Archive for April, 2009

Alaskan Fishing Permits: Fishy Toxic Assets?

April 30, 2009

permit-ones

AKM’s post about 2009 fishing limits was picked up by the Huffington Post today. It should be front page news but, at least they are paying attention. 

One comment there seems to add another dimension to the complex universe of Alaskan fisheries. “TheRubberRoomHotel” posted a comment about commercial fishing permits 

AKM, Thanks for bringing this to national attention.

It would be so nice if our new administration could take notice of this. My community is already facing so much hardship with the cost of fuel and goods. This will impact it very badly. The sad thing is that people who have commercial permits here paid a great deal of money for them, sometimes upward of 60 thousand dollars, and they are no longer worth the paper they are written on.

Very sad time in Alaska indeed. 

To see the pollock industry talk about not making enough profit  and then hear statements like this, from a village where a whole community might lose its livelihood and investment to assure the profitability of the pollock industry, just does not seem right. 

To see villages dry up because what has kept them going for more generations than most can count, was pulled out from under them for profit – somehow there has to be a reckoning. 

Please share your fishing permitting woes, stories of hardship because of the limits last year and what you are facing in the coming months. Tell us what topics we should be addressing here! 

Quyana Cakneq!

Rural Alaska Fuel Tanks: Fill ‘em Up!

April 29, 2009
oilAlaska’s First Oil Refinery in Kenai

Apr 29, 2009

By now you’ve probably read that the Chinook (King) Salmon run is expected to be even worse in summer 2009 than it was in 2008.

From the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

Chinook salmon returns in 2007 and 2008 were unexpectedly weak and ADF&G scientists believe the 2009 return will be below average or poor as well.  A small return of Chinook salmon will impose hardships on subsistence, commercial, personal use, and recreational harvesters, because of the central importance of Chinook salmon for both personal consumption and commercial harvest.

AKM sums it up as only she can over at the Mudflats so we won’t even take a shot at it here.

We watch as salmon fisheries are closed, and as residents worry they will not have enough food.  We watch as we put ourselves in danger of violating an international treaty.  We watch as private citizens try to organize food drives, and as the governor shows up with food provided by a religious organization, and a plate of cookies as a way to make this all better.

Limits on subsistence and commercial fishing will once again be imposed and it will difficult for our Neighbors to harvest enough salmon to store for winter and sell for cash to buy fuel. Sound Familiar?

Victoria did the best she could on our behalf at the bycatch meeting to prevent this but…

Maybe it’s time to turn our attention to the other cause of the crisis of 2008. The rivers froze before the tanks were full of fuel for the winter.

In a state that profits from favoring the oil industry over the environment, it is shameful that people are paying such high prices for fuel and that villages, such as Nunam Iqua, are running out cooking oil/heating fuel before the end of winter.

The rivers froze early – that was unexpected. They were expected to freeze at some point! Villages should be required to have their shipments delivered and their tanks full weeks before the earliest freeze recorded.

Any ideas how we can help get fuel to rural Alaska earlier and at lower prices? If there are as many boards and agencies involved in energy issues as there are in fishing issues, we got our work cut out!

 

Victoria: To Us – This Was TOTALLY Unexpected

April 28, 2009

Apr 28, 2009


e8f7479a7f1A dramatic change in less than two weeks*

We were standing on a hillside near our home, looking out over the river on Saturday afternoon. Hubby, a guest and I were talking about the river and how this winter had been so much colder than normal and yet so little snow.

Our guess, especially since I had just traveled over it on Tuesday, less than a week earlier, was that it would be at least a week before it would be ‘breaking out’.

Normally it is right around the very end of April or the first of May before we start to see holes in the ice or the river flowing.

We usually go through days or even a week or more of open holes and areas of water. Then some breaking up of the river. We woke up Sunday morning, after a night of some winds in the 20-30 knot range and the river was flowing some.

COULD NOT believe it. Hubby, who grew up in the village does not ever remember it going from basically solid to flowing like this.

It will be a week or so, if normal, before the ice and everything is totally unplugged and flowing freely. We have an incoming and out going tides so ice will travel back and forth for a bit. If the winds blow from the SE it will assist the ice getting out into the bay, Bristol. The opposite will keep ice choking up the river.

