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#02-28-2014 - ComFish News Roundup (EPA moves re: Pebble)

EPA starts process that could restrict Pebble Mine
Washington Post
Associated Press
February 28, 2014 Updated 24 minutes ago
JUNEAU, ALASKA — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is taking the first steps toward possibly restricting or even prohibiting development of a massive gold-and-copper prospect near the headwaters of a world-premier sockeye salmon fishery in southwest Alaska. The decision follows release of an EPA report in January that found large-scale mining in the Bristol Bay watershed posed significant risk to salmon and could adversely affect Alaska Natives in the region, whose culture is built around salmon. The action, being announced Friday, is what supporters of the proposed Pebble Mine have feared — and could result in the agency blocking the project, even before it gets to the permitting phase. Opponents of the mine have urged EPA to take steps to protect the region. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a release that scientific study has provided "ample reason to believe that the Pebble Mine would likely have significant and irreversible negative impacts" on the watershed and its salmon. The watershed produces....
Early Run Kings Closed
Posted: February 28, 2014 at 6:59 am
The Kenai River has been closed to early run king salmon fishing this year. The Department of Fish & Game says returns have been low since 2009, and through July 31 there will be no fishing on kings, not even catch and release. The pre-season forecast for the return to the Kenai is just 2,200 fish. That would be the lowest return on record. The escapement goal is 5,300 to 9,000 fish....
Industry Says U.S. Fish Law Works Well in Alaska
By Liz Ruskin, APRN - Washington DC | February 27, 2014 - 5:49 pm
The Magnuson-Stevens Act, the 1976 law that governs fishing in the Bering Sea, Gulf of Alaska and other federal waters, is up for reauthorization in Congress. In past revisions, sectors of the Alaska industry squared off against each other. This time, the industry is mostly united in praising the law. But some of Alaska’s non-commercial fishermen say their needs aren’t getting enough attention....
Self-employed fishers prepare for ACA mandate
Published: 2014.02.27 11:07 AM
As the March 31 deadline for the individual insurance mandate under the Affordable Care Act nears, Alaska’s fishers are still navigating the changes. “My sense is, a lot of fishermen are still in a wait and see mode,” said United Fishermen of Alaska Executive Adminstrator Mark Vinsel. Fishermen and charter operators are often self-employed, and the mandate for Americans to procure health insurance will directly affect them. Officially, the mandate went into affect in January, but enrollment through the new health insurance exchanges is available until March 31, and penalties will not be assessed for those who enroll by that date. Those that don’t enroll will face a tax penalty. According to a 2009 study by the Small Business Majority, a California-based advocacy group that includes former Alaska state Rep. Terry Gardiner on its staff, 32 percent of....

ARDORs, hair crab limited entry revived
Published: 2014.02.27 11:06 AM
JUNEAU — The bill to resurrect the Alaska Regional Development Organization program and the now-unique vessel-based limited entry system for the currently closed Korean hair crab fishery is on its way to Gov. Sean Parnell after a House floor debate as strange as the measure’s weird path through the Legislature. The completely unrelated issues were locked into the bill last year in a common end-of-session maneuver. With the ARDOR extension expected to pass easily, Sen. Donny Olson, D-Golovin, attached his bill to extend the sunset date on the vessel permitting....

Assembly hopes to attract more federal research jobs to Juneau
By Casey Kelly
Posted on February 27, 2014 at 6:00 am
Did you know the Alaska Fisheries Science Center is not based in Alaska? In fact, most of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration researchers who support Alaska fisheries are based in Seattle. The Juneau Assembly wants to change that. Mayor Merrill Sanford this week created a task force to look at bringing more federal marine science jobs to Alaska. While the task force will study the issue from a Juneau perspective, Sanford said other communities could benefit as well.....

Wrangell: Fishing boat sinks in Shoemaker Harbor
By Brian O Connor
February 27, 2014
38-foot fishing trawler has a potential date with fire after sinking in Shoemaker Bay earlier this month, authorities said. Harbor users reported the Falcon had sunk on the morning of Feb. 13. The boat's Ketchikan-based owner contacted local harbor officials shortly after they contacted the National Response Center, said harbormaster Greg Meissner. Officials aren't sure how much oil was aboard when the boat went down, but as of Monday, the vessel had been refloated and....

Medred: I love salmon, too. Here's my story
Craig Medred
February 27, 2014
Somehow no one asked me to write one of those warm and cuddly essays for The Salmon Project. Maybe they just knew how I feel about what has become of first-person reportage in America in the new millennium where stimulation of one's ego is all the rage. The self-important wastage of personal pronouns in the journalism of our day gets old fast. The simplest of observations seem to have been sacrificed on the altar of "I" saw, "I" heard, "I" smelled, "I" witnessed, "I" yadda, yadda, yadda.....

State Seeks Local Volunteer for Mercury Monitoring Program
By Lauren Rosenthal
Thursday, February 27 2014
For five years, a group of scientists from all across the country has been quietly monitoring Unalaska to find out how much mercury travels here from Asia across the Pacific Ocean. But now that program has stalled for lack of a local volunteer. Anna Breuninger is an air quality specialist with the state of Alaska, and part of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program. Brueninger says their goal is to protect seafood from mercury contamination. "We want to get a handle on it before it gets to the point where our...

‘Deadliest Catch’ reality TV star hauls in big audience at Rockport fishing talk
By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff
Posted Feb. 27, 2014, at 6:11 p.m.
ROCKPORT, Maine — They fish for different crustaceans on different oceans 4,000 miles apart, but the lobstermen of Maine and Captain Keith Colburn of the reality television show “Deadliest Catch” clearly have a lot in common. Colburn, who made friends with some lobstermen while biking down the Maine coast last summer, talked and answered questions for more than three hours Thursday afternoon during the opening day of the annual Maine Fishermen’s Forum at the Samoset Resort in Rockport. More than 100 lobstermen, lobstermen’s spouses and others listened intently to Colburn, who....

Hope for spring
Thursday, 27 February 2014
New England is still firmly in winter's grasp with no signs of spring, except the luxury of returning home from work and school in waning daylight — for nine-to-fivers, that is. Most fishermen still start their day before sunup and return to dock well after dark. That is, if they're still fishing....

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