Business

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.

Occupational license fees on the rise

Juniper Lanmon-Freeman cried the first time she attended the birth of a child. A licensed midwife, Lanmon-Freeman now delivers two to three babies per month for mothers at their homes. But the job goes far beyond that — by the time she delivers the child, she’s spent weeks with the mother.

“(On) my last birth, I visited her 13 times before she had her baby,” she said. “When they’re in labor, you’ve built this relationship with them. It’s more like a sister relationship or a good female friend.”

Copper River drift gillnet fishery falls short of expectations

Adding to a long list of salmon fisheries that did not produce as expected in 2016, the Copper River drift gillnet fishery fell well short of expectations, in spite of above average time and effort.

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game preliminary report, the notoriously dangerous Copper River Flats sockeye/king salmon fishery, which opened, as usual, to much fanfare on May 16, was expected to produce 21,000 chinook, 1.62 million sockeye and 201,000 coho salmon through the end of the season.

Assembly reduces Planning Commission

The number of Kenai Peninsula Borough Planning Commission members will decrease to 11, but not until 2020.

After initially voting it down, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly resurrected and passed an ordinance that revised the apportionment for Planning Commission membership at its Tuesday meeting. The commission, which approves or denies plats and advises the assembly on land use issues, currently has 13 members. After July 31, 2020, it will have a maximum of 11.

HEA answers questions about its proposal to withdraw from RCA

Homer Electric Association officials, including board members, have been holding member outreach meetings on the Kenai Peninsula seeking support for what it calls “local control” — removing HEA from regulation by the Regulatory Commission of Alaska. But HEA also wants members to make an informed decision, said general manager Brad Janorschke.

“I think it’s more important we have dialogue and ask questions,” he said at a Homer meeting held Sept. 28.

Cook Inlet salmon seasonfalls short of expectations

Once again, the 2016 Upper Cook Inlet salmon season fell far short of expectations.

The 2016 commercial harvest of around 3 million salmon was 12 percent less than the most recent 10-year average harvest of 3.5 million salmon of all species, but even lower for sockeyes.

The dollar value was also lower, coming in at $22.3 million, 23 percent less than the 10-year average.

While all five species of salmon are caught and sold in Cook Inlet, sockeyes have made up almost 93 percent of the value for at least the past 20 years.

Alaska Federation of Natives celebrates 50 years

On the morning of Oct. 18, 1966, Emil Notti, an Athabascan born in Koyukuk, called the first gathering of the Alaska Federation of Natives to order. Almost exactly five decades later, he is slated to give the keynote speech today at the 50th annual convention in Fairbanks.

“No, it does not feel like 50 years has gone by,” said Notti, now in his 80s, reflecting on a whirlwind of change.

Board of Fisheries to hold work session in Soldotna

Later this month, Kenai Peninsula residents will get a chance to air their concerns to the state Board of Fisheries in Soldotna.

The Board of Fisheries will host a work session from Oct. 18-20 at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, with an informational session held on Oct. 17 at 3 p.m. The first day, Oct. 18, will be set aside completely for public testimony, and the second two days will be to discuss agenda change requests, which are proposals submitted outside the regular three-year cycle, petitions, officer elections and board business.

HEA board appoints Levine new director

The Homer Electric Association board of directors at a meeting last Wednesday appointed Homer resident Jim Levine to fill the vacant seat on the board in District 3, representing Kasilof south to Kachemak Bay areas, HEA director of member relations Bruce Shelley said in a press release on Friday. The seat became vacant when District 3 board member Don Seelinger resigned this summer.

Caelus announces 6 billion barrel discovery

Caelus Energy announced Tuesday that it is sitting on 6 billion barrels of oil on the western North Slope, a prospect CEO Jim Musselman said he expects will continue to grow.

The prospect is Smith Bay, a remote inlet of state-owned water more than 100 miles west of current Slope infrastructure.

Musselman and the rest of the Dallas-based independent’s leadership team acknowledge development will not be easy, but if seen through to fruition it could produce up to 200,000 barrels per day.

Hilcorp plans new gas wells near Ninilchik

The Alaska Division of Oil and Gas has approved a Plan of Operations for Hilcorp Alaska to develop a new pad outside Ninilchik to support natural gas drilling operations.

The Alaska subsidiary of the Houston, Texas-based company has been expanding operations in its Ninilchik unit holdings since acquiring the unit in 2013 from Marathon. Last year, the company applied to the Alaska Division of Oil and Gas to build a new gravel pad in its Deep Creek Unit, located southeast of Ninilchik, to support new exploration wells there.

Alaska Railroad prepares for first U.S. shipments of natural gas

ANCHORAGE — The Alaska Railroad is making final preparations for the first U.S. rail shipments of liquefied natural gas, a fuel that could be used to alleviate air pollution problems in the state’s second-largest city.

The railroad Tuesday sent two loaded 40-foot LNG containers from Anchorage to Fairbanks as part of a demonstration. Seven more round-trips over four weeks will follow, said Tim Sullivan, manager of external affairs.

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.”

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