Friday, March 30, 2007

In memory of our good friend Rupe

Here is an exerpt from a good article celebrating the life of our good friend, Mr. Rupe Andrews, who recently passed away after a courageous fight with cancer. Following is the link to the full article in today's Juneau Empire.

We'll miss you Rupe.


Rupe Andrews stepped down from the Alaska Board of Fisheries on March 1.

Born Sept. 18, 1929, in New Haven, Conn., he moved to Alaska in 1959 and became one of the first biologists in the sport fish division of the newly formed Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Before retiring in 1982, he spent 13 years as director of the division.

Bob Thorstenson, president of the United Fishermen of Alaska, said Andrews had a balanced perspective when it came to resource management and always kept in mind the needs of all user groups.

"He was one of the stalwarts of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for decades," Thorstenson said. "He was a part of the team that brought 20th century and 21st century fish and wildlife management to the pinnacle of success in Alaska."

He called Andrews one of the finest men ever to work on state resource issues.

"He thought first and foremost for the people and the resources of Alaska," Thorstenson said. "He was just an absolute class act, and we are just heartbroken and saddened that we weren't able to spend more time with him."

Monday, March 26, 2007

SE Seafood Transportation

AMHS Southern Gateway Shuttle Ferry Needs to be Operating in 2008

By Mike RoundMarch 25, 2007 Sunday AM

When Prince Rupert's intermodal freight facility opens October 2007, Alaska should be ready to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities that this port development will provide. The Fairview terminal will be servicing the largest container vessels in the world and running two trains with double-stacked container cars into the U.S. mid-west every single day. Ketchikan's closest neighbor to the south is about to become North America's newest major shipping port. This freight facility has the potential of substantially reducing the cost of doing business, and the cost of living, in southeast Alaska. This project is moving towards completion and connecting to it will be vital to the future economic growth and stability of southeast Alaska. North American trade with Asian countries, and specifically, China has been growing at the rate of two million tons per year. That yearly increase is equivalent to the entire volume of freight that passes annually through the Port of Vancouver, British Columbia. Expansion of existing North American ports to handle this increase has been slow and inadequate. Existing ports were intentionally sited in major high-density urban areas, since the cities themselves represented substantial markets. However, as world markets grew, transshipping to distant destinations beyond the large port cities became more important and increasingly more difficult. The congestion in cities restricts a port's ability to expand and accommodate larger facilities. Presently container ships entering existing ports may sit for days on anchor waiting to be off-loaded. North American ports are maxed out and severe bottlenecks in the flow of freight are occurring. The desperate need for more capacity to handle the ever-increasing trade with Asia has driven the development of the Prince Rupert Fairview Container Terminal. Prince Rupert has other advantages beyond being just a new facility to handle the overflow container traffic. It is the closest North American port to China; it is ice-free year round; it is connected by rail; it is the second largest deep-water port in the world; and it has essentially unlimited room for expansion. The first phase of this $575 million port development will be completed this year, 2007, and future expansion from 500,000 TEUs (Twenty foot Equivalent Units) to 2,000,000 TEUs is scheduled for completion by 2010. If necessary, the Fairview site has the potential to expand to handle over 4,000,000 TEUs. So far, the project is on budget and on time. The Fairview Container Terminal will be run by Maher Terminals of Canada a subsidiary of Maher Terminals of New York. Maher is the largest container terminal operator in the Port of New York and New Jersey and has signed a thirty-year lease to operate the Prince Rupert terminal. Maher has invested over $60 million dollars to install three huge super post panamax cranes that can lift 60 tons and reach 200 feet across the deck of the world's largest container freighters to pick cargo. These cranes will be moving containers across the dock from ship to train sometime this October. CN rail has expanded and upgraded the storage yard tracks at the terminal to hold 17,000 feet of train and has spent $155 million dollars buying and upgrading the rail lines to accommodate double stacked container cars that will haul containers all the way to the United States mid-west. 50 new locomotives have been purchased to provide the transportation needs for this increased rail service. Most large urban port facilities have a significant portion of their containers