Archive for the ‘Fishing’ Category

The Long Quiet Here…

July 17, 2012

has nothing to do with intent and everything to do with the way-too-much-to-do-in-such-a-short-time aspect of Alaskan summers.

We’re working on catch up posts.

See you soon!

Bristol Bay

CDQ 101

January 8, 2012

We are  approaching the  first decennial  review of CDQ entities after  2006 changes to the law governing the Community Development Quota program and entities took effect.

UgaVic and I hope to talk about a number of the issues surrounding CDQs and the upcoming review in the coming weeks.

We thought it might be best to start  with a very basic overview of the CDQ program- to refresh the memory of those who know about it already, as well as   provide a framework for those who have never heard of it.

Setting the blade on high and risking leaving some very rough patches as I blaze over the subject but hoping to be somewhat inclusive of any folks who have never heard of CDQs I will make a flying run at it all.
CDQ, Community Development Quota , is the federal legislative response to concern by small communities on the Bering Sea in relation to their ability to partake in the catch share programs in federal waters off the coast they live on.
The law established that a percentage of  yearly allowable catch , in multiple fisheries, be set aside for these villages who could not and would not be eligible for shares under the rules established for allocation of shares otherwise because of their historical lack of presence in the fisheries . (Their lack of presence , the whys, hows, and wherefores is a piece of the whole but needs a post by itself) )
Six regional non-profits were organized to manage the monies derived from the profits the sales of the set aside quota made. The ones I’ve had occasion to cross paths with are organized as 501(c)(4)s -social welfare-but I have never checked to see if all six are. Member villages  have representatives in the regional corporations. Each CDQ entity has bylaws governing how those representatives are chosen.
As often happens, the term CDQ began to stand for the organizations themselves as well as the program  so there’s a lot of flinging around of the term which gets confusing.
The law required that all CDQs have Community Development Plans and limited investments , outside of monies earmarked for education opportunities for stakeholders in their villages, to fishery infrastructure and support related projects.
It also required yearly state oversight of the CDPs to see if  intent and reality matched
Within a few years , some of the CDQs started fishing their own quota rather than receiving the monies  from sale of their quota, by investing as partners in other companies or buying their own boats/ships/processor companies. This was hailed as win-win as they  were then in the position of being able to provide employment opportunities to their stakeholders as well.
Along the way , the law was changed to drop yearly state oversight, lengthen reporting time between CDPs,  and allow for some non-fisheries related investment amongst other changes.
Some CDQs now  have large for-profit corporations  which operate as “feeders” of monies to the parent non-profits.There have been wrangles over how much information the “feeders” do or do not share with their parent non-profits and stakeholders, as well as how much  information the CDQ entities must share with their stakeholders .

People ask about  what  the real benefits to CDQ communities are/ might be – it’s not simple to answer.
Many of the metrics used to measure benefit fall into what I think of as taking the temperature of the picture of the people on the box the thermometer came in.
They are measures of dollars piled up, spread around, employment figures without full context, glossies of completed projects, and so on.

The current  law says :

(H) DECENNIAL REVIEW AND ADJUSTMENT OF ENTITY ALLOCATIONS.—

(i) IN GENERAL.—During calendar year 2012 and every 10 years thereafter, the State of Alaska shall evaluate the performance of each entity participating in the program based on the criteria described in clause (ii).

(ii) CRITERIA.—The panel shall establish a system to be applied under this subparagraph that allows each entity participating in the program to assign relative

values to the following criteria to reflect the particular needs of its villages:

(I) Changes during the preceding 10-year period in population, poverty level, and economic development in the entity’s member villages.

(II) The overall financial performance of the entity, including fishery and nonfishery investments by the entity.

(III) Employment, scholarships, and training supported by the entity.

(IV) Achieving of the goals of the entity’s community development plan.

At this point, the State of Alaska is attempting to develop a way to evaluate performance and looking to funding to perform the review.

Many stakeholders in member villages feel that the weaknesses identified in this 1999 report have never been addressed and should be integrated in meaningful measure in the upcoming evaluation process.

