DJ Summers

Fishermen to feel budget cuts

By DJ Summers

Morris News Service - Alaska

Discussions continue on how to patch up the state’s $3 billion budget hole, and again fishermen will feel the cuts from one realm or another.

Meanwhile, legislators are hinting at an overarching message: find money anywhere but here and prove that your job matters.

NOAA planwould set aside more salmon to help beluga population

Cook Inlet could have a new group of salmon users joining recreational, commercial, subsistence and personal use fishermen: endangered beluga whales.

The National Marine Fisheries Service, or NMFS, wants the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to start considering the dietary needs of Cook Inlet beluga in management plans, part of a nationwide Species in the Spotlight project aimed to boost eight different species to the point of delisting them from the status as a threatened species.

Council allows sport guides to buy halibut quota

Culture shifts, as does policy.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council, master of the nation’s most valuable fishing region, decided on Dec. 10 to implement a new plan that in some ways reflects changing attitudes and economies in the North Pacific and in Alaska.

The plan involves allowing guided recreational halibut fishermen to buy up commercial quota through a system called an RQE — a recreational quota entity. This differs from an existing program that allows sport guides to lease, but not buy, commercial quota.

Budget cuts take bite out of herring harvest

Budget cuts take bite out of herring harvest

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is buckling under deep budget cuts, and now the state’s largest herring fishery is feeling the squeeze.

ADF&G has canceled vital abundance studies and surveys for several fisheries, meaning fishermen won’t get to prosecute the full amount of otherwise healthy stocks.

Bankers keep eyes on uncertain future

Alaska’s bankers keep eyes on uncertain future

By DJ Summers

Morris News Service - Alaska

“There was cautious optimism in the first six months of the year,” said First National Bank Alaska Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Michelle Schuh. “Now I think people are just being cautious.”

Legislative panels address hot pot topics

Legislative panels address hot pot topics

Welcome to the conversation, legislators.

Senate and House Judiciary Committees called a joint informational meeting at the Downtown Anchorage Legislative Information Office on Sept. 14 to discuss the hottest and longest running topics in the Alaska marijuana industry: namely timeline, board politics, banking, unlicensed sales, and marijuana social clubs.

The Legislature, which has been mostly absent from discussions surrounding recreational legalization, bowed under the weight of the state budget crisis.

Proposals revisit Cook Inlet fish battles

Deadlines have passed for proposals to the 2017 Upper Cook Inlet finfish meeting of the Alaska Board of Fisheries.

The proposal book, now under review, is stuffed with 499 pages that largely carry over the battles fought in the 2014 meeting, when the two-week Board of Fisheries marathon gave way to new rules for the Kenai River management plans that added fuel to the so-called Cook Inlet “fish wars.”

The book is currently under review for the 166 proposals submitted.

Walker uproots Schulte from Marijuana Control Board, cites lack of collaboration

Gov. Bill Walker has removed Bruce Schulte from the Marijuana Control Board.

Walker’s letter gives little explanation for Schulte’s removal.

“While I have appreciated your willingness to serve on the Marijuana Control Board, I have determined that your continued representation on this board is not in the best interest of Alaska,” stated the letter signed by Walker and dated July 29.

Health care jobs see spike

Health care employment continues rising in the state, though economists are still unsure precisely what drives that growth to the levels observed.

A state Bureau of Labor Statistics report released in May detailed that the Anchorage’s health care employee ranks rose by 1,000 year-over-year.

This high number could be a data flub, but it is consistent with the projections that Alaska’s health care industry will continue its status as the largest job growth sector in the state.

S&P notices lack of budget fix

Credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s released a statement on May 19 warning the Legislature once again that a failure to address the $4 billion budget gap may further lower Alaska’s credit rating.

The Legislature adjourned on May 18 at the end of an extended, 121-day session without passing a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, or any of several fiscal changes concerning the Permanent Fund or oil and gas tax credits.

Lack of cannabis testing facilities presents bottleneck to sales

The Alaska marijuana industry first business licenses will be issued in June, and the most crucial kind have the lowest number of applications.

Testing facilities — one of the four commercial cannabis licenses created under legalization — present a possible industry bottleneck. All cannabis products sold in Alaska must undergo tests in state-licensed labs.

Marijuana Control Board changes policy to speed slowed licensing process

The Marijuana Control Board enacted a policy decision April 27 that will hurry along the licensing process that has been slowed since the state started taking applications Feb. 24.

The board voted 4-1 to allow its Executive Director Cynthia Franklin to declare license applications complete before state and federal fingerprint background checks are completed.

Only Loren Jones opposed the policy decision of the five-member board.

Marijuana social clubs dwindle as legal confusion reigns

Anchorage’s Pot Luck Events is the only marijuana social club still operating without a legal challenge, as statewide puzzlement to their legality produces a patchwork of local controls.

Fairbanks’ The Higher Calling and Homer’s Kachemak Cannabis Club have both closed, and the City of Kenai is seeking an injunction against Green Rush Events.

Bank officials on economy:

Northrim Bank leaders say Alaska’s state fiscal outlook may be grim, but the economy has some positives to focus on as well.

The bank has launched a new speaking series geared specifically towards helping businesses navigate the state’s new fiscal environment. The key point is psychology, the bank’s leaders say. They don’t deny the importance of the state’s $4.1 billion budget deficit and they don’t deny that an economic downturn is in the works, but they say handwringing is the wrong response.

Cultivation licenses lead pot applications

ANCHORAGE — The first batch of marijuana business license applications is available to the public, and so far Alaskans have more interest in growing than selling.

The Marijuana Control Board began accepting license applications on Feb. 24, but only made them available to the public March 14. Public figures from various marijuana industry and political groups have filed, including members of the Marijuana Control Board itself and the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association.

Walker orders mariculture task force

Gov. Bill Walker issued an administrative order on Feb. 29 establishing a mariculture task force for shellfish and sea plants.

Walker’s order responds to both economic and ecological concerns. The release touts the potential economic benefits to coastal communities and the Alaska fishing industry. 

Further, as ocean acidification continues to impact shellfish, Walker said the stocks need all the help they can get in recovering.

‘GE’ salmon labeling bill requires third-party review

Sen. Lisa Murkowski introduced a bill on March 3 that would require all genetically engineered salmon to carry the words “genetically engineered” or “GE.” The bill’s language resulted from discussions between Murkowski and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, strengthening earlier FDA language that made the labeling voluntary rather than mandatory.

Murkowski lifts hold on FDA nominee

The FDA could require mandatory labeling for genetically engineered salmon as soon as March.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski has lifted a nomination hold on the nomination of Dr. Richard Califf as U.S. Food and Drug Administration chief, saying the administration has guaranteed mandatory labeling requirements for genetically engineered salmon.

Marijuana industry faces steep lease rates in tight market

ANCHORAGE — Marijuana business can expect a hefty square footage price for retail, cultivation and manufacturing leases within the Municipality of Anchorage once they open for business.

On Wednesday, the Alaska Marijuana Control Board started accepting business license applications. In the meantime, several industry sources report being charged several times the average per square footage lease rate for their planned marijuana operations, or entering into lease agreements that give a percentage of business profits to the landlord.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - DJ Summers