August 2021

Feds: B.C. mines won’t go before international commission

first_imgAlaska Native Government & Policy | Energy & Mining | Environment | Fisheries | Government | Southeast | SyndicatedFeds: B.C. mines won’t go before international commissionSeptember 16, 2015 by Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska News Share:Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Anchorage Aug. 30. Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, in suit, and First Lady Donna Walker are among those greeting the secretary. (Photo courtesy Office of Gov. Walker)The U.S. State Department will not propose putting Southeast Alaska’s transboundary mine conflict before the International Joint Commission. That’s the U.S.-Canada panel that addresses cross-border water issues.Audio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Critics of transboundary mining have been lobbying the federal government to put the issue before the commission. They include tribal, fisheries and environmental groups, as well as local governments.The International Joint Commission is part of the century-old U.S.-Canada Boundary Waters Treaty. It’s charged with resolving conflicts involving waterways that flow from one country into another.The critics say the commission is the best way to keep British Columbia mines and exploration projects from polluting salmon-rich rivers that flow into Southeast Alaska.Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott asked for a sit-down meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry during his recent visit to Alaska.“I didn’t get to meet with him. I did have the opportunity to mention it to him, that it was an issue,” he says.Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott heads up a state working group focusing on transboundary mines issues. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/ CoastAlaska News)Mallott heads up a state working group looking into transboundary mines. He planned to lobby Kerry to request involvement of the International Joint Commission.“I mentioned that I was going to follow up with the State Department and then I saw that he was later asked a question and commented on the importance of the transboundary river issues,” he says.Mallott says he’s not sure that means Kerry is ready to take action, “but it does mean hopefully that the State Department has this issue on its radar.”And it does.The department, in responoce to our inquiry, says it’s concerned about British Columbia mining’s impacts on Alaskans, including Native groups, commercial fishermen and the tourism industry. It added that it had shared those concerns with senior levels of Canada and British Columbia’s governments.But State Department officials say they do not anticipate referring the issue to the International Joint Commission at this time. Instead, they’re relying on increased cooperation between Alaska and British Columbia.Guy Archibald, works on mining issues for the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, says he’s surprised.“The IJC has over a century of action that has been very effective everywhere from Washington State to New York State in avoiding disputes across the boundary,” says Archibald,  who coordinates the Inside Passage Waterkeepers group.One tribal leader says he’ll pursue another avenue.Fish and Game Department Commissioner Sam Cotten speaks while Rob Sanderson Jr. listens during a meeting with tribal leaders in Juneau. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)“If the State Department isn’t willing to step in and help us, then this is something that we have to step up and take on ourselves,” says Rob Sanderson Jr.,  a member of the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s Executive Committee.He also co-chairs the United Tribal Transboundary Mining Work Group.“We do have that relationship with the federal government that we need to exercise. Basically, when they say ‘We’re not going to seek a referral,’ we are going to have to take matters into our own hands,” he says.The transboundary work group includes about a dozen tribal governments in Southeast Alaska.Sanderson says they’ll seek additional support before using their role as sovereign governments to ask the State Department for International Joint Commission involvement.Share this story:last_img read more

Lawmakers: TransCanada buyout likely, but is state ready?

