Vol. 37, No. 3
US Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) expressed strong support for Alaska Sea Grant earlier this month at a reception celebrating the Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship Program at the Senate Hart Building. About 400 fellows, along with NOAA staff and Sea Grant directors from around the country, attended the event.
The senator’s remarks came on the heels of media reports saying the Trump Administration wants to zero out $73 million funding for all 33 Sea Grant programs, which was later confirmed in the White House budget.
Murkowski said eliminating Sea Grant would seriously harm her state and many others. “Sea Grant plays a vital role in Alaska,” Murkowski said. She noted Alaska Sea Grant accomplishments in research for the fishing industry and its education program in marine literacy for K-12 students.
During meetings with Alaska Sea Grant director Paula Cullenberg and Petersburg Marine Advisory leader Sunny Rice, other members of the state’s Republican congressional delegation—Sen. Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young—also expressed strong support for continued funding for Sea Grant.
In a letter to the Office of Management and Budget, six senators, including Murkowski and Sullivan, called the proposed cuts “dangerous” and “drastic.” They noted that Sea Grant programs had a national economic impact of $575 million in 2015, representing an 854 percent return on federal investment. Sea Grant created or sustained close to 3,000 businesses and 21,000 jobs annually in a wide range of industries. It also supported nearly 2,000 college and graduate students, training them to protect coastal economies and communities in the years ahead, the senators wrote.
In Alaska alone, Sea Grant sustained or created 87 businesses and 363 jobs in 2015-2016. It helped train 330 fishermen and seafood processors in safety, product development and technology to improve their operations. Nearly 20 graduate students worked on Alaska Sea Grant–funded research projects last year while 1,600 K-12 students learned about ocean and freshwater environments through our marine education programs.
Since 1979, National Sea Grant has supported over 1,000 Knauss Fellows. “The opportunities provided through this fellowship span the gaps between science and policy across party lines and is integral to the development of our nation as we move forward through the 21st century,” Murkowski said.
Three Alaskans are serving as Knauss fellows this year. Kelly Cates is a fellow at NOAA Legislative Affairs while Charlotte Regula-Whitefield is working for Sen. Murkowski. Both are finishing graduate school in fisheries at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Nicole Kanayurak from Barrow, attending the University of Washington, is also working at NOAA as a Knauss fellow.
“Our delegation clearly encouraged Alaskans to communicate with them about their concerns about the potential cuts to Sea Grant. I hope that they will hear from many of our diverse stakeholders across the state,” Cullenberg said.
“We greatly appreciate our delegation’s support now and in the months ahead as Congress deliberates on how to allocate federal funding,” Cullenberg added.
A fact sheet about Alaska Sea Grant’s work is available online. If you have questions about our program, please contact communications manager Paula Dobbyn at email@example.com, 907-274-9698; or director Paula Cullenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org, 907-274-9692.
Next month will mark the third Kodiak Area Marine Science Symposium, held at the Kodiak Harbor Convention Center.
Sponsored by Alaska Sea Grant, KAMSS provides an opportunity for Kodiak residents to hear about marine research conducted in the area. Researchers also benefit as they plan integrated, cooperative, and community-inspired marine research. Marine Advisory agent Julie Matweyou chairs the organizing committee.
The events will kick off with an evening keynote address on Tuesday, April 18. Plenary sessions will be held April 19–21 throughout the day, with evening social events and posters, as well as field trips late Friday afternoon and Saturday.
Russ Hopcroft, University of Alaska Fairbanks; and Olav Ormseth, NOAA Fisheries, are invited speakers. This year about 25 talks will be presented, and each session will be followed by a discussion to engage participants in what’s going on in Kodiak waters.
Registration is free. See the KAMSS event website for more information and to register.
Sixteen high school teams from across Alaska met in Seward on February 16 to compete in an ocean-based academic competition, the Tsunami Bowl.
The regional competition is part of the National Ocean Sciences Bowl which engages students in ocean sciences, preparing them for ocean-related and other STEM (science-technology-engineering-math) careers, and helping them become knowledgeable stewards of the marine environment.
Alaska is the only region requiring students to write a research paper and give an oral presentation before competing in the buzzer-style quiz bowl. The 2017 theme was “Resource Management in a Warming Pacific.”
“My team had a ton of fun and learned a lot!” said Melissa Good, Unalaska coach and Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory agent. “We have three freshmen, a junior, and a senior this year. The freshmen are anxious to start learning more about marine sciences, even asking for study materials that they can use to get ready for next year, and our senior will be attending the University of Alaska Fairbanks this fall and is interested in pursuing marine biology.”
Good’s team, the “Lucky Pollucky,” placed 9th overall.
Marine Advisory agent Sunny Rice coached the “Higher Porpoise” team in Petersburg, who came in 8th overall. “They did very well on their presentation,” said Rice. “They had a great time.”
Regional winners go on to compete at the national bowl. This year’s Alaska winners, the “Mat-Tsunamis” from the Mat-Su Career and Technical High School, will compete in the 20th National Ocean Sciences Bowl in Corvallis, Oregon, in April.
Alaska Sea Grant will sponsor several events at the 2017 ComFish Alaska fishing industry trade show, scheduled for March 30–April 1 in Kodiak. Marine Advisory agent Julie Matweyou, who sits on the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce committee that organizes ComFish, has arranged both indoor and outdoor events.
Alaska Sea Grant will host Tim Troll, executive director of the Bristol Bay Land Trust. Troll will give a presentation about his photo exhibit of pre-1950s fishing sailboats in Bristol Bay, on display at the Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center. A reception for the Sailing for Salmon Photo Exhibit will begin March 31 at 5 pm at the center, and the show will continue through April.
In another ComFish talk, Matweyou will show fishermen how they can use online FishBiz financial tools to enhance their business.
Matweyou and program assistant Astrid Rose are organizing the annual Fishermen’s Showcase, an outdoor event featuring a competition and demonstrations to highlight fishing skills such as knot tying, rope coiling and survival suit donning. “Kodiak fishermen will demonstrate what it takes to be successful in their operations and compete for the honor of the most able fisherman,” said Matweyou. A video of the 2016 Fishermen’s Showcase is viewable on the ComFish Facebook page.
Also outside, Arthur Schultz, an instructor with the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association, will deploy a surplus life raft. Fishermen will have the opportunity to imagine themselves in an emergency situation on their own vessels, with safety improvement in mind.
The Kodiak community and visitors are invited to participate in many other ComFish Alaska events as well. For a full schedule of events see the ComFish Facebook page.
If you’re going, be sure to drop by the Alaska Sea Grant–Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center booth to chat with faculty and staff.
To enhance growth of the US aquaculture industry, National Sea Grant is seeking applicants for two opportunities for aquaculture projects.
For the “Addressing Impediments to Aquaculture Opportunities Initiative,” applicants for funding can propose small scale projects, business plans, workshops, etc. With $3 million available nationwide for fiscal years 2017 and 2018, investigators can request up to $150,000.
A second opportunity is “Integrated Projects to Increase Aquaculture Production.” Up to $12 million is expected to be available for fiscal years 2017-2019, and individual proposals may request between $100,000 and $1,000,000.
For Alaska-specific instructions please see the announcement for the NOAA Sea Grant 2017 Aquaculture Initiative.
Alaska Sea Grant has launched a blog to help tell what’s going on in our program. More than 15 stories, from Icelandic fisherwomen to survival suit races, have been posted since the blog began in December. We hope you enjoy the stories and photos on the Alaska Sea Grant blog, as well as our Alaska Sea Grant Facebook posts and Alaska Sea Grant Tweets.