We also have 4′-8′ of ice build up on river bank that will need to be cleaned out before we will have access to the water safely.

* * *

Spring has arrived!!

~ Jane

Gubernatorial Q & A: Alaskan Fishing – Who’s Responsible for What?

April 27, 2009

Apr 27, 2009

Another discussion that is too important to get buried in the comments section of another post:

Yesterday Elsie posted these questions as part of a comment about CDQ’ on the Bob Poe thread:

My questions:

On the surface, the new regulation requiring all the CDQs to publish an annual report would appear, to me, to be a significant improvement towards illuminating the secrecy of the financial workings of the CDQs—perhaps, in the best of all possible worlds, even affecting the elections of their board members. What’s the reality for expecting any meaningful, measurable improvements that will benefit the villagers in dealing openly with management of the CDQs and having a real say in how things are run and the money generated is spent? Have any of you seen a discussion of this anywhere?

Read from here down and you can skip the rest of this post.

Rob Rosenfeld replied in part:

CDQ groups have received their guidelines for operating from the State and Federal regulating entities. State and Federal entities are required to engage in meaningful consultation with Tribal Governments. Tribal Governments have a unique opportunity to demand their place at real and meaningful decision making tables. . .

. . . Consultation with tribal governments can not be a game of make pretend. The word, “meaningful” is the operative word.

Read the rest of the comment.

That got Elsie thinking:

Something that occurs to me is how absolutely wonderful it would be for a conscientious, knowledgeable person to draw up a comprehensive diagram of the interrelationships between the many various federal agencies, the Alaskan state agencies, the tribal governmental entities, the local municipalities, the ancillary organizations, and whatever the heck else is set up to govern, lead, control, direct, finance, assist, or engage the citizens of Alaska.

She must have taken a shot at it herself and now she’s put on her crown and become the Queen of the Question Mark!!

For example, to continue with my desire to understand the governmental structures, who all controls the fisheries? Let’s just start THERE!!!

The U.S. Dept. of Commerce is at the top of the list, I think, and holds ultimate authority over all the fisheries. How effective is THAT? How long does it take for Alaskans to send in a plan or receive a decision? If a “no” decision comes back, how many years does it take to implement a new decision? How badly does that time lag affect the fisheries if they are being overfished already?

Down from that, of several fishery management councils, isn’t the North Pacific Fishery Management Council the section of oversight, from three miles out to 200 miles offshore, for Alaska fisheries? But aren’t most of those same NPFMC board members out of Seattle and run large commercial pollock/other big operations? Doesn’t that “stack the deck” against the many small, one boat-type, local Alaskan fishing groups?

And there’s more!

And before I even finished this post, Rob Rosenfeld has responded with answers!!

Update from Alakanuk, Pilot Point and Nunam Iqua!

April 25, 2009

Apr 25, 2009

***From Alakanuk***

The Alakanuk Food Drive is slowly getting going.  They have received a few boxes and some cash donations.  As I have mentioned Alakanuk is the village between Nunam Iqua and Emmonak.  Here is some information supplied to me by the Tribal Administrator:

 

Alakanuk Population Break down:

 

Population total:                        700+ residents

Number of households:             200 (approximately)

Children (under 16 years):         376

Elders (65 and older):               79

 

Thanks to the efforts of Rep. Ramras’ efforts and the Food Bank of Alaska every household received a box of food.  Additionally, thanks to the Food Drive 7 boxes of food were distributed to elders, widowed, widowed with children, households with no employment.  Two households were helped with stove oil.  Here is where the food donations were received from:

 

Chattanooga, TN

Black Diamond, WA

Richmond, VA

LaCrosse, WI

Sugarloaf, CA

Los Angeles, CA

Salem, OR

Loxahatchee, FL

NYC, NY

 

Stove oil donations were received from:

 

Seattle, WA

Wasilla, AK

Santa Clara, CA

 

Quyana Cakneq Mudpups and Anonymous Bloggers for your help!!!

I am concerned that school will be getting out soon (Mid May) and there will be a lot more mouths to feed at home with the kids not receiving school breakfasts and lunches.  The Yukon is still in the grips of winter and the river ice won’t break up until mid to Late May.  During break up the only means of travel will be by plane, assuming the flooding isn’t so bad that it closes the runways/airports down which has happened a lot in the past.  You can find information on how to help Alakanuk and the other villages on Anonymous Bloggers (http://anonymousbloggers.wordpress.com) under the how to help section on the side bar on the right hand side of the page.