Energy & Mining | North Slope | State GovernmentLawmakers: TransCanada buyout likely, but is state ready?October 29, 2015 by Rachel Waldholz, APRN Share:This map shows the likely route of the Alaska LNG project, as of August 2015. (Map courtesy of Alaska LNG)Lawmakers now say it’s all but inevitable the legislature will approve the governor’s request to buy out TransCanada and take a larger stake in the Alaska LNG project. A vote is expected early next week.TransCanada itself has testified in favor of the buyout.But even as they prepare to approve the deal, lawmakers are raising concerns about the state’s ability to take the company’s place at the table.The way the TransCanada deal was originally set up, the state and the company share a 25 percent stake in the Alaska LNG project — and a 25 percent vote on project decisions.In a hearing on Wednesday, TransCanada director Vincent Lee explained that that arrangement only works if there’s a melding of the minds – and when Gov. Bill Walker’s administration took over from previous Gov. Sean Parnell, that was no longer the case.“As we see, the administration is thinking about doing the project in a different way,” Lee said. “We don’t feel the alignment is as strong as it used to be. And that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad thing, it’s just that, you know, we are approaching the project from a different angle.”When asked what would happen if the legislature doesn’t approve the buy-out, Lee said TransCanada would have to seriously consider exiting the deal anyway — in which case, the state would still be obligated to pay their costs.That wouldn’t seem to leave lawmakers with much of a choice, and by Thursday morning, Senate President Kevin Meyer (R-Anchorage) was willing to say so.“I think we’re going to end up doing as the administration has asked us to, and to buy out TransCanada,” Meyer said. “And it seems to be the right thing to do for the state of Alaska at this time.”But even as they move closer to the buyout, lawmakers expressed concern about whether the state is ready to take over the company’s role — and with it, a full 25 percent stake in a $45 to $65 billion gas line megaproject.For days, lawmakers have been asking who’s in charge of the state’s effort — and received no clear answer.One possible candidate is Dan Fauske, the head of the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation, which represents the state in the project. When AGDC representatives showed up to testify before the Senate Finance Committee, co-chair Anna MacKinnon (R-Eagle River) had one question:“Gentlemen, the first question out of the gate is, where is Dan Fauske?” she asked.Joe Dubler is Vice President for Commercia Operations at AGDC. He“Frank Richards and myself were asked to present to the committee today, and the other gentlemen you mentioned were asked not to,” he said.“Who asked that Mr. Fauske not be in Juneau today?” MacKinnon asked.“Madam Chair, the attorney general for the State of Alaska is the one that’s running the special session for the governor,” Dubler replied. “And he asked that Mr. Fauske not be in Juneau today.”That did not go over well with the committee, which recessed until Fauske could be reached via phone, and later called in Attorney General Craig Richards himself.Richards explained his thinking this way: “The governor and commissioners and myself thought it best to bring the people to present to you that were the most technically knowledgeable on the subject,” he said. “So I think you’ll find that those are the people that have presented.”Senator Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna) said the tussle over AGDC was troubling for two reasons: one, it seemed like the administration was trying to limit lawmakers’ access to information. And, it revealed splits among the different agencies who will be taking over the state’s share of the project.“I’m not sure that those three entities – Department of Revenue, Department of Natural Resources, and AGDC – understand where they fit in that organization, and I think there’s internal tension,” Micciche said. “That internal tension is something that I believe was reflected in TransCanada’s willingness to exit the project.”But Micciche said he thinks the state will get there.“If we’re going to operate at the level of the other 75 percent ownership of this project,” he said. “That internal separation needs to come together.”Share this story: read more

ADN owner survives Halibut Cove plane crash

first_imgSouthcentral | TransportationADN owner survives Halibut Cove plane crashJuly 5, 2016 by Daysha Eaton, KBBI Share:The owner of Alaska Dispatch News crashed her plane in Halibut Cove over the holiday weekend.Alice Rogoff speaks to the Juneau World Affairs Council about Arctic issues in April 2013. (Video still via 360 North)In a statement released through her attorney, Alice Rogoff confirms that she was involved in an aborted landing there Sunday. Rogoff said she is physically fine, but her Cessna 206 float plane was damaged.Alaska State Troopers said the crash took place around 5:50 p.m. Wildlife Troopers responded to the scene in a vessel but did not have contact with Rogoff, according to a Trooper statement. When they got to the location of the crash, the pilot had been safely transported by a private party.Troopers have turned the case over to the National Transportation Safety Board. Clint Johnson, chief of the Alaska Regional NTSB office, said witnesses report Rogoff hit a tree.“We have not had a chance to interview the pilot, but what we have been led to believe by witnesses in the area is that this airplane was on approach to Halibut Cove, to the bay, to the saltwater bay, and it subsequently struck a tree then ended up crashing into the bay,” Johnson said. “One person on board, obviously the pilot, no injuries – substantial damage to the airplane was the result.”A photo in the Homer News shows that the plane’s fuselage is mostly intact, but with the right wing folded at a 90-degree angle, the other wing bent, one float crumpled under the fuselage and the other float missing. Johnson, with the NTSB, said they hope to interview Rogoff later this week.“The investigation is in the formative stages here, hopefully we will learn a little bit more once we have a chance to chat with the pilot and find out a little bit more from the pilot’s standpoint exactly what took place,” Johnson said.In her statement, Rogoff thanked the people in Halibut Cove for their generosity and good spirits and said Clem Tillion’s 91st birthday party went on as planned and she was delighted to attend.Share this story:last_img read more

