Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Acid Mine Draining Into SE Salmon River

A conservation group operating along the Alaska-British Columbia border is citing a recent British Columbia mine inspection report that says acid mine drainage from a mine closed for many years continues to flow into a transboundary river.

The report from British Columbia’s Ministry of Energy and Mines on the mid-October the inspection of the Tulsequah Chief Mine, owned by Chieftain Metals, of Toronto, said acidic discharge was being discharged into the Tulsequah River. The Tulsequah River is a tributary of the Taku River in northern British Columbia, and Rivers Without Borders says these inspections document numerous permit violations, all of which pose threats to salmon in Southeast Alaska’s most productive salmon rivers. Rivers Without Borders is skeptical that cleanup will occur, due to weak enforcement and Chieftain Metals’ poor financial condition.

“The biggest problem is the agencies are again not requiring Chieftain to resume treatment of polluted water unless and until mine development begins,” said Chris Zimmer of Rivers without Borders. “Chieftain is almost bankrupt and hasn’t announced any major investor interest in the mine, so given that mine development is unlikely, we are looking at continued pollution of the Taku watershed.

The latest inspections of the copper, zinc, silver and gold mine, which closed back in 1957, were conducted by the BC Environmental Assessment Office in July and the BC Ministry of the Environment and Ministry of Energy and Mines in October. The inspections documented a number of permit violations.

The BC inspection reports note that the mine, which saw production from 1951 to 1957, has legacy metal leaching/acid mine drainage concerns and no tailings facilities on site.

Southeast Alaska residents are urging a cooperative effort of the state and federal government to obtain guarantees from BC officials that the mine won’t harm water quality, fisheries or livelihoods downstream of the mine in Alaska.

Center for Food Safety Will Sue FDA

The Federal Food and Drug Administration has approved an application from AquaBounty Technologies for genetically modified salmon to be raised in hatchery tanks in Canada and Panama as safe enough to be marketed in America.

The Center for Food Safety in Washington DC quickly announced plans to sue the FDA to block the agency’s approval for sale and consumption of the genetically modified fish. The Center’s executive director, Andrew Kimbrell, said that the FDA “has neglected its responsibility to protect the public.”

The Center contends that the FDA’s review process was inadequate, failed to fully examine the likely impacts of the genetically modified salmon’s introduction and lacked a comprehensive analysis. “CFS will hold FDA to their obligations to the American people,” Kimbrell said.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, a long time opponent of GM salmon, said she plans to push back against the FDA’s decision by advancing her efforts for mandatory labeling. Murkowski said she also intends to block the confirmation of Robert Califf to become the next FDA commissioner, “due to the lack of cooperation and communication from the FDA surrounding their announcement that the agency has approved this salmon.

“I will not stand back and just watch these genetically engineered creatures be placed in our kitchens and on our tables without a fight,” Murkowski said. The Alaska Republican said she would do everything she can to make sure the genetically modified salmon is labeled, “because consumers have a right to know what it is they are eating.”

Murkowski said she would reintroduce an updated version of her current legislation, S.738, to require further research into the risks and impacts of this fish and to address the more urgent need for mandatory labeling requirements.

Judge Quashes Pebble Motion

Federal Judge H. Russel Holland has quashed a motion in which the Pebble Limited Partnership sought to obtain testimony and documents from third party interests in its lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency.

The decision handed down this past week had sought testimony and documents from the Alaska Conservation Foundation and Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association through former employees Sam Snyder and Bob Waldrop respectively. Josh Levy of the Washington DC law firm of Cunningham Levy Muse LLC, who represented Waldrop, the BBRSDA, and others, called Holland’s ruling “a great day for our clients. For months while these subpoenas were hanging in the balance like a cloud over my clients, they were chilled from exercising their rights under the First Amendment to associate freely with other Americans and speak freely about Bristol Bay,” Levy said. “I’m delighted that this cloud has been lifted.”

Mike Heatwole, a spokesman for Pebble in Anchorage, said that the mining entity has been assertive in seeking information to reveal what it contends are the facts about EPA actions against Pebble, and would continue to seek documents supporting its claims.

The Pebble Limited Partnership, a subsidiary of Hunter Dickinson Inc., a diversified global mining group in Vancouver, Canada, has sought the information from Snyder and Waldrop to support their claim that the EPA made a final decision to conduct Section 404 (c) proceedings to preclude Pebble from developing the copper, gold and molybdenum prospect near the headwaters of the Bristol Bay watershed in violation of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.

FACA puts special emphasis on open meetings.

Holland found in his decision that the Alaska Conservation Foundation, BBRSDA and others have the right to communicate with one another on matters of joint interest, and if they wish to make joint presentations to the EPA and that their doing so does not violate FACA. Holland said that such communications would all be discoverable by the plaintiff from the EPA.

USDA Spends $5.3M on Canned Salmon

More than 156,000 cases of canned wild Alaska pink salmon worth $5.3 million have been purchased by the government for use in child nutrition and other related domestic food assistance programs for fiscal year 2016.

The purchase, announced in mid-November by the US Department of Agriculture, included winning bids of 94,240 cases from Trident Seafood’s Cordova Plant, valued at $2.9 million; 60,800 cases from Ocean Beauty Seafoods’ Excursion Inlet, west of Juneau, valued at $2.3 million; and 1,520 cases Peter Pan Seafoods’ Astoria, Oregon plant, valued at $60,967.

The purchases were the result of bids submitted in response to a USDA solicitation in late October. Deliveries are to be made from Feb. 1 through Aug.21, USDA said.

The purchases are part of the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service programs, including the National School Lunch Program the School Breakfast Program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, and Summer Food Service Program and others.

Bruce Schactler of Kodiak, food aid program and development director for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, said those purchases, which were a little above average, were a huge deal for the Alaska seafood processors, for whom the USDA has been a great customer.

USDA announced in August that federal funds would be used to purchase up to $30 million worth of surplus Alaska canned sockeye salmon for its Emergency Food Assistance Program. That product was earmarked for distribution to food banks and food pantries nationwide to provide millions of meals for hungry Americans.

USDA also buys wild Alaska pollock in a similar bid process during the summer and again in December.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Competition Begins for 2016 Alaska Symphony of Seafood

The Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation has issued a call for products to compete in the 2016 Alaska Symphony of Seafood competition for value added products made from Alaska seafood.
The deadline for entries is Jan. 8.

A new category being added this year, Beyond the Egg, will include products made with roe or uni, such as jarred ikura, herring roe-on-kelp, uni paste or uni crème brulee.  Last year Arctic Paws LLC of Anchorage, which produces the popular pet food snack Yummy Chummies, won the grand prize for pet snack entries into the Symphony’s Beyond the Plate category.

Each product entered in the competition is grouped into one of four categories, including Beyond the Egg, Beyond the Plate, retail or food service.

Entries are judged on the product’s packaging and presentation, overall eating experience, price and potential for commercial success.  First, second, third and grand prize winners will be awarded, as well as the People’s Choice award voted on by those attending Symphony galas in Seattle, Juneau and Anchorage in February.

Winners will be given the opportunity to display their product at Seafood Expo North America in Boston next spring.

The overall goal of the Symphony is to inspire innovative ways to use Alaska’s natural seafood resources.

More information is at

The Symphony, sponsored by AFDF since 1993, celebrates creative and innovative ideas for value added products in the seafood industry by encouraging participation and sponsorship of the event from a wide variety of companies, organizations and government entities interacting with the seafood industry.

FN Online Advertising