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Fish Factor: Weaker dollar good news for Alaska's overseas seafood business By LAINE WELCH - The US dollar has dropped in value all year against a basket of other global currencies. 

While that may sound like a bad thing, it’s great news for Alaska seafood and anyone doing business overseas.

“It’s a good thing for Alaska seafood producers because roughly two-thirds of the value of our seafood comes from export markets. So when our currency is less valuable, the prices are not as high for foreign buyers,” said Andy Wink, senior fisheries economist with the McDowell Group. 

It’s a turn-around for a strong dollar that has for several years made Alaska seafood very pricey for prime customers of Japan, Europe and the UK.  Now they will be inclined to buy more for less.

Americans aren’t so lucky. 

The weaker dollar makes the cost of imported goods more expensive here at home – including the 85 percent of seafood that’s imported into the US each year.

“A five percent swing or whatever it is in the value of the dollar will probably make seafood more expensive, “Wink predicted.

The weakening dollar is due to uncertainties by global banks and investors about the Trump administration and its ability to accomplish promises of health care reform, raising interest rates, massive tax cuts and infrastructure spending. Many analysts also point to big question marks looming over Trump’s trade policies.  

“It’s the way that investors perceive the health of the U.S. economy,” Wink said. 

Still - the dollar losing its mojo couldn’t come at a better time for Alaska salmon sales.

“Where we are now,” he added, “is a lot better than where we were at this time last year." - More...
Sunday PM - August 20, 2017

Alaska: FERC Proposal Would Roll Back Land Use Fee Hikes for Alaska Hydropower Projects on Federal Lands - The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) is proposing a new method to calculate annual charges for hydropower projects on federal lands in Alaska. FERC is seeking comment on the use of a statewide average per-acre land value rather than a regional per-acre land value, which would reduce recent land use fee increases and help lower the cost of future projects.

“FERC’s proposal is a step in the right direction for Alaskans served by utilities that generate clean hydroelectric power from facilities on federal lands,” said U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). “This new methodology recognizes the uniqueness of land valuation in Alaska, and will help ensure reasonable rates while removing a growing impediment to development in our state.”

The new proposal announced August 17, 2017 follows a concerted effort by Murkowski and Alaska entities responsible for paying the land use charges to persuade FERC to change its methodology. Quoting a news release from Murkowski, in early 2016, the current methodology resulted in an unjustified 71 percent increase in land use fees for hydroelectric projects on the Kenai Peninsula. It has resulted in a 384 percent increase in land use fees for those projects, and a 679 percent increase in land use fees for the Solomon Gulch project near Valdez, since 2008. Projects in the Fairbanks-Railbelt region have also been affected.

Murkowski has repeatedly argued the current methodology violates the Federal Power Act, which requires fees for the use of federal lands for energy projects to be “reasonable.” She has encouraged FERC to base its rates on the statewide average of all land values in Alaska, given the size of the state and its lack of development. 

The new proposal, if confirmed by FERC after a 60-day public comment period, will effectively roll back land use charges for most of the 21 hydro projects in Alaska that are located on federal lands, and reduce land use charges for 13 of 15 state utilities that operate hydro projects. According to one informal estimate, land use fees could initially drop by 25 percent. - More...
Sunday PM - August 20, 2017



Ketchikan:
Waterfall Foundation donates $25K to PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center - At the first event in the annual fishing derby at the Waterfall Resort, Ketchikan Medical Center's new Chief Administrative Officer ended his first week on the job with a pleasant task. Ed Freysinger accepted a $25,000 check from the Waterfall Foundation at their dinner on August 11th.

“Foundations and community leaders play a pivotal role to help address unmet needs” said Ed, “Their contributions make a difference.”

The Waterfall Foundation is a Legacy Donor to the PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center (KMC) Foundation. They have given the medical center almost $200,000 in the last dozen years. Their initial gift significantly contributed to the Women's Diagnostic Imaging Suite and their donation to the Infusion Suite insured its completion. Waterfall Foundation's support for the Baby Box initiative that promotes safe sleep for newborns notably advanced that project.