Bartlett hospital reaches agreement with union

first_imgCommunity | Economy | Health | JuneauBartlett hospital reaches agreement with unionJanuary 19, 2017 by Jacob Resneck, CoastAlaska Share:Bartlett Regional Hospital is a major employer in the Juneau community. (Photo by Jennifer Canfield/KTOO)The Juneau Assembly will be asked next week to approve $3.06 million in pay increases for employees at Bartlett Regional Hospital.That’s after the city-owned hospital’s board of directors approved a tentative agreement with its unionized workforce after more than a year of negotiations that ended with the help of federal mediators.Hospital employees have been without a labor contract since the end of 2015.The International Longshore and Warehouse Union represents about 385 hospital workers that includes nurses, therapists and technicians. The new contract will also expand the union’s bargaining unit to include many workers employed on an “as needed basis.”The wage increase would also cover all non-management employees at the hospital not in the union.The tentative contract ratified by the union would include a retroactive pay increase that runs through the end of the year when the new contract would expire. It envisions a cumulative pay increase equivalent to 2.3 percent overall. A second increase of 1 percent would go in effect in July.The contract will go before the Juneau Assembly for ratification at its Jan. 23 meeting.Clarification: This story has been updated to note that the wage increase — not the entire contract — covers all non-management, non-union employees at the hospital. Additional details have also been added.Share this story:last_img read more

Fire marshal: Youths confess to Twin Lakes playground fire

first_imgCommunity | Crime & Courts | Juneau | Public SafetyFire marshal: Youths confess to Twin Lakes playground fireApril 25, 2017 by Jacob Resneck and Jeremy Hsieh, KTOO Share:Firefighters spray down a fire on Monday, April 24, 2017, at the playground near Twin Lakes. (Photo by Kelli Burkinshaw/KTOO)The two teenagers arrested for setting the Twin Lakes playground on fire Monday have confessed, and Juneau’s fire marshal has completed his investigation.Capital City Fire/Rescue Fire Marshal Dan Jager said the two teenagers admitted they started the fire with no clear motive.“They admitted as to how they did that,” Jager said. “Because they are juveniles and it’s still an open case, I’m not allowed to comment on that.”Jager also noted no accelerants — such as gasoline — were used.“The material on the playground itself, basically being shredded tires, that in itself is a fuel,” he said. “Between the wind and the fact you had basically the tire material burning, that, once it burns it turns into a liquid, so it’s kind of a petroleum product at that point. That’s really what caused the fire to intensify and spread across the playground as it did.”The many photos of the early stages of the fire shared through social media were critical in the investigation, Jager said. The images helped narrow down where the fire began and how it spread.Jager recommends using different materials if the playground is rebuilt.“Granted, it’s not as soft or easy to land on, but gravel doesn’t burn,” he said. “At least not that easily. Sand, gravel, things like that, stuff that’s noncombustible is the recommendation.”The Juneau Community Foundation is accepting donations to rebuild the playground.Editor’s note: The foundation has provided grants to 360 North for Gavel Alaska and maintains the KTOO Legacy Foundation fund.Share this story:last_img read more

Research group finds toxin in Auke Rec butter clams

first_imgFisheries | Food | Juneau | Oceans | Outdoors | Public Safety | Science & Tech | SoutheastResearch group finds toxin in Auke Rec butter clamsJuly 1, 2017 by Quinton Chandler, KTOO Share:Alexandrium is a genus of dinoflagellates that leads to paralytic shellfish poisoning. This cell was identified by a team of researchers at NOAA’s biotoxin testing lab in Seattle. (Photo courtesy of NOAA).Those butter clams you just found may not be safe to eat if you harvested them near Juneau’s Auke Recreation Area.In a new report released Friday, Southeast Alaska Tribal Ocean Research found high levels of biotoxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning inside the butter clams.According to the research partnership, paralytic shellfish poisoning can temporarily paralyze you, or worse, it can stop your breathing and kill you.The organization measures biotoxin in species found in specific sites near Alaskan communities.The latest report shows that in some Auke rec butter clams, researchers found about three-times the level of toxin accepted by the Food and Drug Administration.The group doesn’t have recent data for biotoxin levels in Auke Bay, Amalga Harbor and Eagle Beach.Outside of Juneau, the group didn’t have new data for Haines, Yakutat, Hoonah and Hydaburg.Researchers did issue a butter clam advisory for Nahku Beach in Skagway and for multiple species in areas of Ketchikan, Wrangell, Metlakatla, Klawok, Craig and Kasaan.The organization advises you to be careful and get toxin levels tested when harvesting shellfish. You can’t get rid of the toxin that causes PSP by freezing or cooking it.Share this story:last_img read more