“Perhaps the greatest weakness of the CDQ program as implemented is lack of open, consistent communication between the CDQ groups and the communities they represent, particularly a lack of mechanisms for substantial input from the communities into the governance structures. There has also been a lack of outreach by the state to the communities to help ensure that the communities are aware of the program and how to participate. Some controversy has surrounded the uncertainty about the intended beneficiaries of the program—essentially, whether the program is intended primarily for the Native Alaskan residents of the participating communities, and, if not, review the governance structures to ensure that non-native participation is possible. “

I think stakeholders are correct here. Accepting what these CDQ entities say about their own performance, weighted at their own discretion, creates  a very narrow window on what might be called “success” .

With that in mind, I do not think we will be able to judge clearly whether the CDQs are really benefitting their communities if we cannot extend or adjust the way we measure success and benefit to include criteria for judgment not normally employed by “blue ribbon panels”  or self interested self-reporting.

Stakeholders and their communities , the supposed beneficiaries of “success’ must have  a place at the table, a part in the evaluation process, for the process to be credible.

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postscript 

 I have skipped right on by anything to do with the uproar over CDQs participating in trawl fisheries which are suspected of damaging other fisheries including subsistence fishing but it is an important aspect of questioning real benefit as well

Lake and Pen Borough results due- UPDATED

October 17, 2011

The results of the municipal election in the Lake and Peninsula Borough for 2 Assembly seats, 2 school district seats, and the Save Our Salmon initiative are due later today.

The ADN is saying results should be posted online by 10 PM this evening and that turnout was high as expected.

Update:

In unofficial results, the Save Our Salmon initiative passed in the Lake and Peninsula Borough 280 to 246. The Borough Assembly is due to certify the election results at it’s October 24th meeting.

 Alaska’s Dispatch’s Amanda Coyne reports on the results and background of the initiative  as does  Sean Cockerham at the ADN in the updated  article linked above.

If only it was simple. Pebble mine.

September 25, 2011

We have municipal  elections coming up  October 4.

In my area, we are considering a number of propositions and will vote to fill Assembly seats.

Folks all around the state will be making similar decisions for their communities about who will represent them and how they will conduct their community business. In many respects and if we are organized under home rule charter, we get to make more decisions at the local level than people do in most other states .

News and comment about the “Save our Salmon ” initiative which is on the ballot in the Lake and Peninsula Borough has been heavy in recent days. Pebble Prospect, Mine, Whatever, is on state land situated in the Lake and Pen Borough

The seemingly simple language to amend Lake and Pen’s planning code is not simple at all, in any respect, and has caught the attention of people all over the state and Outside because of the issues surrounding the proposed Pebble Mine.
View this document on Scribd

I asked friends in the Lake and Pen Borough how and what was going on locally.

If the deluge of scanned mailers which hit my inbox in response could make a sound it would have been along the order of a huge ARGGGHHHH!

My first response, looking at all the mailers, was all the things my ma used to say when she was trying not to swear: Egads! Gadzooks! Crimenently! and Pfffttt!

Most of this kind of campaign stuff is of no use whatsover in helping people make informed voting decisions but it sure whups up emotions and, too often, leaves lingering damage to reputations and  resentments between neighbors, as well as muddying issues in general.

There are a lot of eyes watching this initiative vote and following some of the news about it. The proposed Pebble mine is scaring the bejabbers out of many like me who fear we have really done nothing in this state to develop a clear and complete framework which does what this initiative proposes to do-which is to say no to large  resource extraction development projects which pose clear dangers to salmon habitat and clean water.

The basic declaration of  Mineral Development Policies  of the State of Alaska  has some appearance of  balancing water and habitat interests but vesting DNR , Department of Natural Resources , with lead authority :

Alaska Statute – Title 27. Mining. Chapter 05. Administration and Services. Article 1. Department of Natural Resources. Section 27.05.010. Department responsible for mineral resources.

(a)The department has charge of all matters affecting exploration, development, and mining of the mineral resources of the state, the collection and dissemination of all official information relative to the mineral resources, and mines and mining projects of the state, and the administration of the laws with respect to all kinds of mining.