loaded on thousands of trucks, which causes traffic congestion in and around the port and slows the container transfer operation considerably. The Prince Rupert operation is unique in that it will be 98% pure inter-modal transfer of containers - that is, transferring containers from ships directly to trains. This highly efficient, high-speed transfer of containers could be the biggest impediment to Alaska's successful participation in this venture. Alaska's window of opportunity lies in the remaining 2% of capacity that allows for delivery of containers by other means, such as truck, barge and ferry. Alaska needs to be involved in the planning and administration of this facility to ensure that access for our shipping needs is accommodated. While 2% is a small fraction of the total volume, it still represents 5,000 forty-foot containers, which are the standard size containers hauled by truck. How much of those five thousand truckloads will be Alaska freight will depend on Alaska's ability and political will to take advantage of this opportunity. The Alaska Marine Highway System needs to provide ferry service that will allow southeast Alaska to connect to this "transformational" infrastructure. The Southern Gateway Shuttle ferry, presently on the drawing board for operating in 2010, has yet to be designed or funded. This important transportation link needs to transition from the drawing board to a working reality on a more stepped-up time line. Alaska will need reliable daily ferry service to the Prince Rupert facility in the summer of 2008. Presently Prince Rupert enjoys about 400,000 independent visitors per year. Most of these visitors arrive by car, train and ferry. If daily shuttle ferry service between Prince Rupert and Ketchikan is provided, southeast Alaska will definitely see an increase in the number of independent tourists. As Prince Rupert inevitably grows there will be demand for more passenger train service to the northwest and increased opportunity to attract independent travelers to Alaska. One of the existing fast ferries could be assigned this route during the seasonal high-traffic periods while the Southern Gateway Shuttle Ferry is being fabricated. This mainland terminal connection to North America could soon become the major AMHS feeder line providing needed passenger and freight revenue. With two trains per day and 108 hours travel time between Rupert and Chicago, seafood processors have the opportunity to send out fresh seafood to these new markets. Seafood is currently shipped from Alaska to China, Japan and Taiwan for reprocessing, and the Prince Rupert terminal will be looking to fill back haul containers at discounted rates. While containers imported from China to North America will likely be assessed a rate of between $3500 to $4500 back-haul export rates should be between $300 and $700. With the shipping and transportation opportunities offered by this facility, there will be advantages and incentives for new manufacturing businesses to set up shop and do business in southeast Alaska. Businesses producing manufactured wood products or supplying shelf-stable, value-added seafood products produced in southeast Alaska could bring year round stability to our seasonal economies. Connecting Alaska to Prince Rupert with reliable daily ferry service is vital to Alaska's economic interests. If businesses can fill a shipping container, they should be able to take advantage of the competitive freight rates offered by this new facility. Alaska needs to be involved with and focused on connecting to this "new world of opportunity" coming this year to our southern border.

Mike RoundKetchikan, AK

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

UFA on Fish Farming in the EEZ

Fishermen group opposes proposal
A Juneau-based commercial fishermen advocacy group staunchly opposes the latest Bush administration-backed proposal to further fish farming.

"(United Fishermen of Alaska) opposes fish farms anytime, anywhere, any place. Inshore. Offshore. Period," said Bob Thorstenson, the organization's president and a Juneau-based seiner.
"Even if it is done halfway across the country, subsidized fish farms are going to compete with our product," he said. "No ifs, ands, or buts."

The plan introduced Monday by Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez would allow companies to operate fish farms in federal waters three to 200 miles offshore.
The plan is largely similar to one that was introduced in 2005 and won little support in Congress. The latest plan would set up a framework for permits, regulation and environmental oversight with the aim of making the United States more competitive in the $70 billion industry.
"I think we need to stop perpetuating the misconceptions and myths that are circulating about aquaculture. Fishing and aquaculture are complementary technologies," said Bill Hogarth, director of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Service, in a teleconference Monday.
"It is not a competition between wild harvesting and aquaculture," he said. "This is a complementary process."

Alaska fishermen don't see it the same way.