Landless communities continue fight for land

first_imgAlaska Native Corporations | Alaska Native Government & Policy | Federal Government | Southeast | SyndicatedLandless communities continue fight for landMarch 27, 2018 by Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska News Share:Downtown Ketchikan in spring 2017. The Southeast city is one of five without its own Alaska Native corporation. A bill before Congress would change that. (Photo by Elissa Nadworny/NPR)Representatives of five Southeast Alaska communities continue their fight for recognition under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act.But they’re still facing opposition.Audio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.It’s been almost a half-century since Congress passed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, which created more than 200 corporations with land, money and shareholders.It left out Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Tenakee Springs and Haines, known as the landless communities.Alaska’s Congressional delegation has introduced a number of bills over the years to address the situation. None has passed.Supporters haven’t given up, and they said it’s not about money.“It’s about the land, said Joseph Reeves, president of the Landless Natives of Ketchikan. “The land is our centerpiece and we ain’t ready to give up that idea.”“Let’s have just a sliver of what we used to totally own,” he said. “And that’s all it is, 23,000 acres in Ketchikan out of the millions of acres around us that we always owned.”He supports terms of the latest legislation, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Improvement Act, which also includes provisions to transfer land in other parts of Southeast and the rest of the state.U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski co-sponsored the measure with Sen. Dan Sullivan.“This is a matter of equity,” she said. “To have five communities that were left out was not right then and it’s not right to this day that they continue to be on the outs.”The bill was introduced last summer and had its first hearing in February.It remains in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, which Murkowski chairs.Its best chance of passing is to be part of a larger lands measure.The bill is opposed by a number of environmental organizations, because it would transfer a total of more than 100,000 acres of Southeast’s Tongass National Forest to the five new corporations.One critic, Andy Moderow of the Alaska Wilderness League, also opposes land transfers elsewhere in the state.“Under the guise of correcting past wrongs, Sen. Murkowski is pushing ahead with a bill that will create a whole bunch of new sets of problems in Southeast Alaska and around Alaska by privatizing up to 600,000 acres of land in our state with very few protections for areas that currently are public resources,” he said.The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, or SEACC, also opposes the measure as written.There’s no consensus on why the five communities didn’t get their own corporations.Some have said they weren’t historically Native communities or didn’t have large enough Native populations.A University of Alaska study showed strong similarities to other communities that did get corporations.Others said the Forest Service and the then-thriving timber industry didn’t want to lose access to the land.Still others have said it was a paperwork mistake in the rush to pass the legislation.Reeves thinks that like its predecessors, this bill may not make it through Congress. But he and others will continue the work begun decades ago by people who are now elders or have passed away.“We still have their children and their children’s children here that will benefit from this,” he said. “It will help them in their seeking of an identity as an Alaska Native person in this community. To be a part of an ANCSA corporation is something that we hope will help our people for generations to come.”Most of the people who would gain stock in the new corporations already are shareholders of Sealaska, Southeast’s regional Native corporation. That’s the case for most members of the region’s other 13 urban or village corporations.Share this story:last_img read more

