Vol. 31, No. 11
Eighteen members of the Alaska Sea Grant Advisory Committee attended the annual meeting in Anchorage last month. New members welcomed were Kelly Harrell, executive director of the Alaska Marine Conservation Council; Bob Waldrop, executive director of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association; and Sue Aspelund, deputy director of the Commercial Fisheries Division, Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Bruce Bustamante, Princess Cruises, was elected vice-chair of the Advisory Committee.
The Advisory Committee, a dedicated group of Alaska leaders in the marine resource public and private sectors, reported on activities from their communities and provided advice on priorities and directions for future Sea Grant efforts. After hearing that Marine Advisory agent Izetta Chambers has trained 68 Alaskans to provide effective testimony in her National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) workshops, Mary Pete, director of the UAF Kuskokwim Campus, recommended a Bethel workshop to prepare citizens to comment on the upcoming Donlin Gold LLC project. Pete also mentioned that GPS/GIS training provided by Bethel MAP agent Terry Reeve has helped subsistence hunters locate nearby moose habitat, cutting fuel costs for hunters by decreasing lengthy upriver boat trips.
A highlight of the Advisory Committee meeting was Nome-based MAP agent Gay Sheffield’s presentation on the Bering Strait region. She focused on the economy, ocean conditions, changes, and residents’ concerns. Sheffield said that people who live in the region’s 15 coastal communities are worried about increased loss of sea ice habitat and the marine animals that use the ice; less predictable and less accessible marine resources; changes in boating conditions brought about by loss of sea ice; increasing cost and risk due to longer travel time in open seas; changes in health of marine ecosystems; and impacts of the mining industry in the current gold rush, which is held to fewer standards than fishing fleets.
The Bering Strait region saw increased commercial ship traffic in August 2011, including the first tanker carrying liquefied natural gas. Positive changes that could come with ship traffic are improved telecommunications, local employment, better SAR response, training and education opportunities, environmental monitoring, representation in policy making, and improved health care and social services. Concerns with ship traffic focus on the high potential for accidents due to winter darkness, strong and unpredictable currents, shallow seas, lack of navigation aids, and inadequate communication and infrastructure. International shipping lanes and jurisdiction along the Russian border are also issues.
Sheffield and the NOAA Alaska Regional Team will cohost the Bering Strait Maritime Symposium in Nome in early 2012, to link local residents with government agencies and industry involved in planning increased use of the Bering Strait transportation corridor.
Terry Johnson, Marine Advisory marine recreation and tourism specialist, is the author of the new Alaska Sea Grant publication, Saving Fuel on Your Recreational or Charter Boat. The eight-page Sea Gram tells how boats consume fuel and what to do to improve fuel efficiency while still getting full use of the vessel. Boaters learn how to calculate fuel consumption and range; minimize inefficiencies in fuel use; choose, set up, and operate an engine for best fuel economy; and operate a boat for peak efficiency. Download a free PDF from the ASG Bookstore.
Alaska Sea Grant will cohost the annual Holiday Open House on Thursday, December 1, 2-6 pm, with University of Alaska Press and UAF Marketing and Communications. Please come to the 2nd floor at 794 University Avenue in Fairbanks to greet friends and colleagues, indulge in sweet and savory treats, and shop for holiday gift books.
Geoduck farming is a huge business with a global demand valued at more than $100 million annually. In North America, most geoduck are farmed in Washington state and British Columbia. Southeast Alaska, with hundreds of intertidal miles, represents an opportunity for geoduck farming business and employment diversification.
Marine Advisory aquaculture specialist Ray RaLonde, partnering with the Annette Island Reserve’s Department of Natural Resources and the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery, completed a seven-year growout study on the feasibility of geoduck farming on Annette Island. The island is home to 1,500 people of the Metlakatla Indian Community, predominantly Tsimshian Indian.
The growout study demonstrated that commercial geoduck clam culture is achievable in southeast Alaska, and as a result, Metlakatla community leaders are starting their first large-scale commercial geoduck farm.
Dozens of commercial salmon fishermen live and work in Alaska’s remote Kuskokwim River Delta communities, and until recently few have had access to ice or refrigeration for their small open fishing boats. Terry Reeve, Bethel Marine Advisory agent, has worked with Kuskokwim Seafoods LLC, Coastal Villages Seafoods, and fishermen to introduce slush-ice bags to boost fish quality. He was instrumental in sourcing 1,000 slush-ice bags for fishermen and training fishermen how to use them.
In 2010 Kuskokwim Seafoods processed 400,000 pounds of salmon, and in 2011 they processed 800,000 pounds. Most of the Kuskokwim River fishermen used slush-ice bags during those seasons. Reeve also partnered with Washington Sea Grant to conduct workshops with the Lummi Tribe, which spurred the tribe to order 350 slush-ice bags for their fishermen.
Marine Advisory seafood quality specialist Chuck Crapo and seafood marketing specialist Quentin Fong helped Crabby Sisters, a new Kodiak producer of gourmet king crab cakes, improve their products, packaging, and marketing. As a result, Crabby Sisters won third place in the retail category in the 2011 Alaska Symphony of Seafood, besting many established seafood businesses.
In a recent letter to the university, partners Brooke McLaughlin and Meghan Clark stated, “We have worked extensively with Quentin Fong, Chuck Crapo, and their graduate students over the last one and a half years. They have guided us step by step with their expertise and mentorship. Without their support, we would not have brought our product to market in the manner we did.”