(b) The department is the lead agency for all matters relating to the exploration, development, and management of mining, and, in its capacity as lead agency, shall coordinate all regulatory matters concerning mineral resource exploration, development, mining, and associated activities. Before a state agency takes action that may directly or indirectly affect the exploration, development, or management of mineral resources, the agency shall consult with and draw upon the mining expertise of the department.

has in reality made for a cockeyed view of what could be said to be balance between mineral extraction and fish and wildlife habitat and water uses. Unlike many other states, Alaska does not house Fish and Game within Natural Resources so Fish and Game issues don’t really have equal footing with mineral development. The acceptance within DNR of industry notions of what constitutes appropriate mitigation, remediation or recompense, blah, blah, blah for noncompliance or failure on the part of the extraction companies fails to fully encompass what could be said to at stake, especially as relates the huge plan for Pebble.

The complaint filed by six Tribal Councils of federally recognized tribes against the State, DNR, and then Commissioner of DNR Tom Irwin is an excellent read in the frustrations Alaskans have with DNR as relates to minerals v other uses and well worth the time to really look at.

The repeated use of the term ad hoc
1. 
done for particular purpose: done or set up solely in response to a specific situation or problem, without considering wider or longer-term issues

in the complaint is especially pointed and,  to my mind, valid as it relates to the cavalier appropriation and redefinition of so many terms  defined elsewhere in our laws to push mineral extraction in the 2005 BBAP, which as the complaint notes is ” the state’s principal land use plan for state lands in the Bristol Bay area .”

After the usual initial flurry of motions and a couple of hearings the complaint sits as an undisposed and  open case over 2 years later and no one I know has a clue about what comes next.

The letter the Board of Fish sent to the Legislature , after hearing and denying a proposal  to establish a fish refuge in Bristol Bay  , was cause for some hope that the Legislature would move to really look at statutory framework  for mine permitting which addressed fish and water concerns from their own value as opposed to bits and pieces of a mining proposal. Money was appropriated but members of the Legislative council could not come to a common understanding about what to do  so they changed the focus of the study.

As an everyday person and  citizen of Alaska , this process has been wearing and disheartening  on so many levels. The Pebble Partnership has interjected itself in every step, every argument. Some of it is logical given its stake in the proposal, some of it is horsepunky. Along with specifics about this proposal,  Alaskans are trying to sort out overarching principles of balance between competing but concurrent uses of our lands and waters that we had not had to face before the Pebble Prospect reared its head. We take the idea that our resources should be managed for the benefit of all Alaskans very seriously but I don’t think we have ever had to look at the whys, whats, hows, of what could be called “benefit”, “all”, and so on with such a critical eye to what we might lose if we screw up.

Next: the initiative itself

Rocks and Water

August 12, 2011

Pebble is different from other Alaska mines 

by Kendra Zamzow

August 12, 2011

reprinted with permission from The Arctic Sounder

Alaska’s history is rich with mining, and every mine is different. Gold, copper, lead. But when it comes to the risk of contamination, differences in geology and hydrology – rocks and water – drive the risk. Pebble is different from other Alaska mines because of rocks and water.

Much of the mineral wealth at Pebble is encased in or tied to sulfide rocks. Miners won’t be extracting veins of copper, they’ll be crushing chalcopyrite – a mineral that is copper, iron, and sulfide all bonded together. Pyrites turn into sulfuric acid – battery acid. Some rock will go acid quickly, while Pebble Partnership geochemists predict some will take up to 40-60 years to go acid. This “acid drainage”, once it starts, can continue for hundreds, even thousands, of years.

That acid, in turn, dissolves trace metals – copper, zinc, lead, and so on – that are also present in the same rock. While the mining company will be doing their best to extract the copper, gold, and molybdenum, they won’t get all of it. What remains, along with trace amounts of other metals, are available for acid to dissolve and wash into the waterways. Additionally, very little of the rock in the area actually contains any valuable minerals – it’s more like a few specks of glitter in a handful of dirt than the veins of copper and gold miners of old followed. This means there will be a lot of waste rock. Much of it with sulfides like iron sulfide that will go acid.

Mitigation efforts, like putting the “problem rock” under water can limit the process that turns solid rock into sulfuric acid. At Pebble, there will be billions of tons of waste rock – a monumental task to sort out “problem rock” and vast areas dedicated to keeping the rock underwater. Forever.

