Editor’s note: The following story is now available in the September issue of Alaska Sporting Journal
Editor’s note: The following story is now available in the September issue of Alaska Sporting Journal
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed shutting down brown bear hunting at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge until May 31, 2015.
That’s not going to sit well within Alaska’s borders.
Using state data from the last two decades, refuge manager Andy Loranger said the population of brown bears has declined 18 percent on the Kenai Peninsula because of human-caused deaths. The service proposed a temporary closure of the brown-bear hunting season effective Sept. 1 to May 31, 2015 as a “protective measure to ensure consistency with refuge mandates.”
More liberal hunting regulations were enacted in 2012 by the Alaska Board of Game. As a result, 168 brown bears, including 42 adult sows, have been killed in the last three years, refuge supervisory biologist John Morton said.
“In a small population. If you kill a lot of bears, it will have an impact,” Morton said. “This is why a cautious approach is warranted. The refuge is mandated by Congress to conserve wildlife population – and that includes brown bears.”
Last October, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service implemented a 30-day emergency closure on the refuge. To date this year, 54 brown bears have been killed, including five adult sows, 52 through hunting. Alaska’s Fish and Game agency has set a cap to not exceed 70 bears and that adult-sow mortalities not exceed 17, The Peninsula Clarion reports (http://bit.ly/1CedFXs).
Locals and state officials weren’t convinced.
“What is missing from the discussion is the requests from the public to respond to increasing brown bear populations and negative interactions,” said Doug Vincent-Lang, director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “The refuge is more on management philosophy and ethics than resource conservation. . No definition of natural diversity is offered. I don’t believe the intention of Congress was to allow the federal government to hold such power over fish and wildlife that have been recognized as a state resource.”
Here’s a sample of the report:
We believe the biological information the Service has provided to justify this closure is incomplete and in some cases inaccurate. For instance, the Service asserts that brown bear population densities on the
2 Director’s Comments/USFWS Proposal to Pre-empt State Brown Bear Regs.
Kenai Peninsula should be comparable to those on the Katmai coast, Kodiak archipelago, and portions of southeast Alaska. While all of these bear populations have access to salmon as a food source, the bears on the Kenai lack the access to rich intertidal areas and sedge flats that typify true coastal bear
populations. Expecting brown bear densities on the Kenai Peninsula to match those of true coastal populations elsewhere and managing accordingly is not reasonable, particularly when coupled with the
increased level of human influence on the Kenai.
Unfortunately, Service news releases and background information regarding the current abundance of
brown bears on the Kenai Peninsula inaccurately indicate a finite, static bear population. In other words, it’s like we had a bank account of 600 bears in 2010 and there have been no new ones coming into the
account and every bear killed is a net loss to the account. It is important to recognize that while there has been harvest of bears there has also been recruitment to the population through birth. In fact, in
many Alaska brown bear populations, increased harvest of adult males results in increased cub survival and potentially increased sub-adult survival. We are working with service biologists to develop more
accurate models to predict population trends under various harvest scenarios and expect to have that
work completed by the time the Board of Game meets to consider harvest regulations this spring. In the meantime, we do not agree with the Service’s decision to take management action based on an
inaccurate method of predicting population effects.
In summary, the State of Alaska believes state harvest regulations are sufficiently conservative to ensure the long-term sustainability of the brown bear population on the Kenai Peninsula, and disagrees with the
Service’s decision to restrict hunting opportunity.
Photo courtesy of Waterfall Resort
Gretchen Porter is the Reigning Queen of Waterfall Resort’s
2014 $100K “King of Kings” Tournament in Alaska
Newport Beach, CA’s petite resident catches the biggest king salmon of the season:
A whopping 65.5 lbs!
Ketchikan, Alaska – September 2, 2014 – Gretchen Porter of Newport Beach, CA became the “Queen of Kings” in Waterfall Resort’s 26th annual$100K “King of Kings” Salmon Tournament by reeling in the largest catch of the 2014 season: a 65.5 lb king salmon (Chinook) that weighed more than half her body weight. Porter is no stranger to victory at Waterfall Resort, in 2004 she captured the resort’s record for the biggest king salmon ever caught: a whopping 79.2 lbs, just 10 inches shorter than Porter. An exclusive competition for guests of Waterfall Resort, both novice and avid anglers alike vied for the top spot and bragging rights during the 2014 season, from June 13 through August 18, 2014.
Following daily fishing excursions, resort guests weighed-in their wild Alaskan king salmon to see who won “King of the Day.” Tournament prizes included cash payouts, free trips back to the Resort, Cabela’s Outdoor merchandise, International Princess Cruises, a Ford Truck and more. During the 2014 season, Southeast Alaska experienced some of the best fishing in years due to improved king salmon fishing limits as set by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game allowing some guests to take home double their peak season Chinook catch over last year.