 

***From Pilot Point***

The food has been getting out even when I have been slow to get this recap to you. It as been a crazy schedule lately with lots of twists and turns on things that MUST all come first!

It looks like spring is trying its darnest to arrive here on the Alaska Peninsula and with that brings the normal hopes of good salmon season. We are forecasted to have a less than average sized run, which does happen in the normal cycle of fishing, so most will be working hard to make the best of every single chance.

(As I was feeding the chickens this evening a group Sandhill cranes flew over – soooooo low and calling. Just a group of about 20 but all the signs of spring are creeping up on us!! Makes being here easy on days like this!)

We had a mail break for a bit due to the volcano but at this point it looks like things are moving again near normal.

IF I missed anyone’s box please email me and I will double check all the lists we have-

1 box from TF – Salem, OR

2 boxes from “Ford”- Kenai, AK

4 boxes from TT- Juneau, AK

2 boxes from kids – HI

1 box KL –Arcata, CA

3 boxes from M O’C– Pacifica, CA

1 box form LB – Anchorage, AK

1 box from VR – Sugarloaf, CA

4 boxes from JH — Medina, ND

2 boxes from Toon- Cape E, ME

4 boxes from K O’C— Buena Park, CA

How do I let you know that all the extra and special things you have included are great?

The extras for Easter were used as center pieces for an Easter potluck the entire village had recently. Anything that could be shared with more than one group has been in some way.

Art supplies that came in for our kids went immediately to the kids! Teachers were thrilled to get the fun things sent. Kids will be when they get done testing and get to have fun.

The special soaps, great dried goods, marinades, nuts, coffees, teas, hot chocolates, spices, special jams, toothpaste, rice mixes, sauces, Vit C packs, candies and crackers have all helped to give variety for everyone and comments of it was “like getting Christmas”. Making sure we had the basics to stay healthy of dried milk, dried fruits and veggies, although less glamorous but appreciated. Have those heavy items like flour, sugar, salt let our elders and those people with more time to bake. Yeast and vanilla flavoring are other goodies that are hard to get in some of our villages and in the future we will have to share with you as to why. Hold either Ann or I to it if we forget:-)

Our kids are out of school soon, May 10th I believe, and we will have all those kids at home for meals. We are getting those families set up with a little more for those extra mouths and meals.

WITH SPRING ALSO COMES THE START UP OF EMPLOYMENT IN PILOT POINT AND UGASHIK. To the best of my understanding there are a number of projects that will need people, along with our normal commercial fishing. Normally everyone who is able to work is working in our villages in one capacity or another.

We have not heard what fuel costs will be with the spring barge but the hope is they will stay low into the summer so we can take advantage of that lower price.

Our temperatures are starting to slowly warm up to above freezing most days, letting up on the demand for fuel some.

We will need to CLOSE PILOT POINT’S FOOD DRIVE BY MAY 25th. As much as the residents appreciate the assistance we know that trying to manage this when all the visitors and fishermen are in town would be disastrous! We have been letting everyone in the village know that so it does not catch anyone off guard.

Our plans are being finalized for the community garden.

Our hope is to do two things.

We will be planting some common area for people who want to come, donate some time, and they will be able to take food home with them.

Also we will prep an area and give assistance and seeds to those who would like it to plant some for themselves.

Our hope is to get as many people who want to learn or be involved as possible. Tools and some seeds for people will be provided.

IF you want to help with this effort when mailing the food packages slip in a pack or two of seeds so we can share with more villagers.

We are still low on;

cabbage

beans- bush

peas – bush or short trellis

onions

radishes

spinach

Watch for our updates and we will do our best to show you ALL that we do in the spring and summer. I can tell you we are gaining about 5 minutes a day right now in light and I know most of us wish we gained that much extra energy too:-))!!

- Victoria B

 

***From Nunam Iqua***


Our food drive really slowed down.  I think part of the reason might be because of the mail issues we had when Mt. Redoubt was acting up.  Signs of spring are slowly starting to start here on the Yukon.  Our temperatures are staying above freezing some and all this snow is starting to melt.  The Yukon River is still frozen, making it possible for us to travel to favorite ice fishing areas and fish for Pike and Tom cods.