Pebble dwarfs all the mines in Alaska put together. Mountains of waste rock will have snowmelt, rain, fog, and wind etching away at them, starting the acid reaction if the rock wasn’t sorted correctly, eroding particles with trace metals, washing out toxic elements like arsenic that don’t need acid to mobilize. Miles of tailings ponds containing the milling waste – a slurry of finely ground mineralized rock and processing chemicals – that will leach down into permeable gravels. Hopefully the contaminants will leach slowly enough that groundwater dilutes them, but that is an awful risk -groundwater feeds salmon spawning habitat.

Groundwater and surface water dance intimately in this area. Surface water goes underground and pops back up, groundwater travels under hills and from one watershed to another. Water is the bus those acid-dissolved contaminants are going to hitch a ride on.

It only takes tiny amounts of increased copper – parts per billion – to affect salmon, to lose their sense of smell which they use to identify predators, prey, mates, and their home stream. The future could be a slow decline, overlaid on the natural cyclical ups and downs of population returns.

The Fort Knox gold mine has beautiful rock, with lots of buffering capacity. Pebble is nothing like Fort Knox.

At Red Dog, waste rock was sorted – and rock that was supposedly neutral went acid after 17 years. At Pebble, it could be 60 years – possibly after the mine has closed – before anyone knows a mistake was made.

The Red Dog mine is on permafrost. Surface water and groundwater don’t mix. If acid dissolves contaminants, they will stay in the surface water, making them easier to detect. Pebble is nothing like Red Dog.

 The Kennecott Copper mine on the Copper River had sulfides, but also neutralizing rock. High grade copper veins -13 percent copper compared to Pebble’s 0.34 per cent – meant there was little waste. It would take over 2,000 Kennecott-sized mines to produce the same ore tonnage that is projected for Pebble. The Kennecott mine was high in the mountains, and salmon never used the Nizina and Chitina rivers near the Kennecott mine for spawning or rearing. Pebble is nothing like Kennecott.

The image of the Alaska miner is still that of a man with a gold pan, or a burro and a pickaxe. But industrial mining is different. Pebble is not your grandfather’s mine. It’s also like nothing you’ve ever seen in Alaska.

Kendra Zamzow, a resident of Chickaloon, is an environmental chemist and the Alaska representative for the Center for Science in Public Participation. She has a doctorate in environmental chemistry from the University of Nevada, Reno and a bachelor’s degree in molecular and cellular biology from Humboldt State University, California.


Kendra Zamzow can be reached at editor@alaskanewspapers.com, or by phone at 907-348-2449

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Further interesting discussion and information  about metals mining in Alaska can be found at  Ground Truth Trekking .

A break…sorta

July 17, 2011

The Bristol Bay sockeye fishery started well and then dropped off well short of projections. 

From an email note from Ugavic this morning:

“Our season has been totally odd. We, as did most of BB, started at least a week early, hit hard and then came to an almost dead halt for about a week. Due to gaps in the test fishery from weather there was no real warning and it spooked all of the fishermen. Ugashik has historically had a two peak season so hubby and many old time fishermen handled better than many, but his wife has not

:-))”

That’s not to say that anyone is getting to lollygag  , however.

Far from it!

All the hard work during our short Alaska spring to plan, start seedlings, and plant gardens in the cold houses and outdoor beds is starting to yield food for the table .

This short respite  allowed for catching up on weeding and mulching, checking on let’s-see-if-it-works projects like this corn

and taking a quick look around to see what the “neighbors” are up to

What a funny place for a robin nest!

Holy moley! A visitor not seen in these parts for many years…

Fish started running again some a couple days ago :

There are a lot of questions about why the projected fish return  may have dropped off . Margaret Bauman from The Bristol Bay Times, in an article reprinted in the Alaska Dispatch, spoke to a number of  people about what may or may not be going on.

While it may be honest for a biologist to say they don’t have a clue what happened to the projected but no-show 2-2s,  it’s sure worrisome to folks who have a few short weeks to make the bulk of the year’s income.

Sending best fishy wishes to all in Bristol Bay region, especially Ugavic and hubby!

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Note to self: Ask Vic the next time she gets a break about how her potatoes are doing. Mine are growing so big and so fast I’m starting to have dreams about Attack-of-the -Giant -Spuds. Since we ordered the seed potatoes from the same farm in the Interior I’m wondering  if it’s the climate in my part of Alaska or the stock…

Gone Fishin…!

