Alaska News Nightly: December 1, 2011

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Fuel Shipment May Be Able Get To Nome

Ben Matheson, KNOM – Nome

The shipping season may not be over in Nome.  Delta Western’s delivery of 1.6 million gallons of fuel was delayed by the storm and stopped by thick ice earlier this month.   But Nome residents woke up to see the Coast Guard’s only functioning ice breaker–the Healy- anchored near town.  Delta Western is now trying to figure out if a marine delivery is still possible.

Treadwell Pushes For New Icebreakers

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC

Alaska’s Lieutenant Governor pressed Congress Thursday for new icebreaker ships to operate in the Arctic.  The issue became more immediate as Mead Treadwell and others pointed to Nome’s trouble getting fuel this year

Experts Predict More Greenhouse Gas From Thawing Permafrost

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

International climate experts predict more greenhouse gases’ from thawing permafrost. A synopsis of a survey of 41 scientists is in an article published this week in the journal Nature. University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate student and project co-leader Ben Abbot says thawing permafrost has long been recognized as a major source of carbon dioxide and methane, but the survey shows scientists believe the potential to be much greater.

That carbon is from dead plants and animals accumulated and preserved in chilled northern soils over millions of years. Abbot says current estimates put the amount of CO2 and methane locked in frozen soils at more than is currently embodied by all living things.

The carbon release from permafrost thawing is forecast to be greater than from deforestation, but secondary to human fossil fuel burning.  Abbot says surveyed scientists believe the release of permafrost carbon will not be linear.

Abbot calls the survey results a best guess at what’s going to happen.  Research underway, including projects out of U.A.F.’s Toolik Lake field station in the Brooks Range, is aimed at quantifying the hypothesis with hard data.

Mike Hawker Cancer In ‘Complete Remission’

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

Thursday, Anchorage Republican Mike Hawker learned that the cancer he has been fighting for more than a year is in complete remission.   A year ago,  doctors had not expected Hawker to live more than a few weeks.  Today, they told him that his life expectancy is the same as it was before the cancer ever appeared.   APRN’s Dave Donaldson spoke with Representative Hawker earlier this afternoon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota.

State’s Immigrant Population Lower Than National Average

Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage

The influx of immigrants to Alaska is apparent, particularly in the state’s larger cities.  But a newly released study shows the state’s immigrant population–both authorized and unauthorized–is lower per capita than the U.S. average.   Nor does Alaska immigration fit other patterns.

Scientists Unveil Draft Halibut Limits for 2012

Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg

Scientists are calling for another substantial reduction in the coast-wide commercial halibut catch. During a meeting Wednesday in Seattle, the International Pacific Halibut Commission’s staff unveiled recommendations for an overall drop of 19 percent from this year. IPHC Scientist Stephen Hare started his presentation on this year’s halibut assessment with a sobering sentiment.

Overall, researchers have seen a decade-long decline in the amount of halibut that are big enough to keep the exploitable biomass. They say the number of individual fish is up, but the fish are much smaller than they used to be.

Under the IPHC staff recommendations for 2012, most fishing regions would see cuts but Southeast Alaska could actually see a slight increase of about 13 percent or 300 thousand pounds. That may come as a little relief for panhandle longliners who have lost nearly 80 percent of their quota in the last six years. Southeast charter operators have also been affected in the past few years with the implementation of a one fish bag limit and…this past season….a minimum size restriction….for their client’s fish.

The IPHC has also been considering whether it’s been conservative enough in managing the halibut stocks in past years and staff presented the commission with an alternative set of potential limits aimed at making up for previous overestimates. In that scenario, all fishing areas could see much larger cuts of 50 percent or more.

The staff recommendations are the beginning of the debate and deliberation for the Halibut Commissioners, who will not decide on the numbers until their annual meeting in January.

Bachelor Auction and Ball Coming to Talkeetna

Lorien Nettleton, KTNA – Talkeetna

The infamous Talkeetna Bachelor Auction and Ball has been entertaining single men and women for 30 years, and this year is no different. The men are for sale, but it’s the women who get them to go through with it.

Film Highlights Bristol Bay Native Culture

Daysha Eaton, KDLG – Dillingham

A film highlighting Native culture in Bristol Bay will premier at the Anchorage International Film Festival Gala on Friday. The short was created through a contest, challenging BBNC shareholders to create videos about what’s important to them.