Overseas fish farming nearly crippled the salmon fishing industry in the 1990s, when it caused prices to drop. It has taken several years and thousands of dollars in marketing to bring the market back.
"It was not only Alaska's salmon that took a big hit with the over-proliferation of overseas fish farms," warned Bruce Wallace, a seiner and UFA board member who has closely followed the issue.
"Farm fish prices also dropped in half," he said.
The latest plan would allow states more control over protecting their wild stock by allowing them to opt out of permitting seafood farms within 12 miles of shore.
Many of Alaska's seafood species are highly transitory, Wallace said, meaning the proposed framework wouldn't work in Alaska.
"We don't want them anywhere off our waters. We already have enough problems with British Columbia's fish farms," said Mark Vinsel, executive director of UFA.
UFA would support an opt-out provision that extended to the 200-mile limit, he said.
Wallace said a better way to boost the country's edge in the world seafood market would be to help Alaskans sell more fish.

"We have fish here that is not getting to market," he said.
The fishermen's group is formulating an opposition strategy.

"We will voice our opposition as a group. We will work hard with (Sen.) Ted (Stevens) and (Sen.) Lisa (Murkowski) and (Rep.) Don (Young) and with the administration and with Gov. Palin," Thorstenson said. "We believe that all of Alaska's leadership will be supportive."

United Fishermen of Alaska recently announced its all-time membership high of 36 member groups, representing commercial fishing interests throughout the state.
A decade ago, the group's membership totaled 16 members, Thorstenson said.

• Brittany Retherford can be reached at Fishermen group opposes proposal

Monday, March 12, 2007

UFA reaches alltime high membership

March 9, 2007 Contact: Mark Vinsel
For Immediate Release Executive Director

UFA Reaches All-Time High Group Membership, Announces New Officers

With the addition of the Alaska Trollers Association, the United Cook Inlet Drift Association and the Alaska Shellfish Association, United Fishermen of Alaska group membership has reached an all-time high of 36 member groups.

“This marks a milestone for UFA and points to the strength and breadth of UFA as the statewide commercial fishing umbrella association,” said UFA President Bob Thorstenson Jr.
“The more groups we have at the UFA table, the more inclusive is our process and the stronger our voice is on the issues we hold in common.”

UFA President Thorstenson, who is stepping down after seven years service in the volunteer position, will be replaced by Joe Childers. Childers, who currently trolls for salmon from Juneau, represents Western Gulf of Alaska Fishermen on the UFA board and was elected to serve as its next president at UFA’s January meeting. Deborah Lyons of Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association was elected as Vice President, formerly held by Childers. Duncan Fields will continue in his position as Secretary. The new officer positions take effect on June15.

UFA’s board of directors includes the 36 member groups and four at-large representatives elected by individual members. Elections for UFA’s four at-large board seats will be conducted this spring.


Alaska Crab Coalition • Alaska Draggers Association • Alaska Independent Tendermen’s Association • Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association
Alaska Shellfish Association • Alaska Trollers Association • Armstrong Keta At-sea Processors Association • Bristol Bay Reserve
Concerned Area “M” Fishermen • Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association • Cordova District Fishermen United • Crab Group of Independent Harvesters
Douglas Island Pink and Chum • Fishing Vessel Owners Association • Groundfish Forum • Kenai Peninsula Fishermen’s Association
Kodiak Regional Aquaculture Association • North Pacific Fisheries Association • Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association
Old Harbor Fishermen’s Association • Petersburg Vessel Owners Association • Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation
Purse Seine Vessel Owner Association • Seafood Producers Cooperative • Sitka Herring Association • Southeast Alaska Fisherman's Alliance
Southeast Alaska Regional Dive Fisheries Association • Southeast Alaska Seiners Association • Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association
United Catcher Boats • United Cook Inlet Drift Association • United Salmon Association • United Southeast Alaska Gillnetters
Valdez Fisheries Development Association • Western Gulf of Alaska Fishermen

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Larry Edfelt named to Board of Fisheries

Web posted March 9, 2007 Juneau's Edfelt named to Board of Fisheries Appointee was on board before between 1992-97
Larry Edfelt of Juneau was appointed Thursday to fill the remainder of a vacated term on the Alaska Board of Fisheries, Gov. Sarah Palin's office announced. He replaces Rupe Andrews, another Juneau resident, who resigned last month.