June 25, 2011

The internet allows us to stay in touch with friends and family in real-time ways we never could until quite recently. 

  We  use the “Tubes” to share pictures and stories , instant messaging for all kinds of things, youtube to share videos. It’s easy to stay in touch with folks daily , if desired.

But when the fish run it’s time to just hang a GONE FISHIN sign on your monitor for a few weeks . Whether folks are fishing for subsistence or commercially, no one has time to chat, the fish won’t wait!

Vic and hubby have been running both ends against the middle to get their small commercial operation ready . Fish are due any day.

Some prep started weeks ago- permits, ordering supplies, vetting and readying equipment and hiring crew.

Now it’s time for hauling the buoy & anchor out to set the ‘running line’ that the nets hang off

Now it’s time to get crew quarters spiffed up and furnished

And time to welcome the crew!

It’s here!

Going fishin!

Open Letter…

June 4, 2011

to  the Yankee Fishermen’s Cooperative in Seabrook, NH :

Imagine our personal and collective surprise here in Alaska upon finding  Sarah Palin stopped by to boost morale there :

“Palin: Well, commercial fishing is near and dear to my heart of course, you know having fished for so many years. And I understand fish politics… Biology needs to dictate decisions in a fishery.”

Hoooo!

Um…

Oh, for heaven’s sake!

We  are as worried as you are as to what this catch share program will do to you.

We have many communities  which have suffered enormously under the experimental catch share program here but please do not mistake Ms Palin’s assertion that she understands fish politics or thinks biology should be the decisive factor in fish policy as the truth.

Examples abound of her lack of knowledge and  understanding of fish politics  and downright refusal to accept  biology before, during, and after her bizarrely truncated stint as our Governor. She has a long history here of avoiding answering direct questions with comprehensive and coherent responses and fish politics are/were no exception.

We’ll skip right on by her relying-on-biology routine over our polar bears here, but please keep it in mind should you ever feel a real itch to accept that she really does care for unbiased science winning out when big development is at stake.

Those little slogans about individuals’ entrepreneurial spirit, getting government out of the way, and so on which  she brings up repeatedly, are just that  -slogans.

As our Governor she cleared the decks  for government and big business to run right up over the top of the everyday person on more than one one occasion.

She also turned her back  , multiple times, on the very people she wooed into supporting her with all those slogans and suchlike.

You can see in the responses here , at the Alaska Dispatch, that news of Ms Palin dropping in to lift your morale and claiming to understand fish politics met almost universal Pffft!s no matter what side of the catch share issue one is on.  It is perhaps a sign of her greatly diminished influence here that the comments rapidly moved to arguing about catch shares themselves after folks weighed in on the ex-Gov’s fish knowledge base. We would urge you to do the same.

It’s hard for us to picture the short 13 mile coastline and small fishing fleet of New Hampshire  in relation to our coastline which exceeds those of all other states combined and fisheries which provide 78,500 jobs but it is not hard for us to understand the fears and concerns you have there about the change in your fishery management.

The catch share philosophy , while embraced by many , has had far reaching consequences here, many of which are not good.

We stand with you in your concern as this change comes to your shores.

The Alaska Dispatch story, Palin disses fishing quotas at N.H. tour stop, linked to a very good overview of  catch share information and philosophy per the status quo.

We would invite all who visit here to also look carefully at criticisms and recommendations for real change to the philosophy as well.

The concerns that these shares, granted free, granted in perpetuity, and treated like property to be traded or sold, is completely askew are real.

The concerns that these shares have tended to consolidate access with fewer and fewer and bigger and bigger businesses are real.

The law and policy which governs this should always be open to review and revision.

Everyday Americans need to stand together, not as individuals fighting the system, but rather as people striving to make a system which works for themselves.

This is not simple, easy stuff to follow but since it affects so many real, live people we think it is worth folks educating themselves some to be able to make better decisions when they vote  or align themselves towards or against policy.

We don’t speak up much here at Anonymous Bloggers about  things outside Alaska but this issue affects every ocean fishery in America and Alaska has been the “beta-tester” for the method.