“We are, as always, deeply grateful to the Waterfall Foundation,” said Matt Eisenhower, the Executive Director of the KMC Foundation. “Their generosity has been key to ensuring we provide the finest healthcare possible for people, especially women and children, in Southern Southeast Alaska.”

Led by Executive Director Eileen VanWhye, the Waterfall Foundation has almost a quarter-century of philanthropy in Alaska. They have been strong supporters of projects that impact women's and children's health including the Breast Cancer Detection Center of Alaska in Fairbanks and through funding projects at the Wrangell Medical Center Foundation as well as the KMC Foundation. - More...
Sunday PM - August 20, 2017

Alaska: State, partners build more Narcan kits for statewide distribution - The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, the Anchorage Opioid Task Force and volunteers built more than 1,600 opioid overdose response kits on Wednesday night. The kits will be distributed across Alaska as part of the state’s ongoing response to a growing opioid misuse epidemic. From 2009 to 2015, the number of heroin-related deaths in the state quadrupled. In 2015, there were 67 deaths related to prescription opioids — nearly twice the overdose deaths related to heroin. Deaths related to the use of synthetic opioids such as fentanyl have also been documented. 

A state public health program, Project HOPE, provides the overdose response kits, at no charge, to people at risk from opioid overdose. Narcan temporarily blocks or reverses the effects of opioids. Project HOPE has distributed approximately 6,200 kits to partner agencies statewide in the past six months. - More...
Sunday PM - August 20, 2017


 


Alaska:
Pacific walruses haul out near Point Lay earlier than in previous years; Tribal government requests help preventing human-caused distubances - In the first week of August, several hundred Pacific walruses were observed on a barrier island near the Native Village of Point Lay, a small, Iñupiaq community on the northwest coast of Alaska. This is the earliest date yet for the haulout to form. For the remainder of the summer and into the fall, the walruses are expected to move continuously from the island to feeding grounds. The Native Village of Point Lay requests those who must travel by plane or boat follow guidance developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to avoid disturbing the animals on the island or in the sea.

Pacific walruses haul out near Point Lay earlier than in previous years

Pacific walruses resting on shore
Point Lay - September 07, 2015
Courtesy US Fish & Wildlife Service

The formation of coastal haulouts along the Chukchi Sea coast in recent years is associated with the loss of sea ice habitat near offshore feeding grounds. The walruses typically begin to haul out approximately two weeks after sea ice recedes off the continental shelf. This year, sea ice has retreated beyond the continental shelf earlier than in previous years. Sea ice provides protection from predators and easy access to feeding areas below. Walruses would normally rest on the sea ice in small groups and occasionally slip into the water to feed.

The Point Lay haulout is used primarily by adult females and young animals. While on shore the animals are skittish and stampede to the water in response to unusual sights, sounds and odors. The young animals are vulnerable to being trampled in the process. The people of Point Lay have seen dead animals on shore after observing plane and boat activities in the area.

In a videotaped interview, Tribal Council President Leo Ferreira III said, “It was kind of heartbreaking to see that these animals were being wasted this way, in this manner." “We’re trying to protect the walruses from disturbance by aircraft, boat, and ship activity in our area.”

In past years, people have flown to the village to try to see and photograph the animals. The Native Village of Point Lay is concerned about the risk of disturbance from this type of activity and does not have infrastructure to support tourists.

“Could you please respect the Point Lay residents and not come to Point Lay and ask to go take an excursion ride, which is about 2,3,4,5 miles away from this community to go take pictures of the walruses,” Ferreira said in the interview. “Because we feel like even the pictures will disturb the walruses when they’re congregated on the beach.”

Pacific walruses are an important food source for the St. Lawrence Island Yupik, Iñupiaq, and Central Yup’ik communities along the coast of Alaska and have been part of their cultures for thousands of years. They have always cared for the animals, but want to stress the importance of stewardship now more than ever. The Native Village of Point Lay has taken a lead role in stewardship of the walrus haulout in order to prevent human-caused disturbance events. - More...
Sunday PM - August 20, 2017


 
Columns - Commentary

 

jpg Dave Kiffer

DAVE KIFFER: ON THE ROAD, SORT OF - I have an acquaintance who every summer waxes poetically (no rhymes thank goodness) about the summer road trips his family took each year.

Obviously he didn't grow up In Our Fair Salmon City.