Sound off on the important issues at "We are pleased and I don't think there could be a better fit for Rupe Andrews' seat. Mr. Edfelt has an extensive biological background, he is highly thought of in the scientific area. He understands our fisheries well," said Bob Thorstenson, executive director of Southeast Alaska Seiners Association.
"If there were going to be someone who is like-minded (to Andrews) and would take a balanced view toward sport, commercial and sport, we couldn't have picked a better guy," he said.
Palin said it was Edfelt's knowledge of Alaska fisheries, his vision and his temperament that prompted her selection for the board, which makes decisions regarding how the state's fisheries resources are managed.
"I am honored that someone of Larry's stature and experience has agreed to come back and serve the state again on this important board," Palin said in a prepared statement.
Edfelt served on the board from 1992-97. In 1986, he retired from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, where he worked for 23 years.
During that time, he served in a variety of roles - as a fisheries biologist, deputy director of commercial fisheries and assistant executive director of the boards of Fisheries and Game.

The Muskegger
Visit Brittany Retherford's blog in which she delves a bit deeper into Southeast's natural resources.
Post your comments and check out other people's remarks at "The Muskegger".He has also worked as a charter boat owner and operator.
The seven members of the board are appointed by the governor and subject to legislative confirmation.
The board is involved in setting seasons, bag limits, methods and means for subsistence hunting and fishing, commercial sport, guided sport and personal-use fisheries.
It also has a role in setting policy and direction for the management of the state's fishery resources. The board is charged with making allocative decisions, while the Department of Fish and Game is responsible for management based on those decisions.
Edfelt will participate as a voting member at the board's next meeting in Anchorage from March 9 to March 13.
"We thank Rupe for his service," said Mark Vinsel, executive director of United Fishermen of Alaska, a fishermen advocacy group.
• Brittany Retherford can be reached at

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Summer 2007

This from last months Alaska Coastal Journal.

Banner year predicted for salmon harvest
By the Journal
State projections of a 2007 salmon harvest of 179 million fish are buoying a commercial fisheries fleet hoping to feed a growing world hunger for wild Alaska salmon.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued its forecast Feb. 2, anticipating that the harvest will include 108 million pinks, 40.9 million sockeyes, 24.8 million chum, 4.8 million silvers and 789,000 kings.
That was good news to commercial fishermen like Robert Thorstenson Jr., executive director of the Southeast Alaska Seiners Association, and president of United Fishermen of Alaska.
“The state is predicting 47 million pinks, and the National Marine Fisheries Service is predicting 39 million,” Thorstenson said. “My prediction is 55 million pinks.”
Thorstenson and other Southeast Alaska fishers got socked by a much lower-than-expected pink salmon harvest a year ago, due to a very weak 2006 pink salmon run into Southeast Alaska. The overall pink forecast was for 108 million fish, but the harvest came in at 73 million pinks. “The lack of fish really hurt us on price because the processor costs were so high,” Thorstenson said in an interview Feb. 6. “That's what my processor told me, and that's what other fishermen were told by their processors. The processors didn't have enough production to cover their net.”
Thorstenson said he expects things to be different in 2007, and that processors will be gearing up to harvest the big run.
Fisheries economist Chris McDowell in Juneau, also a commercial fisherman, agreed that in all likelihood the processing sector would rise to the occasion. “We saw that in 2005,” McDowell said.
“We have had a series of enormous pink returns, but the question has been how many fish will the market bear. Considering the recent increase in demand for pinks on the world market, I think we will see fairly strong market demand,” he said.
McDowell was also optimistic about markets for sockeye, cohos, chums and the ever-popular kings, which garnered fishermen $2.77 a pound at the docks last year, the highest prices on record for years.
“It speaks to the health of the market for wild salmon,” he said.