Joshua Gould officially charged with murdering parents

Posted on: July 18th, 2024 | Author: Theo Greenly | Filed under: Aleutians East Borough, Community Window, KSDP Programs

A man from King Cove is now charged with murder after his parents died earlier this year in Anchorage following a house fire.

Joshua Gould is facing more than a half-dozen charges including two counts of first-degree murder and a count of arson in the deaths of James and Kathryn Gould.

Rumors of Joshua Gould’s detainment have circulated widely on social media in recent months, but charges were not formally filed until Wednesday.

Gould’s parents were longtime residents of King Cove, an Aleutian fishing community, and lived part-time in Anchorage. Their Anchorage home was burned down in February and their death certificates say they died of smoke inhalation and thermal burns.

Gould has a history of violent offenses, and was put on probation for domestic assault in April. 

He’s scheduled to appear in court Friday on the new charges.

King Cove hit hard by seafood cannery closure

Posted on: July 17th, 2024 | Author: Theo Greenly | Filed under: 830AM KSDP Radio News, Aleutians East Borough, Community Window, Fisheries News, KSDP Programs

Peter Pan’s grounds are normally bustling with workers, but the boardwalks and bunkhouses are now empty.

Alaska’s fishing industry has faced major challenges this past year. Low fish prices and high overhead costs have led some of the industry’s biggest players to sell or shutter their processing plants, sending shock waves through the coastal communities who rely on those canneries.

Perhaps no other community has been harder hit than the small city of King Cove, near the tip of the Alaska Peninsula, 600 miles from Anchorage, the closest major city. 

Its only seafood processor closed almost overnight this spring, and the city is reeling, not only from the loss of 75% of its revenue, but from the larger questions of the city’s survival.

King Cove didn’t even exist until 1911 when a seafood company, Pacific American Fisheries, opened a salmon cannery, and Unangax̂ folks moved in from surrounding villages to work there.

That fish processing plant grew to become one of Alaska’s largest. Peter Pan Seafood Co. employs about 700 seasonal workers at its King Cove facility during a typical summer. That means housing 700 people in company bunkhouses, and feeding those people daily.

The freezers and pantries were packed when the cannery, burdened by debt, closed, just before salmon season, so the company gave the food away to the community. 

Ernie Newman, 65, just retired from a lifelong fishing career. Like most folks in town, he’s a company man.

“I fished for Peter Pan all my life, tendered for ‘em,” Newman said.

He was one of about 100 residents who attended the pop-up pantry at King Cove’s old school, filling his shopping cart with canned pineapple and pancake mix.

Community members attended a pop-up pantry on June 14, picking up food left behind by the seafood company’s last-minute closure.

“Peter Pan finally doin’ us a favor,” Newman said. “Oh, dandy.”

City Clerk Cora Rocili helped organize the food drive. Another lifelong resident, her parents met at the cannery, and she grew up living in company housing and hanging around the fish plant with the other workers’ kids.

“They called us the Peter Pan Brats,” Rocili said. 

Just about every business in town revolves around fishing. Rocili moonlights as a bartender at MC’s Bar, near the harbor. But she says the bar is empty these days. 

Everybody’s affected by what’s going on with Peter Pan. It’s sad to see. It’s definitely something I never expected to see,” she said.

Local business-owner Lillian Sager runs a food truck, and she said her business has been cut in half, forcing her and her husband to make a tough decision.

“We’re moving,” Sager said. “This is our home. This is where you know, our ancestors lived and we want to stay here, but we’re moving to Washington [State].”

Many of the folks in town are direct descendants of the Unangax̂ and European families who founded the town. That includes Mayor Warren Wilson, a third-generation King Cove fisherman who also runs a boat welding service. He said one of his welders has also moved away to find work, a trend he finds troubling.

Mayor Warren Wilson is a third-generation King Cove fisherman. He hopes the city can attract another seafood company to buy the Peter Pan facility.

“Once you start losing your population, you lose your school, and once you start losing your school, you lose children. Once you start losing children, you lose smiley faces, and then you don’t hear the laughter anymore. That’s when your community is going to die,” he said.

Wilson hopes the city can convince another seafood company to buy the Peter Pan facility. An Alaska-based company took over some of Peter Pan’s other facilities earlier this year, but didn’t purchase the King Cove plant. The town is hoping that someone comes along soon. Nobody made an offer in time for the summer salmon season, so folks are hoping it happens in time for fall.

MP3+PDF: Aleutians East Borough Assembly Meeting – July17th, 2024

Posted on: July 17th, 2024 | Author: General Manager | Filed under: Aleutians East Borough, Community Window, KSDP Programs

The Aleutians East Borough Assembly is holding a special meeting on Wednesday, July 17th, 2024 at 1:00 PM.

