward defeat. The vote in this divisive campaign, with millions of dollars spent in television, newspaper and sign board advertising, was 141,918 opposed and 80,861 favoring the Stand for Salmon initiative.

“Our diverse, statewide coalition was a major factor in the outcome of this campaign,” said Kasti Capozzi, campaign manager for Stand for Alaska. Capozzi said the coalition included Alaska businesses, Alaska Native corporations, labor unions, trade groups and thousands of Alaskans.

According to Stand for Alaska, the vote “sends a clear message that Alaskans are not in favor of outside interests’ attempts to regulate our land and resources.” The biggest contributors to defeat the ballot measure were oil and gas and mining companies, many of whose headquarters are in the Lower 48 states and Canada.

Backers of the ballot initiative said that while they didn’t garner enough votes to win that they were cheered by Alaskans across political and geographic boundaries who united in support of stronger salmon habitat protections through the ballot initiative.

“We are in the midst of a new era where Alaskans are ready to see stronger salmon protections and more responsible development in our state,” said Gayla Hoseth, an initiative sponsor.

“Through our conversations throughout this campaign, it’s been clear to us that all Alaskans are connected to salmon and want to do more to protect the last wild salmon runs in the country,” said Stephanie Quinn-Davidson, a ballot initiative sponsor and director of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal fish commission.

Foy Named Research Director for AFSC

Bob Foy is taking the helm as the new science and research director for NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center at Auke Bay, Alaska, on Nov. 11. Foy spent the previous 11 years as the director of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) laboratory in Kodiak, Alaska.

In his new role, Foy will oversee the agency’s work monitoring the health and sustainability of fish, marine mammals and their habitats across nearly 1.5 million square miles of water surrounding Alaska. He will oversee research work at the AFSC in Seattle, Washington, and research laboratories in Juneau and Kodiak, Alaska, as well as Newport, Oregon, in addition to field stations in Little Port Walter, St. Paul Island and St. George Island, Alaska.

He will direct scientific research to support and sustain a range of marine resources including commercial fisheries for Alaska Pollock, red king crab and sablefish in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea. He will also oversee agency research in the Aleutians and the Arctic Ocean, home to marine mammals including bowhead and beluga whales, and bearded and ringed seals.

Foy has co-authored more than 60 scientific, technical and stock assessment papers focused on the response of marine species to environmental forces in the sub-Arctic and Arctic regions of Alaska. He has also directed the crab data collection on the annual Eastern Bering Sea bottom trawl survey. This data supports stock assessment for 10 crab stocks valued at roughly $500 million.

Foy has also led multidisciplinary research programs to improve scientific advice to management entities including the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. He recently developed research programs to assess acclimation capacity of marine organisms to changes in the environment. These programs provide accurate predictions on climate change and assess the feasibility of mariculture in the state.

ASMI Sees Boost in Alaska Global Food Aid Program

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute’s (ASMI) global food aid program marketing efforts are paying off with increased domestic and overseas purchases, putting wild Alaska Pollock and salmon on the menu for millions of hungry people.

The introduction of wild Alaska Pollock fillet portions into The Emergency Food Assistance Program, on the heels of wild Alaska Pollock whole-grain breaded fish sticks into the National School Lunch Program last year resulted in millions of dollars in Pollock purchases by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said Bruce Schactler, director of ASMI’s Global Food Aid program.

The food aid market has been and is a reliable and very good customer for the Alaska seafood industry, Schactler noted, in his annual update to ASMI’s All Hands on Deck meeting in Anchorage, Alaska, in late October. The preference for wild Alaska seafood in several domestic feeding programs has made wild Alaska Pollock and canned wild Alaska salmon a steady item on participants’ menus, he explained. “Supporting the balance of supply and demand between the industry’s production and agency needs is one of the elements in our portfolio that never seems to let up,” he told those in attendance.

For fiscal year 2018, purchases of wild Alaska salmon and Pollock by the US Department of Agriculture for government food and nutrition programs totaled over $22 million.

The National School Lunch Program reaches over 13 million children daily. Another eight million families have access to meals offered through The Emergency Food Assistance Program. Some 87,000 individuals participating in food distribution programs on Indian reservations are now receiving traditional wild Alaska salmon fillets.

ASMI’s global food aid representatives have been carrying out a marketing blitz aimed at all USDA food distribution directors in more than 500 state agency contacts,all 344 tribal leaders and also organizing tastings of other species with key USDA decision makers, and the results have been extremely rewarding, Schactler said. Rewards included the recent purchase of 324,000 pounds of four-ounce vacuum packed wild Alaska sockeye salmon fillet portions, valued at about $4 million.

Consumer research conducted by the Alaska global food aid program also identified renewed demand for wild Alaska canned salmon in domestic and international food programs. Canned salmon is frequently included in the Commodity Supplemental Food Program that serves 684,000 elderly people each month and seafood is a must-have in all meal programs, Schactler said.

With more research and development, there is hope that wild Alaska herring can become the newest product of the Alaska global food aid line. That product is particularly well positioned for international food aid programs which need high protein, shelf stable products at the best price possible.

Changes Coming for Alaska Board of Fisheries Meetings

Several changes and additions approved in October will affect the Alaska Board of Fisheries meetings, beginning with the Bristol Bay finfish meeting scheduled for Nov. 28-Dec. 3 in Dillingham, in southwest Alaska.

The fisheries board also changed the date of the Alaska Peninsula, Chignik and Aleutian Islands finfish meeting to Feb. 21-26 and the statewide finfish and supplemental issues meeting to March 9-12. The Jan. 15-19 date for the Arctic/Yukon/Kuskokwim finfish meeting remains unchanged. All but the Bristol Bay finfish meeting are scheduled to take place in Anchorage, as is the March 8 meeting on hatcheries.

The Bristol Bay finfish meeting hosted at the Dillingham Middle School will include a training course on how to navigate the board process. All meeting participants are welcome to attend. The board will also be considering several proposals on harvest management plans related to commercial, sport and subsistence salmon, in addition to a Bristol Bay herring management plan.

The tentative deadline to sign up to testify at the Dillingham meeting is 2 p.m. on Nov. 28, and public testimony will continue until everyone who signed up by the deadline has been heard.

The board will also consider proposal 175 put forward by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game with regards to super-exclusive guided sport ecotourism Dungeness crab fisheries in George Inlet and Nakwasina Sound.

All portions of these meetings are open to the public and a live audio stream is intended to be available on the board’s website site at www.boardoffisheries.adfg.alaska.gov.

Copies of advanced meeting materials, including the agendas and roadmaps, are available from the Boards Support Section by calling 1-907-465-4110 or online at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=fisheriesboard.meetinginfo.

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