Alaska Pi and Ugavic

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More important than any of the boy-are-we-tired-of-whatzername’s-lies  links above-

Further reading and criticism of catch share ‘stuff’ can be found at :

Rethinking Fisheries Policy in Alaska : Options for the Future

by Daniel W Bromley and Seth Macinko

Abdicating Responsibility:The Deceits of Fisheries Policy

by Daniel W Bromley and

FISHING COMMUNITIES AS SPECIAL PLACES:
THE PROMISE AND PROBLEMS OF PLACE IN
CONTEMPORARY FISHERIES MANAGEMENT

 by Seth Macinko

And we are hoping  Mr Whittier’s full length film comes to fruit.

A Break In The Clouds!

August 15, 2010

Aug 15, 2010

All of us here at AB have had a summer full of adventures and work. Some time with family, much time spent away from the computer and, as you probably noticed, the blog.

In Alaska, the month of August is considered the season of Fall. Since I never feel like we get Spring until at least mid-May, it tends to make the activity level even more harried when we realize we could well get snow and freezing temperatures in a month or so.

We are working on a number of things for you that have happened during this time away from the blog, and you should start to see the fruit of all that work soon.

It has been the season of fishing and growing and, in some instances, seems to include some shenanigans, too.

Stay tuned, but, for now, enjoy a break in the clouds as we did today in Bristol Bay, and may you, too, have a rainbow in your day.

Scientific Approach to Ugashik Salmon Returns

June 8, 2010

Some exciting research is going on right now at the Ugashik Lakes here in Bristol Bay, at least for us ‘fish people’! 

Through a combined effort of our CDQ, their ‘science arm’, a drifting fish marketing group, Pilot Point groups and some local residents up at the Ugashik Lakes, a sonar project to count salmon “yearlings” or smolt* is under way. This is just one of a number of tools that are used to make not only better forecasts of the returning salmon, but also help to better manage the entire system of salmon runs.
* Salmon life cycle

The state of Alaska used to do these types of projects on a regular basis but due to budget restraints they were cut a number of years ago. 

NOW I am sure many of you are hearing ‘sonar’ and thinking of all the issues that sonar  fish count caused on the Yukon last year BUT this is different. This sonar equipment is some of the newest and most sophisticated that can be used for this type of research. Also the conditions are much different than on the Yukon. One thing is the clarity of the water, almost crystal clear at the lakes, and none of the debris that the Yukon has make this different, along with other factors. 

This is a system of sonar ‘pods’ that are placed on the floor of the river, actually between where the lakes drain into a lagoon at the head of the river, that are linked to computers on shore to gather the data.

Now hang with me for a few more paragraphs and maybe you can see why we are so excited. 

This research, after a just a couple of years, will give biologists the ability to not only look at how many smolt come from the number of salmon that were allowed to ‘escape’ up the river, past the fishermen to spawn, but also how well the fish are doing when they return as full grown salmon. 

It can help us understand how our lake system is doing in providing a breeding and rearing ground for these young salmon. We might also be able to fine tune the numbers we harvest and that we allow to escape for spawning from the information gained. 

Sockeye salmon typically spawn in lakes and some of the side creeks that feed those lakes. They require, as do all fish, some environmental specifics, not only to hatch, but also to survive and grow the one to two years they spend in the lakes before heading out to sea. 

My understanding is that most often the Ugashik Lakes Sockeye spend two years in the two lakes that make up our system, thus leaving bigger, and hopefully healthier, to withstand the conditions they face in the ocean over the next 1-3 years before they return. 

If during this count, and hopefully there will be future counts, we see more fish leaving when they are only one year old we might well have to study what is specifically happening in our lakes to make them leave sooner than normal.

By knowing the number leaving, we can estimate their survivability in the ocean.  We will have a better idea how to insure sustainability if we know the ocean conditions as well as the genetics of all fish caught in bycatch, including the Chinooks. 

Please check back as I update you on what we are seeing this year as the first results come in from the counts. 

We need to also thank BBEDC’s fishing partners, BBSRI, the BB-RSDA, City of Pilot Point, Pilot Point Tribal Council and Mr and Mrs Robert Dreeszen.

~ Victoria Briggs