Established in 1912, Waterfall Resort was once a fish cannery that broke records for the sheer volume of seafood it caught and exported all over the world. In 1983, The Waterfall Group transformed the property into one of the finest remote sport-fishing destinations in the world. Just a 90-minute flight from Seattle, its unparalleled location on Prince of Wales Island adjacent Alaska’s Inside Passage combined with its all-inclusive four-star guest service, expert guides, historic accommodations, and distinct culinary offerings make for an unforgettable experience year after year.
Waterfall Resort guests participated in the 2014 $100,000 “King of Kings” Salmon Tournament as part of their stay for an additional entry fee of $75, which was valid for the full summer season.
Photo courtesy of Nyle Lightcap Homer/Chamber of Commerce
Jackson Hobbs has quite a tale to tell to fellow Eagle Scouts. He caught a 335-pound halibut that put him as the leader in the clubhouse during the Homer Jackpot Halibut Derby. This could turn out to be very profitable visit to the Last Frontier for Hobbs, who was vacationing from his home in Franklin, Idaho.
From the Anchorage Daily News/Alaska Dispatch:
Fishing aboard the Venturess with skipper Travis Larson of Alaska Premier Sportfishing, Hobbs, 16, hauled in a monster 335-pound fish that bested the previous leader by more than 57 pounds.
Homer Chamber of Commerce director Jim Lavrakas said official derby records don’t list the age of previous champions, but nobody he’s spoken with can remember a younger angler winning the derby, which began in 1986.
“We believe this is the youngest possible derby winner in derby history,” Lavrakas said Wednesday from Homer.
If Hobbs’ fish remains the derby leader through the event’s Sept. 15 conclusion, he’ll take home at least $10,000. Before Hobbs weighed his fish, only one halibut weighing more than 200 pounds was on the leaderboard.
The fish was turned in just half an hour before Tuesday night’s 9 p.m. deadline, narrowly escaping disqualification. Derby rules say any fish has to be caught the same day it’s punched on an angler’s derby ticket. Between the late weigh-in and the large size of the fish, Lavrakas speculated the fishing party must have gone far out of port to land the leviathan.
Hobbs reportedly told derby officials the fish “only took a half-hour to bring in.”
We’re rooting for you to take home the big money, Travis!
Last winter, we profiled the Discovery Channel show, Bering Sea Gold, focusing our story on opera singer/gold dredger Emily Riedel. The show returns with a new season on Friday night; here are some details on the upcoming season, plus couple preview links:
DISCOVERY’S HIT SERIES ‘BERING SEA GOLD’ RETURNS FOR ITS FOURTH SEASON WITH CREWS BATTLING AGAINST EXTREME CONDITIONS AND EACH OTHER FOR THE ULTIMATE PAYOUT
Series Premieres on Friday, August 22, at 9 PM E/P on the Discovery Channel
(Los Angeles, Calif.) – The ambitious treasure hunters are back at it again. Life isn’t easy for the gold dredgers in the frontier town of Nome, Alaska. But that doesn’t stop them from hunting gold in one of the world’s most inhospitable places – the bottom of the frozen Bering Sea beneath four feet thick sheets of ice. From Original Productions, creators of the multiple Emmy Award-winning series DEADLIEST CATCH, the fourth season of BERING SEA GOLD premieres Friday, August 22, at 9 PM E/P on the Discovery Channel.
To the Nome dredging fleet, gold equals freedom. This year, the fortune seekers head out in search of the American dream – each determined to top last year’s record-setting gold haul. But can they put their personal battles aside, withstand the arctic environment and concentrate on finding treasure?
After establishing herself as a successful captain, 26-year-old Emily Riedel is back at it again with a brand new, expensive state-of-the-art ice dredge. Facing major debt, Emily is feeling the pressure to find gold fast and prove that her success as Nome’s first and only female dredge owner was not a fluke. Meanwhile, Emily’s eccentric father, Steve Riedel, is sidelined and planning his ultimate comeback after bottoming out and losing his dredge to the repo man. The Pomrenke duo are back at it as well – this father/son team pulled in a record-setting haul last summer but Shawn Pomrenke, the self-proclaimed “Mr. Gold,” has never succeeded under the ice. This year’s ice season crews include:
Emily Riedel returns to Nome to try and strike it rich on the news season of Bering Sea Gold. (DISCOVERY CHANNEL)
BERING SEA GOLD reveals the real-life dangers of a job with no typical day at the office. As each day passes, the ambitious fortune seekers have only one option: find the gold before debt takes hold. BERING SEA GOLD is produced for Discovery Channel by Original Productions, a Fremantle Media company. For Original Productions, executive producers are Thom Beers, Philip D. Segal, Jeff Conroy and John Gray and Sean Dash. For Discovery Channel, Executive Producer is David Pritikin.
