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#03-01-2014 - ComFish News Roundup

Leaders, stakeholders react after EPA's Pebble Mine announcement
Yereth Rosen,Krestia DeGeorgeAlaska Dispatch
February 28, 2014
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is invoking rarely used legal powers to block permitting for the Pebble Mine, at least temporarily. Whether that action becomes permanent is yet to be determined and depends on the outcome of a formal process under wetlands provisions of the Clean Water Act. The EPA announced the action in a press release and a press conference that included its top official, Administrator Gina McCarthy, on Friday Morning, saying it sought to “identify appropriate options to protect the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery in Bristol Bay,” under part 404 (c) of the Clean Water Act.....

Seward High School teeming with Marine Science Experts
FEBRUARY 28, 2014 11:41 AM
Heidi Zemach for SCN
Eighteen teams are competing today, Friday Feb 28th through the weekend at the 17th Annual Alaska Region National Ocean Sciences Bowl. About 200 people are expected to attend, with another hundred volunteering to help out at the event in jobs such as timing, judging, scoring, cooking, creating art-work, and much more.  It’ll be a quick economic shot in the arm for the Seward community during the off-season, but for the students involved it’s much more. The original written research projects that each group produces provides students the opportunity to work closely with professionals in the marine sciences and fisheries at the University of Alaska and throughout the state. University of Alaska Southeast is offering tuition waivers to attend UAA to all members of the top two....

Food industry to make its own labeling splash
The food industry appears poised to one-up the Obama administration with the launch of a national media blitz to promote its own nutrition labels on the front of food packages. The Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute, which represent the biggest food companies and retailers, will roll out a coordinated marketing campaign, spending as much as $50 million, on Monday to promote their “Facts Up Front,” the industry’s own voluntary program for providing nutrition information on the front of food and beverage packages, POLITICO has learned. The groups briefed other food industry associations about the marketing campaign last Tuesday.....

Parnell absolves future owners of North Pole refinery of liability for groundwater contamination
Posted: Friday, February 28, 2014 12:37 pm | Updated: 7:03 pm, Fri Feb 28, 2014.
Matt Buxton
JUNEAU—Gov. Sean Parnell has decided that the state won't consider a new owner of the Flint Hills refinery in North Pole liable for the groundwater contamination stemming from years of chemical spills at the site. A company official, meanwhile, indicated a number of parties are reportedly looking to buy the soon-to-close plant. Parnell's announcement was heralded as good news for the Interior economy but left questions about the long-term environmental clean up and mitigation of soil and groundwater contamination in the North Pole area unanswered. Earlier this week, Flint Hills spokesman Jeff Cook sent a letter to Interior lawmakers saying that the company has had “a number of inquiries from parties interested in....

Building a road, finding a balance
February 28th 1:35 pm | Jillian Rogers
It's a fine balance between responsible development and maintaining a traditional way of life on the North Slope. Nuiqsut, a village of 400 located about 135 miles southeast of Barrow, is currently in the process of finding that balance with the development of a permanent 12-mile road stretching to Alpine, an unincorporated community that serves as an oil production field. Alpine is operated by ConocoPhillips Alaska, Inc. The proposed road is not an industrial route, but rather a path that would allow for better access to subsistence hunting and fishing areas, easier access to Alpine by employees living in Nuiqsut, and could offer potentially life-saving access for medical emergencies, said Lanston Chinn, the CEO of Nuiqsut's Kuukpik Corporation. The road will belong to the Native corporation, Chinn said, but in an emergency those in Nuiqsut and Alpine will work together. "We need to connect to the west and realize the...

Commercial Vessel Discharge Reform Act gains support
CDFU supports exemptions for commercial fishing vessels
Posted 02/28/2014
by - Margaret Bauman
Pending federal maritime legislation to exempt commercial fishing vessels from certain requirements of the Clean Water Act, which could otherwise result in substantial fines, is gaining widespread support with commercial fisheries groups. "Onerous," was just one of the words John Renner, vice president of Cordova District Fishermen United, used to describe the situation facing commercial fishing vessel owners and operators who could otherwise be subject to fines for activities such as deck washing. The Commercial Vessel Discharges Reform Act of 2013, which has been incorporated into H.R. 4005, the Coast Guard and....

Feb. 27, 2014 5:54 PM ET
Alaska dam expansion going over estimated cost
JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — The Blue Lake dam expansion near Sitka will go over estimates by $3.6 million. The Sitka assembly received the news Tuesday night from utility manager Chris Brewton. The original price tag for expansion of the dam, including new backup diesel generators, was $142 million, reports KCAW (

Sea otters declared recovered following 1989 spill
Posted: Friday, February 28, 2014 12:16 pm | Updated: 3:07 pm, Fri Feb 28, 2014.
Associated Press |
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A federal agency says sea otters in Alaska's Prince William Sound have recovered to levels seen before the Exxon Valdez oil spill. A U.S. Geological Survey study released Friday says crude oil that remained contributed to sea otter deaths and lower population numbers. Research scientist Brenda Ballachey says a....

Pac. Area Commander Tapped As Next Coast Guard Commandant
By Annie Ropeik
Friday, February 28 2014
The White House has nominated the Coast Guard’s Pacific Area commander to be its next commandant. Vice Admiral Paul Zukunft was nominated Friday to replace outgoing Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Robert Papp. Papp gave his final “State of the Coast Guard” address of his....

Strong Deep-Sea Quake Rattles Unalaska
By Annie Ropeik, KUCB - Unalaska | February 28, 2014 - 10:40 am
If there’s an earthquake in the ocean and no one’s there to feel it, did it really happen? On Wednesday in the Aleutian Islands, the answer was yes. A 6.1 magnitude quake coming from unusually deep underwater shook Nikolski and Unalaska around noon on Wednesday.....

Ore. author challenges salmon recovery politics
Jim Lichatowich would argue that predictions about "record" runs of salmon returning to the Columbia River this fall aren't telling the whole story. Runs of hatchery salmon go up and down from year to year, he points out — but none in recent decades equal the bounty of fish that swam up the river before European settlers arrived with their fishing fleets and, later, their dams......

Wednesday February 26, 2014 |  Bookmark and Share
Growing problem of parasites in the marine environment
Lots of issues in the groundfishery these days from the situation at Icewater to the ongoing challenges for cod harvesters. Tonight we'll sit down with the provincial minister to get the latest on a few of those fronts.....

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#01-14-2014 - ComFish News Roundup

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Danish commandos 'monitoring hippies' on Arctic offshore rig #artcticloons

Image by Steve Rhodes via Flickr Alaska Dispatch | May 31, 2011 Armed Danish commandos have (possibly) been summoned to monitor Earth-loving "hippies" clinging to the underbelly of an Arctic deepwater oil rig  off the coast of Greenland , sources say. The environmental non-governmental group  Greenpeace  has published  statements and  video  showing its activists aboard two ships that are attempting to "interfere" with oil exploration going on in the Davis Strait, 100 miles west of Greenland. This business has in turn prompted the Kingdom of Denmark to launch two ships and a few helicopters to monitor the Greenpeace interference. The  Leiv Eriksson  is the source of all this Arctic bait and switch. British oil company  Cairn Energy  is attempting to drill four wells at depths of at least 5,000 feet this summer in "iceberg-strewn sea" with the 53,000-ton offshore oil rig, which has made its way to Arctic waters after a month of failed attempts by Green