 

I just found out that Nunam Iqua has run out of  stove oil.  The Tribal Fuel Sales has run out.  The City of Nunam Iqua is crunching the numbers to see how much excess they can spare without affecting the power plant or the water plant.  The plan is that the City will release 1,000 to 3,000 gallons of stove oil for the Elders and villagers that do not have the ability to travel upriver and buy stove oil.  Those of us that can make the trip to Alakanuk and Emmonak will purchase our stove oil from there to last through break up.

 

The reason why Nunam Iqua ran out of stove oil is due to the early freeze up last fall.  Our last fuel barge that was supposed to leave up from upriver couldn’t because the river froze up.  Usually Nunam Iqua always runs out of gas but this is the first time we have run out of stove oil.  Not  having our tanks topped off last fall to make it through the winter is the cause.  Now keep in mind that this is a common occurrence in bush Alaska.  As evident by the Emmonak Crisis.  But an early freeze up definitely caused a whole lot of problems this winter.  Bush villages frequently have to come up with creative solutions working together to avert things like this from affecting the residents too much.  But we always seem to manage one way or another.  This winter it was with the help from wonderful bloggers help!

 

So with that issue looming over Nunam right now I am concerned with families having enough food to make it through break up.  Because not only will they be having to spend extra money on gas to go get stove oil but also school is getting out here in a couple of weeks and there will be more mouths at home to feed.  No school = no school breakfasts and lunches that families will have more food needs.

 

If you have already adopted a family here in Nunam Iqua Quyana Cakneq!  If you’d like to adopt a family and send boxes directly to them send me an email and I’ll hook ya up with a needy family and their address/family size/needs.

Now onto the update on boxes.  Since April 13 I have received over 301 lbs of food for the food drive:

One box from Honolulu, HI

One box from Auburn, WA

One box from Grand Ledge, MI

Three boxes from Everett, WA (Quyana my best friend of 25 yrs Lisa!!)

Two boxes from Ketchikan, AK

One box from Eden Prairie, MN

Three boxes from Euless, TX

One box from Rochester, NH

Two boxes from Kent, WA

One box from Portland, OR

One box from Salem, OR

Three boxes from Oakland, CA

And one box of Yarn from Juneau, AK (Quyana Martha UYS!)

And two boxes from Cape Elizabeth, ME (Quyana Lil Ms. Sophie!)

 

Also I received cash donations from:

 

McLean, VA and W. Bridgewater, MA

 

Quyana for your continued help and support of Nunam Iqua, Alakanuk and Pilot Point!

Nunam Iqua heating fuel/stove oil tank runs dry

April 24, 2009

nunam-from-river

Nunam Still in the grips of winter and now out of
stove oil/heating fuel due to early freeze up and no fall fuel barge!

In this evening from AnnS:

Nunam Iqua ran out of heating fuel/stove oil for the residents here.

Then more information:

I just got off the phone with Alakanuk and Emmonak they are selling stove oil to out-of-towners (meaning anyone not living there) but they are limiting it to:

Alakanuk 20 gallons per household/person

Emmonak 10 gallons per household/person

We are going to have to go upriver and try to get enough to make it through break up.

I asked how we could help and she replied:

Did I mention that we ran out b/c we didn’t get our last fuel barge in b/c of early freeze up?

I don’t have any short term solutions to offer other than pray at this point Jane.  I can’t authorize donations for other village fuel sales. Plus this is the first time we have run out of stove oil before winter was over, usually we run out of gas.

More tomorrow – stay tuned!

Those villagers shouldn’t have cut down all those trees last week!

~ Jane

*UPDATE*

Read Ann’s update HERE to see the latest news on the heating oil situation!

Rob Rosenfeld on Renewable Energy

April 23, 2009

Rob Rosenfeld posted the following comment on our renewable energy thread. Rather than leave it buried there I’m bringing it forward.

Spring is coming to the bush and bringing with it jobs and a return to a cash economy. We will watch with interest how Ann and Vic’s lives change with the season. We will also be shifting our discussion to ways to prevent another winter like this from happening.