About Discovery Channel
Discovery Channel is dedicated to creating the highest quality non-fiction content that informs and entertains its consumers about the world in all its wonder, diversity and amazement. The network, which is distributed to 100.8 million U.S. homes, can be seen in 210 countries and territories, offering a signature mix of compelling, high-end production values and vivid cinematography across genres including, science and technology, exploration, adventure, history and in-depth, behind-the-scenes glimpses at the people, places and organizations that shape and share our world. For more information, please visitwww.discovery.com.
Deadliest Catch, the Discovery Channel’s ode to Alaskan crab boat skippers and their crews, has appeared on our cover twice this year (see above), and we were excited to see the show that’s now in its 10th season scored bit at the 2014 Primetime Creative Arts Emmys earlier this month. Congrats, guys!
Here’s the release from our friends at the Discovery Channel:
Discovery Channel’s DEADLIEST CATCH won big at the 2014 Primetime Creative Arts Emmys® on Saturday, August 16, taking home three awards including a win for Outstanding Unstructured Reality Program. The series, which recently wrapped its landmark 10th season on Discovery Channel, also won for Outstanding Cinematography for Reality Programming and Outstanding Picture Editing for Reality Programming.
These latest wins are in addition to an Interactive Emmy for Multiplatform Storytelling for SKYWIRE LIVE WITH NIK WALLENDA. The companion website for the live event for tightrope walker Nik Wallenda’s epic walk over the Grand Canyon featured compelling video, 360-degree interactive views, backstage moments, real-time social updates and many other digital elements.
DEADLIEST CATCH profiles the men who risk everything to work the most dangerous job in the world – crab fishing in the icy, treacherous waters of Alaska’s Bering Sea. This past season of Deadliest Catch had a ratings streak, as the #1 show on cable on Tuesday nights among key demos for 16 consecutive weeks.
In the Emmy®-winning season 10 premiere, the wary veteran skippers cement their legacies on the Bering Sea with the young guns trying to create their own… But they better be careful what they wish for. This King Crab season they are here to stay, but it’s not going to be easy. A government shutdown shortens the season, which starts off a series of dangerous chain reactions that force the fleet to fish harder and faster to make the market deadline.
DEADLIEST CATCH is produced for Discovery Channel by Original Productions, a FremantleMedia Company. The following people were recognized for their work on DEADLIEST CATCH:
OUTSTANDING UNSTRUCTURED REALITY PROGRAM (DEADLIEST CATCH)
Thom Beers, Executive Producer
Jeff Conroy, Executive Producer
John Gray, Executive Producer
David Pritikin, Executive Producer
R. Decker Watson, Jr., Co-Executive Producer
Johnny Beechler, Supervising Producer
Geoff Miller, Supervising Producer
OUTSTANDING CINEMATOGRAPHY FOR REALITY PROGRAMMING (DEADLIEST CATCH)
OUTSTANDING PICTURE EDITING FOR REALITY PROGRAMMING (DEADLIEST CATCH)
Josh Earl, A.C.E., Supervising Editor
Rob Butler, A.C.E., Editor
Art O’Leary, Editor
From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
The collapse of the Mount Polley tailings dam “validates fears Alaska fishermen have regarding Canada’s proposed development of large-scale hardrock mineral mines near transboundary rivers with Alaska,” Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, wrote to Secretary of State John Kerry.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who has opposed EPA intervention at the Pebble Mine near Bristol Bay, asked Kerry to intervene to ensure regulation at Canadian mines.
“The tailings breach at Mount Polley mine … has renewed the specter of environmental impacts from large scale hard rock mineral developments in Canada that are located near transboundary rivers,” Murkowski wrote.
“Thousands of Alaska natives, commercial fishermen, and tourism industry shareholders have legitimate concerns about the potential impacts that large scale mining in Canada could hold for them.” …
Environmental Protection on the concern regarding the proposed Pebble Mine project:
“We don’t want this to happen in Bristol Bay,” said Kim Williams, director of Nunamta Aulukestai, an association of Alaska Native Tribes and corporations. “With all the similarities between Pebble and the Mount Polley copper mine, we’re urging the EPA to take immediate action to finalize mine waste restrictions in Bristol Bay,” she continued.
On Monday, a tailings dam failure caused over five million cubic meters of wastewater to spill from Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley copper and gold mine, flowing into the headwaters of the Fraser River watershed, and causing officials to enact a number of water use and drinking water bans. The Mount Polley Mine in B.C. and the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska are both large, open pit, copper porphyry mines, with a modern tailings dam design, located at the headwaters of an important fishery.
