Alaska

A court decision may help endangered orcas, but Alaskan fishermen are wary

The U.S. District Court in Seattle seemed to offer endangered orca whales a lifeline in September when it issued a preliminary decision that might make more wild king salmon available to the marine mammals. But while the court decision is expected to help orcas, it may be bad news for fishermen.(No paywall)

Biden to end large-scale old-growth timber sales in Tongass

The Biden administration will end large-scale sales of old-growth timber in the Tongass National Forest on the Alaska panhandle, the world's largest intact temperate rainforest, said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday.

Native Alaskan fishers are losing out to industrial fleet in the Bering Sea

In the Bering Sea, Native Alaskans are losing the fight for halibut, up against factory ships that throw away more of the valuable fish than the the long-line fishers are allowed to catch, Miranda Weiss reports in FERN's latest story, produced in collaboration with National Geographic. No paywall

U.S. Army Corps key to Trump’s move on Pebble Mine

This week, the Trump administration placed a major hurdle in front of the company seeking to develop the largest gold and copper mine in North America. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday stated that the proposed Pebble Mine project, as currently designed, would not receive the necessary federal permits. The mine was slated for southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay region, home to the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world. (No paywall)

As Covid-19 rises, Alaskans crowd rivers for wild salmon

“As salmon make their epic voyages from the sea to upriver spawning grounds, Alaskans crowd shorelines to catch enough fish to put up for the winter,” Miranda Weiss writes in FERN’s latest story. But the activity has taken on a new urgency this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic and fears of …

Coronavirus concerns mount as Bristol Bay salmon season prepares to open

Two months ago, local leaders in southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay begged the state’s governor to consider canceling the commercial sockeye salmon season. They feared that Covid-19 would spread through the region’s small villages, which have scant health resources. Despite those concerns, preparations for the Bristol Bay fishery, which opens at the end of the month, are barreling ahead, and some 10,000 fishermen and processing plant workers from across the state, the country, and the world are set to descend on the region. But now, as Covid-19 cases are growing across the state — as of June 9, it had recorded more than 600 cases — there is concern that the $5.2 billion industry could be in jeopardy, writes Miranda Weiss in FERN’s latest story. (No paywall)

With Covid-19 in Alaska, a home-grown food movement underway

Alaska imports more than 90 percent of its food, but with Covid-19 interrupting supply chains, especially to remote regions, people in the state are reacting by starting gardens and advocating for more locally grown food, reports Miranda Weiss in FERN's latest story. (No paywall)

Covid-19 might close the largest salmon fishery on Earth 

Leaders in southwest Alaska’s Bristol Bay — source of nearly half the world’s sockeye salmon and a $1.5 billion industry — this week asked Alaska Gov. Michael Dunleavy to shut down the fishery to protect public health. (No paywall)

Did USDA pay Alaska to lobby USDA?

The top Democrats overseeing the Forest Service asked the inspector general on Monday to investigate whether USDA grant money to Alaska was used by the timber industry to argue for more logging in the Tongass National Forest. The Forest Service is weighing a state request for a full exemption from a 2001 rule that bars road construction and logging in undeveloped forests.

Alaska’s biggest wild salmon run at risk

Bristol Bay is a rare, pristine fishery, the largest source of wild salmon in the world, but a new story published by FERN in collaboration with The Nation says it faces a dual threat – from a rapidly changing climate and a massive, Trump-backed mine. The story, by Alaskan journalist Julia …

Catch shares lead to consolidation of Alaskan fisheries

A recent study documenting consolidation and specialization in Alaska’s fisheries over the past three decades illustrates a broader trend taking hold in coastal communities across the country. Catch share programs, a new fisheries management system, are turning fishing rights into tradable commodities, driving up the cost to fish and consolidating fishing rights into the hands of a few wealthy owners. For instance, in Alaska’s Bering Sea crab fishery, just four companies own 77 percent of the rights to fish a single crab species.

GE salmon cleared for U.S. dinner plates

More than three years after the FDA approved, for the first time, a genetically engineered animal as safe to eat, the government opened the door for AquaBounty Technologies to grow and sell its GE salmon in the United States. A biotech trade group said the fish, which developers say grows twice as fast as as conventional Atlantic salmon on 25-percent less feed, will "contribute to a more sustainable food supply."

Pebble Mine and Alaskan salmon face day of reckoning

The on-again, off-again Pebble Mine venture in Alaska is facing a day of reckoning, with the future of the nation’s largest salmon run, which can exceed 40 million fish, hanging in the balance, according to FERN’s latest story by Paul Greenberg, in collaboration with Mother Jones. Both sport and commercial fishermen depend on the Bristol Bay fishery, valued at more than half a billion dollars, and for years they have been fighting a proposed mining venture that would develop a deposit containing billions of tons of copper, gold, and molybdenum in the same headwaters where all those salmon get their start.

EPA ‘ready’ to work with Alaska gold mine but retains Obama-era doubts

After more than 1 million public comments, the EPA said it will not dismiss an Obama-era conclusion that the proposed Pebble gold mine in southwestern Alaska could cause "significant and irreversible harm" to the Bristol Bay watershed, reported the Washington Post. Instead, the EPA said it will seek additional comments and that its decision "neither deters nor derails the application process" for the mine. Opponents worry the mine could ruin the Bristol Bay fishery, the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world.

Women in developing countries at high-risk for mercury in diet

Around the world, low-income women are exposed to high amounts of mercury, thanks to mining and marine-based diets, says a report from IPEN, a nonprofit focused on global health and toxic chemicals, and Biodiversity Research Institute, an ecology research organization. Of the 1,0444 women …

Alaska salmon plants hurt by labor shortage

Even as Alaska experienced a banner year for sockeye salmon, some commercial fishermen had to stop hauling in the fish because there weren’t enough workers to process them.

Interior Dept. investigating Zinke’s healthcare calls

The Interior Department's Office of Inspector General is undertaking a preliminary investigation into phone calls made by Secretary Ryan Zinke to Alaska’s Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, warning them that that they could lose their standing with the Trump administration in light of Murkowski’s vote against repealing the Affordable Care Act.

The big splash on Alaska tideland? Kelp farming.

Applicants are asking Alaska's Department of Natural Resources for permission to begin hundreds of acres of kelp farming on the state's tidelands, reports Alaska Public Media. Last year, the state got requests to lease around 18 acres for various types of mariculture; this year, kelp farming would occupy two-thirds of the 1,000 acres of lease requests.

Multiple studies say rate of sea level rise is growing

At least the third study in a year has found that the rate of sea level rise is increasing. A recent report in Nature Climate Change said that the rate of sea level rise had grown from 2.2 millimeters per year in 1993 to a 3.3-millimeter annual rise in 2014.

 Click for More Articles