Please keep this thread on the topic of renewable energy. If you would like Rob’s views on another topic, let him know and we’ll start other threads. ~ Jane

There is no “silver bullet” for renewable energy

rob-rosenfeld4It is good to see this discussion happening. Check out the December addition of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council newsletter to see photos and a write up on hydrokinetic (hydroelectric) unit that was installed in Ruby, Alaska on the Yukon River last summer. It is a 5kw unit and has already produced energy. The YRITWC now has funds secured to install a 25kw unit. I have worked for the YRITWC for 12 years. Eleven years has been as the Director in Alaska. I am pleased to say that the tribes are breaking new ground.

There is no “silver bullet” for renewable energy. Therefore we need to diversify as much as possible. I will be talking a great deal about how to do this during my run for Governor of Alaska.

The Natural Gas pipeline is one important ingredient to the solution. Additionally, we should take propane off the pipeline in strategic locations and barge the propane to communities that live on interior Alaskan Rivers. I checked with one of the major barge companies and they see this as viable.

We also need to develop wave, tidal and hydro energy and utilize as much wind and solar as possible. Biofuels will create many jobs and provide energy as well. Willows grow fast in Alaska and can be turned into chips and pellets for burning. The old discarded fuel tanks can be used for storage of the pellets at times.

Let’s keep talking about what is possible.

Rob Rosenfeld is a Democratic candidate for governor of Alaska

Nunam Iqua Games & Hawaii 2nd graders (Punahou) donate

April 23, 2009
lap-game-1Lap Game in Nunam Iqua

Apr 23, 2009

We asked Ann to send some random pictures so we can gain a better understanding of life in her village:

This is a photo of about 20 Nunam kids playing “Lap Game” on Swan Lake, which runs right through the middle of the village. They sure were having fun for about 3 hours last night!

“Lap Game” is the Alaska Native version of baseball.   They have teams and one team hits and then they all run after the ball .  Last night, the bat was an old axe handle. They put their best runners in the center of the field. The opposing team tries to remove opposing players by touching or hitting them with the ball.  That is a sketchy explanation!

I found the lesson plan of a school teacher from a rural Alaska school district that describes the lap game in detail.

I also ran across a mention of it in a book about students in six classrooms around the country that carry on conversations over the Internet. It just happened that Google Book’s limited excerpt of Internet Communication in Six Classrooms is chapters about exchanges between a school in Joliet, Illinois and a school in Tununak, Alaska.

I live in Tununak and I am Yupik. I play basketball and we play football and sometimes we play lap game [a game similar to baseball brought to Alaska  by reindeer herders from Lapland in the 1930s, and played with a bat and a soft ball; when a batter hits the ball, players attempt to run to the far end of a field and back without the opposing team hitting them with the ball]. And sometimes we go hunting with my big brother and Francis is my cousin. And sometimes I catch geese. Sometimes I go fishing and sometimes I watch cartoons and a scary movie. (Gerald)

HAWAII 2nd Graders donate to the food drive!

A while back AKM, mayor of the Mudflats, wrote a post about a second grade class in Punahou, Hawaii that collected food and toys for the second graders in Nunam Iqua and Pilot Point:

I read about your plight on Mudflats and Anonymous Bloggers and spoke with the kids about your circumstances. They wanted to help. We have collected food and hope it helps. We also want all of you in your village to know people from different cultures and lands care about you. We, like you, live isolated from the rest of the world and supplies must come by ship or plane. We understand your plight. This world is a lot closer/smaller than it seems. Thank goodness for the internet.

kids2

This shrinking, melting planet needs more stories like this! There’s so much promise in the connectivity the Internet can bring to this young generation.

~ Jane

Read Victoria’s garden conference update – composting.

hitting them with the ball.
 

They were sure having fun for about 3 hours last night playing!

Bob Poe: Let’s Hope They’re Right

April 22, 2009

bob-poe2

By Bob Poe

Earlier this month in Anchorage, the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council was faced with the Solomonic choice between maintaining the lucrative Bering Sea Pollock fishery and significantly reducing Chinook bycatch to restore salmon runs in the Yukon and Kuskokwim rivers.

 

Residents of western Alaskan villages like Emmonak, Kotlik and Nunam Iqua were hopeful the Council would make real reductions in allowable salmon bycatch.  Commercial salmon fishing is one of the only ways to earn cash in villages along the Yukon and Kuskokwim.  Recent low Chinook returns combined with record high fuel prices forced some western Alaska residents this year to choose between heating their homes and feeding their families.