“Our research shows that these tailings dam failures are far more common than the industry wants to admit,” said Bonnie Gestring of Earthworks northwest office. “In the U.S. more than a quarter of the currently operating copper porphyry mines have experienced partial or total tailings pond failures.” She continued, “That’s why the EPA’s plan to restrict mine waste in the Bristol Bay watershed is so critical to the future of our nation’s most valuable wild salmon fishery, ”
Such an event will only add to the tension.
Our friends at the Discovery Channel have been great in setting us up with some interviews to do profiles on both Johnathan Hillstrand, captain of the crabbing vessel Time Bandit, and the Northwestern father and daughter team of Capt. Sig Hansen and his new deckhand, Mandy Hansen.
The show’s 10th season finale is this Tuesday, Aug. 5. Here are some photos courtesy of Discovery:
Alaska’s Pebble Mine opposition is feeling a little miffed right now. Word is out that Gov. Sean Parnell has named Ben Mohr as his “fisheries advisor.” A big deal? Well, if you factor in that Mohr spent six years representing the fisherman’s biggest enemy, the Pebble Mine project.
You can only assume how this news is being received in the Last Frontier:
This is the time of year year when the governor appoints people to official positions. Parnell is delivering a couple of real doozies. In searching high and low (especially low) for a fisheries advisor, the governor landed on the six-year spokesmodel for the Pebble mine project, a guy named Ben Mohr. You know Pebble, the project that plans to build a giant poison lake at the headwaters of Alaska’s most productive salmon rivers. Mohr is definitely a guy you want making policy to ensure the health of our fisheries for the next millennium.
In 2011, the governor appointed Mohr to the board of directors of the Alaska Humanities Forum because … well, I have no idea. Good grooming comes to mind.
Yes, the guy who pimped Pebble and then worked as campaign manager for Ohio’s golden boy, Dan Sullivan, is now advising the governor on fisheries policy. Good thing we care so little about our fish that we’re comfortable letting political hacks manage them.
Alaska Governor Sean Parnell’s recent selection of the next fisheries advisor is likely to leave some scratching their heads.
He appointed Ben Mohr, who worked for the Pebble Partnership and worked for years as a Pebble Partnership employee, reports Fish Radio.
“Alaskans overwhelmingly oppose the Pebble Mine, yet Parnell has done everything in his power to push this mine through the permitting process and wreak havoc on Bristol Bay’s valuable fishery,” Kay Brown, executive director of the Alaska Democratic Party, said.
Ben Mohr has been appointed by Parnell to replace Stephanie Moreland. Mohr worked six years as a spokesperson for the Pebble Partnership. He also has worked as a campaign manager for Dan Sullivan, the candidate for U.S. Senate who previously pushed for Pebble mine as DNR Commissioner.
Northern Dynasty is attempting to develop a copper, molybdenum, and gold deposit on state land despite peer-reviewed scientific studies finding that the mine would negatively impact salmon in Bristol Bay. Local Lake and Peninsula Borough residents passed an ordinance opposing Pebble Mine, and public opinion polls show overwhelming bipartisan opposition to the project.
Ben Mohr is just the latest controversial appointment of Parnell’s.
And that’s the way it is on a Thursday in Alaska.
You could see this one coming.
All the signs were dismal pointing toward the 2014 Kenai River king salmon season. Then came the news the famed river would be closed to fishing until July 1.
Now comes the sobering news the Kenai will be closed to all sport and commercial fishing for the remainder of the season that was scheduled to run through July 31.
Just last week, the river was limited to a first: catch-and-release only with barbless hooks due to declining return projections.
From the Peninsula Clarion:
The closure, effective Saturday, triggers a closure of commercial setnet fishing on the East Side of Cook Inlet and is meant to conserve Kenai-bound king salmon which are not currently projected to return in large enough numbers to make the escapement goal on the Kenai River.
As of July 23, the sonar estimate of king salmon passage into the Kenai River was 8,023 fish and current projections put the final escapement between 13,500 and 14,000 fish — below the river’s escapement goal range of 15,000-30,000 fish.
Daily estimates of king salmon passage into the river have remained in the low hundreds of fish — the highest passage to date was Sunday, which saw more than 1,000 fish pass the sonar. Counts have since dropped significantly.
Fish and Game sport fish division area management biologist Robert Begich said the high passage on Sunday helped bump projections upward but continued low counts kept projections lower than what is needed to make the escapement goal.
Begich said projections would have to increase dramatically for the fishery to be reopened.
“If 5,000 kings came into the river overnight, if a miracle happened, yeah we’d turn it back on,” he said. “We just want to make the goal and it’s just a day-to-day thing. It’s going to take a lot to (reopen).”