Haines Raptor Center plans new aviary

first_imgSoutheast | Tourism | WildlifeHaines Raptor Center plans new aviaryMarch 28, 2018 by Daysha Eaton, KHNS-Haines Share:Sidney Campbell with Arden, an American bald eagle at the American Bald Eagle Foundation Raptor Center and Natural History Museum in Haines, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Stefanie Jenkinson)Audio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.The American Bald Eagle Foundation Raptor Center and Natural History Museum in Haines will build a new aviary.The Raptor Center houses three bald eagles and is a tourism attraction for the Southeast Alaska town of about 2,500.The center is home to three American bald eagles: Arden, Vega and Bella.Raptor program manager Stefanie Jenkinson, is in charge of the food, the husbandry and the enrichment for the birds that live there.“Their job is to educate people,” Jenkinson said.Against a painted backdrop of an Alaska mountain scene and through wire mesh two bald eagles, Arden and Vega, do their daily training, hopping from their perches up high onto platforms down below where handlers reward them with morsels of moose meat.Vega, the oldest bald eagle at the center is in her mid-20s. Eagles can live a long time, into their 40s.Vega is one of the reasons why they’re overhauling the aviary.When she is kept with other eagles, handlers say, she tends to outcompete and steal food from the two other younger, smaller eagles.The eagles and their handlers have been practicing their routine for cruise ship season in Haines, which brings thousands of people to see them.The Raptor Center is at the heart of tourism here and their building is right in the middle of town between the post office and the police station.Passengers from cruise ships line up each summer to see the eagles and other raptors up close.The center’s mission is the conservation of the bald eagle and its habitat.One of the largest congregations of eagles in the world takes place about 20 miles from here, each fall along the banks of the Chilkat River, where the birds come to feast on spawned-out salmon.The Raptor Center opened in 2010.But the existing spaces where the largest birds live are less than ideal, said Sidney Campbell, the education and development manager at the center.“Our three bad eagles really should not be housed together, but we only have the space now to allow us to keep one separate and two who are housed together,” Campbell said.These birds of prey normally have large territories and they’re opportunistic feeders.Housing the eagles together can cause problems, Campbell said.“Our largest bald eagle, Vega, is older and wiser and definitely larger than the other two and she’s much better at competing and because bald eagles are scavengers and they like to steal food, she’s really good at stealing it from the other two,” Campbell said.Having three separate rooms for the eagles is part of the plan for the new aviary.Plus it also includes a weathering yard where birds can perch, sun themselves, and where outdoor training can take place as well as a walking path so guests can connect with the birds in a closer setting.“We want them to be able to do the job to the best of their abilities. Not only are we building larger spaces, we’re building spaces that are more enriching,” Campbell said. “We are demolishing a building that is currently blocking a lot of light to some of the existing aviaries. This way rather than having the birds kind of staring at each other all day, we will have them looking at their surroundings. They’ll be able to look at the wildlife that is nearby. There’s lots of bird watching, lots of squirrel watching that is really enriching.”The idea is to give the eagles more room and some of the stimulation they would have in a wild setting and to give visitors a better experience, Campbell said.“Currently, we can’t open the aviaries to the public,” Campbell said. “We lead a tour through there every day in the summer, but that is capped at 15 people, so very few of our guests actually get to see all of the birds because some of them don’t come out and do glovework.”Besides the bald eagles, the Raptor Center is also home to two red-tailed hawks, a Eurasian eagle owl, an eastern screech owl, a peregrine Falcon, a lanner-saker hybrid falcon and a merlin.“By building the two new structures and tearing out the existing structure, we’re going to open it up and people can kind of go on their own self-guided tours,” Campbell said.After the new aviary is complete, Campbell said, hopefully, the eagles and the people who come to see them will have a much more authentic experience at the Raptor Center.The center has raised more than $50,000 for the new aviary, through a GoFundMe to page. But they need to raise more to reach their goal.The groundwork for the project is scheduled to take place in April and construction is scheduled to be completed this fall.Share this story:last_img read more

BLM projects ‘insignificant’ impact from seismic work in ANWR

first_imgEnergy & Mining | Environment | North Slope | WildlifeBLM projects ‘insignificant’ impact from seismic work in ANWRJuly 30, 2018 by Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media Share:A 3-D seismic survey may be the first sign of controversial oil development in Arctic National Wildlife RefugeAccording to a proposal, geophysical services company SAExploration is proposing to do seismic work in ANWR.Seismic work used to involve dynamite. Now it’s mostly done with vibrating trucks that send shock waves into the ground. Lines of sensors on the surface record the waves that bounce back to map underground formations.The company wants to bring about a dozen vibrating vehicles to the refuge, each mounted on a rubber track.Bureau of Land Management officials said this week they see no need to do a full environmental impact statement for the seismic work and expect to approve the request in time for work to begin this winter.Several vibrating vehicles would drive parallel lines across the frozen tundra, stopping frequently to lower their vibration plate for about 20 seconds and then move to the next spot.The trucks would drive about eight lines across a typical square mile, according to the company’s application.The plan is to shoot seismic across the 2,600 square-mile coastal plain.BLM spokeswoman Lesli Ellis-Wouters said it’s the same technology that was used in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, west of the refuge.“We felt that there would be insignificant impact, so we’re planning on doing an environmental assessment and when that is available we’ll post that environmental assessment, with a draft finding of no significant impact,” Ellis-Wouters said.An environmental assessment is kind of the junior cousin of a full “environmental impact statement.” It’s less rigorous and less detailed.the BLM could order a more thorough examination if it learns something unexpected in the assessment, or in the public comment period that follows, Ellis-Wouters said.“At the end of the 30-day public comment period if we don’t receive substantial input to change our finding of no significant impact, we would issue a decision record, and then the activity could be authorized,” Ellis-Wouters said.In addition to the vibration trucks, the work will require two mobile camps, each able to house 160 people, and a variety of support vehicles.Defenders of Wildlife attorney Jason Rylander said the activity is far from harmless.“Seismic has tremendous potential for serious environmental impacts, Rylander said. “In fact, you can still see the scarring from the last time that seismic was allowed, in only just a small portion of the refuge.”In the 1980s, Congress allowed a 2-D seismic survey on the coastal plain of the refuge, resulting in more than a thousand miles of trails.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said most of the trails recovered well in the first decade but a few miles were still visible from the air decades later.Data collection for a 3-D seismic survey is more intensive with far more sensors.Rylander and other environmentalists especially are worried about the impact seismic work could have on polar bears.“During denning season, it can cause mother polar bears to leave their den,” Rylander said. “It can expose polar bear cubs to disturbance. We’re very very concerned.”U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said noise disturbance and passing vehicles have prompted some mother polar bears to abandon their dens while others seem to adjust to industrial noise.The Interior Department hopes to offer leases for drilling in ANWR next year.While it’s responding to the application to conduct seismic work, BLM also is preparing a separate environmental impact statement for the lease sale itself.Congress mandated the lease sale last year, but Rylander said environmental groups aren’t giving up.“Whether the Trump administration ultimately issues a lease or not, our aim is to ensure that this land is never drilled,” Rylander said.BLM expects to hold another public comment period and at least seven public meetings on the lease sale proposal this fall or winter.Share this story:last_img read more