 

To read the entire post 0r post a comment, click HERE

****

I received a Facebook friend request from Alaska gubernatorial candidate, Bob Poe. When I accepted, he replied with this article  about bycatch issues in the Yukon Delta fishery. He offered his permission to print it at anonymous bloggers.  Additionally, Mr. Poe has expressed an interest in listening to my input, and that from all of us here at anonymous bloggers, in addressing issues facing rural Alaska. 

I  look  forward to working with not only Mr. Poe, but all current and future elected officials in building more sustainable bush communities.  

Vic: Over the river and through the…oops, we don’t have woods!

April 22, 2009

active-volcano-20-miles-from-uga

Active volcano 25 miles from Ugashik

This was written to AnnS and a few of others who help us keep all this going. They thought I should share this with all of you as this is a pretty ‘normal’ thing for those of us in the villages. With a little editing and name changing, as they really do like to be ‘behind the scenes’ here is a quick insight to our village life.  -Victoria

***

Am back in Ugashik, safe and licked from head to toe by the four-leggeds. (hubby is out or I MIGHT have gotten a kiss from him too:-)

Headed over to Pilot Point yesterday for a check up as I have been having some leftovers from that cold I caught in Anchorage. Since I am home alone a fair amount right now, husband’s job takes him away, we thought it was best to be safe and not wait.

It was kind of last minute and just grabbed a plane ride from our borough mayor who also is a pilot and owns a local airline from the northern part of the borough. (He was down waiting for the fog to clear so he could take a villager who serves on the borough school board, picking up other board members as they head up for a meeting in the northern part of the borough. I just happened to hear him speak to someone about where it was best to “wait it out” on the VhF that connects all of us in the area. I gave him a call on the radio and it was arranged.)

Went through the whole medical exam and looks like I have something that be handled by some medicine and a little time.

We will see.

(The clinic staff, 2 people, had been up in the wee hours the night before handling a medical emergency-life flight, which looks like will turn out fine from the little I even know about it, so did not want to alert them I was coming until it was for sure.)

Got the email box pretty much cleaned down – you have all been busy.

I want to be in on that conference call for businesses – hint, hint Ann:-))
Miss J – something told me to get you some extra stories, now glad I did.
Ann S – such an artist and jokester
Miss AK- GLAD you posted the art – made my morning!!
Miss FL- got the holiday box as I was heading out – am reading and explaining to those who help me. So fun.
TT- Got Miss S box with rice, chocolate and art supplies!!! Art supplies went to preschool class this morning and hopes are to get pictures tomorrow doing at least painting. Thrilled, was kids reaction.

Got a whole bunch of other boxes with goodies for so many.
Will work on an update but things were greatly received. Was able to get a good-sized bag out to everyone and also to the two (and a part) families we have added in the last few weeks.

Came home via the overland route, lake and marsh trail – interesting and worth a whole story on its own – BUT imagine;

Started off with pea soup fog this morning.
Cleared to bright blue over head but still foggy all around us, but 22 degrees.
Decided to risk the overland lake and river trails versus being fogged in for a second day.
Loaded up two four wheelers with the food bags for UGA people and my stuff.
Got geared up with rain boots up to knees and borrowed warm pants.
Got ready and took off – fog cleared.
Mountains, only 25 miles away all snow covered and BRIGHT blue sky.
Travel across snow and ice covered lakes and melting swamps (browns, dull greens and lots of moss)
Two tundra swans take off right in front of us.
Saw Sand-hill cranes, ducks, geese and seagulls on our way home.
GREAT day despite icy water to the mid calf and a bruised butt going over all the tundra moguls!

***

I KNOW we are telling you it is NOT safe to be traveling right now on the ice, rivers, and lakes BUT I had ‘kids’ – 4 legged, and chickens at home that needed care.

I went with two men who grew up in the area, had been traveling the last few days back and forth. THEY did agree after they got me home and then back home themselves, WE ARE DONE. We all made it safe BUT the river, in getting on and off, is getting too darn dangerous. Say your blessing and count your good luck, there is plenty of fishing season to risk your neck to be doing it on the ice any longer.

~ Victoria


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