Stephanie Joyce, APRN Contributor


A pirate fishing vessel intercepted by the Coast Guard in August has been cut up. Captain Phillip Thorne is the head of enforcement for Alaska. He says the Chinese government has disposed of the 177-foot Da Cheng.

The Coast Guard lifted an order restricting movement of Shell’s Kulluk drill rig Thursday morning. Petty Officer David Moseley says the company had to provide information about assessments of the rig and their tow plan to the Coast Guard for review.

An intense lobbying campaign by Alaska’s congressional delegation has paid off for residents of the Aleutian community of King Cove. A group of them will have the chance to meet face-to-face with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar at the end of the month.

They are often overshadowed by the larger Bering Sea fleets, but Unalaska has a handful of small boat commercial fishermen who make their living in the waters around the Aleutian Islands. During the recent tanner crab fishery, KUCB’s Stephanie Joyce headed out to see what it’s like to be a small boat in big boat territory.

A petition for the federal government to list several dozen species of Alaska cold water corals as endangered has stalled after an initial review.

After the grounding of Shell’s Kulluk drill rig in January, reports circulated that the company had been moving it from Unalaska to Seattle in order to avoid Alaska’s oil and gas property tax. But this week, as the Kodiak Daily Mirror first reported, the state decided that tax doesn’t actually apply to the offshore rig. That’s despite the Kulluk being grounding in Alaskan waters on Jan. 1, when the state’s oil and gas property tax rolls were drafted.

In isolated spots in the Bering Sea, there are fields of so-called ‘mermaids’ purses.’ Any beachcomber would recognize them -- small rectangular pods with pointy corners. They’re the protective casing that surrounds the fertilized eggs of skates, and in some underwater nurseries there are hundreds of thousands of them.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service came out against a controversial proposed road through the Izembek National Wildlife refuge today. Residents of the Aleutian community of King Cove are disappointed, but as KUCB’s Stephanie Joyce reports, they’re not giving up on the project.

Shell’s chief executives responded to questions about the January grounding of the Kulluk drill rig during the company’s annual results conference in London Thursday. In a prepared presentation, Shell’s Chief Executive Officer, Peter Voser, played down the company’s many mishaps in Alaska last year.

Eagle-human relations in Unalaska are usually relatively peaceful. But for a few months each springtime they can turn violent as the eagles attempt to protect their nests. Last week, the city took preemptive action to ward off future attacks.

When Atka’s hydroelectric power plant came online at the end of last month, it was the culmination of decades of planning, according to city administrator Julie Dirks.

The three-person public safety department on the Pribilof Island of St. Paul shut down this week suddenly without much explanation, leaving the Bering Sea island without an on-site law enforcement presence. For the past few months there’s been tension between the community and the police department.

Alaska as a whole is a very military-oriented state, with one of the highest percentages of military membership in the nation, but that trend doesn’t extend out to the Aleutians. At least not yet. The commander in charge of Alaska’s Army National Guard is in Unalaska this week, scoping the possibility of forming a unit in the community.

Unalaska’s smallest processing plant is now a major player in the Aleutian Islands golden king crab fishery. A recent purchase by one of Bering Fisheries’ parent companies will bring an extra 1.2 million of pounds of king crab through the plant every year.

The Environmental Protection Agency has fined four Alaska seafood processing vessels for alleged Clean Water Act violations. The processors agreed to pay a combined total of more than $300,000 to settle the allegations, which revolve around seafood waste discharge. All four vessels process groundfish in the federal waters off Alaska’s coast, and dump unusable fish waste back into the ocean.

Shell’s Kulluk drill rig is back in Unalaska after spending the fall in the Beaufort Sea, but it may not be around for long. Shell previously said the Kulluk would overwinter in Unalaska at its custom dock in Captain’s Bay, but spokesperson Kelly op de Weegh now says that it may go south for maintenance.

An explosion aboard Shell’s Noble Discoverer drill rig sent fire crews in Unalaska scrambling this morning. Ports Director Peggy McLaughlin says she felt the blast from the harbor office, which is about 200 yards away.

While Akutan’s new airport has received considerable attention and scrutiny for being expensive and inaccessible, another large infrastructure project on the island that suffers some of the same problems has mostly flown under the radar.

After several months of inactivity, Cleveland Volcano erupted on Saturday.

Shell’s Noble Discoverer drill rig is docked in Unalaska and the Kulluk is on its way after a series of delays. Popular Mechanics reports that detaching the Kulluk from its mooring system and getting it under tow was delayed. The drilling season ended last week, but because of deteriorating weather conditions in the Beaufort Sea, the company hadn’t been able to refuel the Aiviq - an icebreaking tug that will tow the Kulluk - and below-zero conditions were keeping helicopters grounded.