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Comfish News Roundup #06-08-2012

Murkowski, Young propose extending Bristol Bay comment period
Alaska Dispatch | Jun 07, 2012
Sen. Murkowski and Rep. Young sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today asking that the 60-day comment period in the Bristol Bay watershed assessment be extended until November 20, according to a press release....

Jun 7, 2012 - 03:22 AM AKST
EPA names review panel for Bristol Bay watershed study
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has appointed an independent scientific review panel for a draft watershed assessment of the Bristol Bay region in Southwest Alaska, where a joint-venture of Anglo American and Northern Dynasty Minerals are planning the large copper and gold Pebble mine, a senior EPA official said June 4. Notice of the panel, with its members identified, was published June 5 in the Federal Register. Dennis MacLerran, Administrator of EPA’s Region 10, spoke at a public hearing the EPA held in Anchorage on June 4, the first of seven Alaska hearings the agency will hold on the assessment. If developed, the Pebble project, west of Iliamna Lake southwest of Anchorage, would be a....

Jun 7, 2012 - 09:46 AM AKST
Officials worry about creatures on tsunami dock
When the tsunami hit the northern coast of Japan last year, the waves ripped four dock floats the size of freight train boxcars from their pilings in the fishing port of Misawa and turned them over to the whims of wind and currents. One floated up on a nearby island. Two have not been seen again. But one made an incredible journey across 5,000 miles of ocean that ended this week on a popular Oregon beach. Along for the ride were hundreds of millions of individual organisms, including a tiny species of crab, a species of algae, and a little starfish all native to Japan that have scientists concerned if they get a chance to spread out on the West Coast. "This is a very clear threat," said John Chapman, a research scientist at Oregon State University's.....

The Alaska Fisheries Report with Jay Barrett
Jun 07, 2012
Coming up this week: Ocean Beauty says damage to its Petersburg dock will force them to pack salmon elsewhere this summer; the North Pacific council is meeting right now....

Ketchikan Shipyard qualified for Army work
by Leila Kheiry
June 7, 2012 8:46 AM
Alaska Ship and Drydock has been qualified to compete for up to $46 million worth of work for the U.S. Army, such as drydock services, cleaning, painting, repairs and modifications to U.S. Army vessels. The three-year contract means that Army ships, active and reserve, that serve on the West Coast could come to Ketchikan for repair work. Director of Shipyard Development Doug Ward said Wednesday that the shipyard went through a long process to become qualified, including a site visit about a month ago from U.S. Army representatives. “I guess it was last fall, we began putting together a proposal in response to....

Letter: Salmon reclamation “plan” pure hubris
Posted: Thursday, June 7, 2012 4:02 pm
This is a glorious time of year in Southcentral Alaska, with nature's bounty hurling itself at our shores in the form of multitudes of salmon. As Alaskans head out to harvest that bounty, I hope they will contemplate the phenomenal complexity of nature that allows for such abundance, our wondrous good fortune to be....

$318K to boost Sitkoh salmon production
State, feds and non-profits to begin stream rehabilitation
Posted: June 8, 2012 - 12:04am
Government agencies and non-profit corporations joined forces to rehabilitate a Chichagof Island river, damaged by past logging practices. The Sitkoh River, located about 12 miles west of Angoon, is scheduled to benefit from a $318,000 rehabilitation project. “The goal is to restore the river’s capacity to produce salmon, steelhead, Dolly Varden and....

Clinton urges US cooperation in Arctic, ratifying Law of Sea
Katie Medred | Jun 06, 2012
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was back in Norway last weekend to talk cooperation and alliance for the predicted Arctic resource rush. Duly, she's been working behind the scenes in Congress to urge ratification of a United Nations treaty that will most likely become official international "rules of the road" in the Far North....

Unprecedented Blooms of Ocean Plant Life Discovered in Arctic Ocean
June 07, 2012
(SitNews) - Scientists have made a biological discovery in Arctic Ocean waters as dramatic and unexpected as finding a rainforest in the middle of a desert. A NASA-sponsored expedition punched through three-foot thick sea ice to find waters richer in microscopic marine plants, essential to all sea life, than any other ocean region on Earth. The finding reveals a new consequence of the Arctic's warming climate and provides an important clue to understanding the impacts of a changing climate and environment on the Arctic Ocean and its ecology. The discovery was made during a NASA oceanographic expedition in the summers of 2010 and 2011....

Rep. Young Works to Keep Icebreaker from Being Scrapped
Washington D.C., Jun 7, 2012
Fighting to prevent one third of our nation’s icebreaking fleet from being scrapped, Alaskan Congressman Don Young today successfully attached an amendment to H.R. 5887, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2012. Rep. Young’s amendment aims to gauge private sector interest in operating an icebreaker and directs the Coast Guard to also assess any interest the private sector would have in buying or leasing the USCGC Polar Sea. This amendment builds on a provision already contained in the underlying bill that requires the Coast Guard to complete an assessment and report back to Congress on what the cost would be to refurbish and get the ship back into service. “I have said it before and I’ll say it again – our icebreaking capabilities are woefully inadequate,” said Rep. Young. “The race for the Arctic and its resources has begun and we need to ensure all capable icebreakers are in service. The Coast Guard must explore all possibilities; that means making sure we’re not completely scrapping an icebreaker that the private sector has shown interest in. “It’s time to get creative -- whether it’s leasing or owning icebreakers, or even working with the private sector, we must work harder to improve our icebreaking capability.”  H.R. 5887 passed the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and now heads to the full House for a vote.....

Base plans for the Arctic on good science
COMPASS: Other points of view
Published: June 7th, 2012 09:23 PM
Last Modified: June 7th, 2012 09:23 PM
Friday is World Oceans Day and Alaskans can celebrate by honoring one of nature's most spectacular events -- the great migration of animals traveling into the Arctic Ocean. The Arctic Ocean is home to an unusual abundance of wildlife. Consistent and extensive polynyas -- stretches of open water surrounded by sea ice -- create pathways into the Arctic for bowhead whales, seals and birds seeking to take advantage of the explosion of productivity created by constant daylight.....

Alaska enters international scrum to protect Eskimo whalers
Alex DeMarban | Jun 06, 2012
Alaska's congressional delegation has sent a warning shot at the international body that sets whaling harvests: Ignore Eskimo bowhead whalers and the U.S. will set its own harvest limits. The three-member delegation said Tuesday they've introduced companion bills in both houses establishing the U.S. Commerce Secretary's authority to set subsistence catch limits if the International Whaling Commission does not. Whalers applauded the move because the fractious commission is composed of 89 member countries split over whaling, which means the body often has a difficult time finding the three-quarters support needed to approve limits. The commission has always found enough votes to set that limit, but not without a struggle.....

US braces for tsunami debris, but impact unclear
By Becky Bohrer and Audrey McAvoy
Associated Press / June 8, 2012
JUNEAU, Alaska—More than a year after a tsunami devastated Japan, killing thousands of people and washing millions of tons of debris into the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. government and West Coast states don't have a cohesive plan for cleaning up the rubble that floats to American shores. There is also no firm handle yet on just what to expect. The Japanese government estimates that 1.5 million tons of debris is floating in the ocean from the catastrophe. Some experts in the United States think the bulk of that trash will never reach shore, while others fear a massive, slowly-unfolding environmental disaster. "I think this is far worse than any oil spill that we've ever faced on the West Coast or any other environmental disaster we've faced on the West Coast" in terms of the debris' weight, type and geographic scope, said Chris Pallister...

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