King salmon

by Ben Matheson, KYUK

Federal staff will again manage king salmon on the lower Kuskokwim River after requests from tribes. Earlier this year, a handful of tribal governments asked the federal subsistence board to implement federal management. The Federal Subsistence Board deferred last month, but at a Friday meeting of the Kuskokwim River Salmon Management Working group, US Fish and Wildlife Service leaders announced a plan for federal management.

By Daysha Eaton, KYUK

The Alaska Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court’s decision that Yup’ik Fishermen who fished for King salmon during a state closure should be convicted. The decision was issued Friday (March 27). 

The Attorney for the Yup’ik Fishermen is James Davis with the Northern Justice Project. He says the court asked the wrong question:

Anchorage judge sets Sept. 26 as the date for arguments

An Anchorage judge has set Sept. 26 for arguments in the lawsuit against Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and Elections Director Gail Fenumiai over an emergency order that allowed two candidates for governor to merge their campaigns. Democratic nominee Byron Mallott is running for Lt. Gov. with independent candidate for Governor Bill Walker.

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Today [Tuesday], the Alaska Court of Appeals in Anchorage will hear arguments about whether fishermen who fished during a closure were wrongfully convicted. In the summer of 2012, the number of Chinook, or king salmon, returning to the lower Kuskokwim River to spawn was low. Fishing for kings is integral to Yup'ik spirituality, however, so dozens of people fished in defiance of an emergency closure. Many were arrested, and thirteen decided to appeal their convictions.

Enough king salmon have gone upriver to spawn so state biologists opened the lower Kuskokwim salmon fishery on Friday; it had been closed since May 20.

Kuskokwim River villagers warn fisheries managers of talk about armed conflict and civil disobedience over closures that are leaving fish racks and freezers empty during the normally busy fishing season. Managers say biology, not protests, will decide when fisheries will be opened, and their count shows promising numbers of salmon are returning to spawn. An opening may come as early as this weekend.

A tribal administrator in Eastern Interior Alaska admits to $23,000 embezzlement.

It's less smoky than yesterday but smoke from two Southcentral Alaska wildfires is expected to return when the wind shifts over the weekend.  Water-scooping aircraft is being deployed today to protect Kasilof from the Funny River fire on the Kenai Peninsula, which has grown to 63,000 acres, and is 3.5 miles from a Kasilof subdivision. On the west side of Cook Inlet, the Tyonek fire has grown to 1,800 acres. Firefighters have completed dozer lines removing potential fuel sources around the Beluga power plant, which supplies electricity to half of Anchorage.

A trial is scheduled for next month in a case alleging failure by the state to provide accurate translations of voting materials into Alaska Native languages.

A short subsistence opening is scheduled for the Kuskokwim River, where returns of spawning king salmon was the lowest on record last year.

Likewise on the Yukon River, returns are expected to be even lower than last year, which were the lowest on record. Commercial, sport, and subsistence fisheries on the entire Yukon River drainage area will be closed.

The Great Land Trust plans to buy the top of Bodenburg Butte in Palmer from the Alaska Mental Health Lands Trust and donate it to the Mat-Su Borough, if it can raise the $187,500 purchase price.

The Yupiit Nation lays out a strategy for dealing with this summer's king salmon closures and avoiding civil disobedience.

The City of Bethel is investigating employee violations ranging from nepotism, personnel policies and leave policies, to credit card use, procurement, and travel.

Alaska Republicans have adopted a new rule requiring those elected as party chair, vice-chair to have been registered Republicans for at least four years immediately preceding the election.

Warm, dry, windy weather is creating a fire hazard in Southeast Alaska's Tongass rainforest, where wildfires are uncommon.

Also in Southeast Alaska, the state's forecast for king salmon returns this season are double those of last year.

Alaskans are saying goodbye to their longest-serving representative; Carl Moses died at age 84.

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