Robert Woolsey, KCAW - Sitka
After refusing to implement an electronic monitoring program developed by fishermen, NOAA Fisheries is moving forward with a plan of its own to test cameras on boats this spring. But a top official who met with Sitka fishermen last week said too many questions remain about the system, and there’s no way a functional electronic monitoring program could be ready in the next two years.
Recently in Sitka, residents were invited to visit the library and sign a card of support for Joe Mille, a 2009 graduate of Sitka High, who lost his right leg in combat in Afghanistan, and who is now in a rehabilitation unit at Walter Reed Hospital in Maryland. The individual organizing the effort, however, is not in Mille’s family, or a member of his church. He’s the photojournalist who broke the story.
Redistricting has cost Southeast one legislator this session, and voters in District 34 have made things even more interesting by sending a freshman to the House. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins will be 23-years old when he’s sworn in next Tuesday. Here’s a session preview from the state’s youngest legislator.
Monday, Jan. 7, is Christmas Day on the Julian calendar observed by the Eastern Orthodox Christians. Western churches and most secular institutions follow the Gregorian calendar. In both calendars, however, Christmas falls on December 25th.
A college professor who studies food systems is putting his money where his brain is. Nic Mink has spent the past two summers in Sitka meeting fishermen and learning about the economy salmon trolling. Now, he’s launched a business to connect individual boats with consumers in the Midwest.
A major gear group is pushing back against rules set to take effect this January that will put human observers aboard some smaller fishing boats. The Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association has enlisted the help of the state’s congressional delegation to try and delay implementation of the observer program for small boats, and to adopt a more efficient electronic monitoring program instead.
The Sitka High wood shop is involved in an experiment to learn if young-growth timber can be made into high end furniture and other products. One of three class sections is using locally-harvested and milled alder in their projects; the other two are using traditional hardwoods from the lower forty-eight. Their teacher says his students don’t notice any difference.
A writer and salmon troller has published a new collection of articles written over the course of thirty-five years fishing in Southeast. As the Gurdy Turns is the first book for Ron Rau, who was a frequent contributor to The Alaska Fisherman’s Journal.
Wood energy is making a comeback in Sitka. With fuel prices approaching record highs, locals are returning to firewood, and to other forms of wood fuel lumped under the term “biomass.” This Saturday, the community is holding a “Wood Energy Fair” to re-introduce residents to wood heat in the home.
The two candidates for the newly-created legislative district that represents Sitka, Haines, Hoonah and Angoon, met in Sitka last week in a forum sponsored by the city’s Chamber of Commerce.
Every once in a while an historian makes a find that changes everything. Recently, a researcher combing through the National Archives made just such a discovery. In this case, while working on a project to scan some of the very first maps of Alaska, he learned how early cartographers so accurately depicted places they had never been.
Southcentral Alaska has its white moose, now Southeast Alaska has its white deer. Alaska Department of Fish & Game biologist Phil Mooney was tagging mountain goats on Baranof Island outside of Sitka in late August and saw the unusual animal from his helicopter.
This time, it’s the story of the buoy that didn’t get away. The US Coast Guard Cutter Maple retrieved the Cape Edgecumbe weather buoy last week, after the errant instrument spent six days adrift in the Gulf of Alaska. The buoy was only about 10 miles off station, dutifully transmitting weather and ocean conditions as it slowly cruised north and west in the balmiest seas of the summer.
A former Alaskan is one of five finalists for the 2012 Outside Magazine Outdoor Adventure grant. Quinn Langbauer is a 2007 Sitka High graduate. If he wins, he and his brother and a friend from college will spend most of next year bicycling over 7,000 miles across Siberia.
The city of Sitka has gone on record in support of efforts to reduce the amount of halibut wasted in Alaska’s trawl fisheries. The Sitka assembly last week unanimously approved asking the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council to lower the cap on trawl bycatch when it meets in Kodiak in June.