Push to grow Alaska’s mariculture includes new how-to training for budding seaweed farmers

first_imgBusiness | Economy | Fisheries | Food | SoutheastPush to grow Alaska’s mariculture includes new how-to training for budding seaweed farmersDecember 3, 2019 by Joe Viechnicki, KFSK – Petersburg Share:A close-up of kelp. (Photo courtesy of the Petersburg Marine Mammal Center)There’s a new opportunity next February in three Alaskan communities for people interested in getting into the industry of farming seaweed.The training is geared toward those in commercial fishing, tribal organizations or other coastal residents.Julie Decker is executive director of the Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, a non-profit founded in 1978. Over the past five years the foundation has spearheaded an initiative to grow mariculture in the state. Decker said there are more people looking to get a start in the industry, whether it’s shellfish or seaweed farming.“We’ve also recognized that seaweed is sort of the entry point for the industry because it’s relatively cheaper gear so less capital needs to get involved,” Decker said. It’s also an annual crop so cash flow is a little bit easier.”The training will include an online webinar and in-person workshops planned for ten people each in Kodiak, Ketchikan and Sitka along with mentoring for a select few. Decker said they’re looking for applicants who have experience on the water.“So that we think they’ll be fairly successful from the get-go, since this is not a long workshop, you know there’s not a lot that goes into it but we think it’s enough to give people that have some skills working on the water already, give them an understanding of the application process and some other things about how to grow seaweed that would make them successful,” she said.Seaweed farming is seen as a natural fit for those in commercial fishing, with the boats and gear that could be used to set up a farm and a fishing season that often cries out for off-season opportunities. It’s a well-established industry in other parts of the globe and one that’s just starting to take off in Alaska. But it is gathering momentum.A Juneau company, Barnacle Seafoods, just won first place in the retail category for the Symphony of Seafood contest with a bullwhip kelp hot sauce. Four out of the 20 entries in that annual competition were seaweed products.The training is free. But applicants from outside those three communities have to pay their own travel and lodging costs. Applications are being accepted online until Dec. 20.Melissa Good is a marine advisory program agent in Unalaska for Alaska Sea Grant, a partner in the program.  She said the training is aimed at people who don’t know a lot about farming.“We’re going to cover topics from seaweed species, their life cycles through what kind of gear they’re going to need and business plans, funding sources to get into that and really all of the steps it takes from going through your permitting process, identifying what you want to grow, to marketing,” Good said.Good is also involved in researching what it takes to get a farm going in the Aleutian Islands. Alaska Sea Grant has partnered with the Aleutians East Borough to set up a pilot farm in Sand Point. Good said they hope to growing two different species of kelp next winter and harvesting in the spring of 2021.“Our hope is that we develop an innovative type of farm that can withstand our weather conditions,” Good explained. “We are living within an extreme environment; they call it the birth place of the winds for a very good reason. So we need to show that this can be done here.”In the first year the kelp grown at that farm will be donated to the community and any seafood processing companies that are interested in it. Share this story:last_img read more