With 30 or so miles of road -  50 if you count driving into and out of the potholes - we don't take very elaborate "road trips."

Yes, I know some local families go "off island" for summer drive-a-thons. A family I know just spent something like 50 days circling the country.

Good for them.

I suspect counseling is next.

It is indeed possible, once you reach Haines or Skagway or Prince Rupert or Bellingham to go on one of these "familythisclose-apaloozas" of a vacation, but that's not what we're talking about.

Seriously, cramming a family of nine into a station wagon built for five and driving non stop for the better part of a week from Cleveland to, say, Yellowstone, sounds more like a Guantanamo interrogation technique than a fun adventure.

"You won't talk huh? Okay, we are going to take a six hour side trip to the Worlds Largest Ball of Twine in Kansas!!!!"

"Oh no, not that!! I would rather listen to Englebert Humperdinck 24/7 than that!!!! I'll tell you where Al Qaeda's secret stash of celestial virgins in located. Just don't make me ride in a station wagon stuffed with jihadists to Cawker City, Kansas!!!!"

But I digress.

Is there a local variation of the summer of the road trip?

Yeah, kinda.

We call it going "Out the Road."

Considering some towns have Cul de Sacs bigger than our road system, that seems a bit much, but it's the best we can do.

So where do you go, in Ketchikan, when you go "out the road."

And no, that is not a local euphemism for dying. - More....
Sunday PM - August 20, 2017


jpg Editorial Cartoon: Total Eclipse

Editorial Cartoon: Total Eclipse
By Nate Beeler ©2017, The Columbus Dispatch
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

      

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Opinion - Letter

Freedom of speech and the rule of law By Paul Bergeron Sr. - What a mess. A group of people get a permit to hold a rally to protest the removal of monuments honoring the soldiers on the confederate side of the civil war.

The KKK and other extreme right wing groups get wind of it and decide to add their voice to the permitted protesters. Their agenda has never been a secret. They want a white race America and believe that a race war in the USA is the way to reach this utopian dream. They came prepared to protect and initiate violence should the opportunity arise.

The extreme left gets wind of the same rally and decides to show up ready to defend the right to dismantle said monuments in support of the powers that be. They also came prepared to protect and initiate harm to their opponents.

Both of these groups represent tiny minorities of our population. The vast majority of people in the USA believe in the Constitution of the United States.

The first amendment of the Constitution has only about 45 words in it. Look it up. It is crystal clear that the people have a right to PEACEABLE assemble.

Since the election of President Trump, the powers that be seem to have ignored the peaceable part of the first amendment and allowed the far left to violently assemble. Each incident on the part of the extreme left has for the most part has been ignored by law enforcement. This has to stop or more and greater acts of terror will take place. - More...
Monday AM - August 21, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Statues today, books tomorrow By A.M. Johnson - Confederate statues today, book burnings tomorrow?

Public Announcement: Please DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT use the $1 $2 $50 or the $100 bills. They have pictures of former slave owners on them! Send them all to me and I will dispose of them properly! - More...
Monday AM - August 21, 2017

Opinion - Letter

We need politicians with courage and ideals By Norbert Chaudhary - The violence, death and injuries that occurred in Virginia was completely predictable and given the direction the President has taken this nation, pretty much inevitable. 

This sort of reaction from Far Right minions is exactly what the fear/hate blathering heads on cable TV, a.m. Radio and the internet have been driving their weak minded, low information voters to do for years. And this isn't the first time they have acted up. Remember the Bundy Ranch standoff? The armed takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge? Or the Oklahoma City bombing? There is no forgiving the carnage these 'for profit' social agitators have wreaked upon us. 

And if you add to that the Far Right politicization of the NRA encouraging violence against other Americans and the media, combined with a President who continues to appeal to his base by inciting them to look upon their fellow Americans as the enemy, then nothing that happened in Charlottesville should come as a surprise to anyone. Expect more to follow. 

For more than year now we have listened to Trump's unrelenting attacks against the media, against Obama, against Hillary, against higher education, against Democrats, against facts, against Muslims, against science, against moderate Republicans, against our global allies and against the entire US Intel Community.  - More...
Monday AM - August 21, 2017

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