KSDP will air the meeting live & archive the audio here:
https://apradio.org/mp3/2024-07-17-aeb.mp3

AGENDA+PACKET:
https://www.aleutianseast.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/07/July-17-2024-ASSEMBLY_MTG_AGENDA.pdf
https://www.aleutianseast.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/07/July-17-2024-Special-Assembly-Meeting.pdf

PDF+MP3: AEBSD Special Meeting – July 10, 2024 at 12pm

Posted on: July 10th, 2024 | Author: Amy M. | Filed under: Community Window

Aleutians East Borough School District
Special Meeting of the School Board
Wed., July 10th, 2024 at 12:00PM
Meeting will be held via Zoom

KSDP will air the meeting live & archive the audio here:
https://apradio.org/mp3/2024-07-10-aebsd.mp3

Agenda+Packet (PDF):
https://www.aebsd.org/page/board-packets

Board Packet for July 10, 2024 Special School Board Meeting

Elementary school fire does not appear suspicious, say city officials

Posted on: July 9th, 2024 | Author: Theo Greenly | Filed under: 830AM KSDP Radio News, Community Window, KSDP Programs

Updated at 11:49 p.m. on July 5, 2024.

The cause of a fire at Eagles View Elementary School on July 4 remains unknown but does not appear suspicious, according to a Thursday night statement from the City of Unalaska.

“The cause of the fire is currently under investigation, but does not appear to be suspicious in nature,” the statement said.

The Unalaska Fire Department responded to an automatic fire alarm at the school at approximately 11:45 p.m. Wednesday.

Firefighters did not observe visible signs of fire from outside, but discovered smoke and elevated carbon monoxide levels upon entering the building.

A power outage originally complicated the response, but firefighters still managed to pinpoint the fire’s location.

“Fire crews successfully located and extinguished the fire, which originated in an air conditioning unit,” officials wrote in the statement.

The fire was extinguished and the building turned over to UCSD Superintendent Kim Hanisch.

Updated at 8:55 p.m. on July 4, 2024.

The City of Unalaska released a statement Thursday evening saying the cause of last night’s elementary school fire did “not appear to be suspicious in nature.”

The Unalaska Fire Department responded to an automatic fire alarm at Eagle’s View Elementary School around 11:45 Wednesday night.

Original story published July 4, 2024 at 12:35 a.m.

Firefighters responded to a fire at Eagle’s View Elementary Wednesday night shortly before midnight.

As of 12:35 a.m. the fire was still active in the elementary school’s ceiling, with five firefighters inside the building, according to Unalaska Fire Chief Ben Knowles.

The fire’s cause is unknown at the time of reporting and there is no reason to believe anyone was inside the building, as the doors were locked.

PDF: AEBSD – Special School Board Meeting, Wed., July 10th, 2024 @12:00pm

Posted on: July 9th, 2024 | Author: General Manager | Filed under: AEB School District, Community Window, KSDP Programs

Aleutians East Borough School District
Special Meeting of the School Board
Wed., July 10th, 2024 at 12:00PM
Meeting will be held via Zoom

KSDP will air the meeting live & archive the audio here:

Agenda+Packet (PDF):
https://www.aebsd.org/page/board-packets

Board Packet for July 10, 2024 Special School Board Meeting

PDF: Sand Point City Council Meeting: Tuesday, July 9th, 2024 at 7PM

Posted on: July 8th, 2024 | Author: General Manager | Filed under: City Of Sand Point, Community Window, KSDP Programs

Sand Point City Council will hold a meeting on Tuesday, July 9th, 2024 at 7PM.

KSDP will air the meeting live & archive the audio here:
https://apradio.org/mp3/2024-07-09-citycouncil.mp3

Download the packet below (PDF):
https://www.sandpointak.com/uploads/2/7/6/7/27677223/july_9_2024_sand_point_city_council_packet-final.pdf

Ravn Alaska names new CEO, loses mileage sharing agreement with Alaska Airlines

Posted on: July 1st, 2024 | Author: Theo Greenly | Filed under: 830AM KSDP Radio News, Community Window

KUCB / Maggie Nelson┃KSDP / Theo Greenly

Ravn Alaska has a new leader: Southern California businessman Tom Hsieh will take over the regional airline and replace former CEO Rob McKinney. Hsieh is the president of FLOAT Alaska LLC, the parent company of Ravn Alaska and New Pacific Airlines.

McKinney did not respond to several requests for comment.

Tina Hanley, Ravn’s chief commercial officer, said the company doesn’t have an official statement, but confirmed the airline is passing the baton to Hsieh.

Alaska Airlines has suspended its mileage-sharing agreement with Ravn in light of the news. Alaska Airlines Public Affairs Manager Tim Thompson said in an email to KUCB that the decision is the result of Ravn’s recent “transition in leadership.”

The shakeup at Ravn comes about three months after the company laid off over a quarter of its 400 plus workforce. The airline provided few details on the layoffs.

Many Unalaskans have recently expressed concern over the reliability of local air service, citing frequent and unexplained cancellations on the airline, which serves nine communities across Alaska, including Homer, St. Paul, Valdez, and St. Mary’s on the Lower Yukon River.

According to Alaska’s statement, travelers can no longer purchase and redeem Ravn flights on their website, or accrue mileage. Thompson said any travel already booked will be honored. Travelers who purchased flights before July 1 on Alaska’s website will still accrue mileage, as long as they include a mileage plan number.

Aleutians East Borough opposes Rep. Peltola’s proposed trawling limitations

Posted on: June 27th, 2024 | Author: Theo Greenly | Filed under: 830AM KSDP Radio News, Aleutians East Borough, Community Window, Fisheries News, KSDP Programs

The factory trawler Alaska Ocean seen in Dutch Harbor during A Season 2023.

Communities in the Aleutians are pushing back against proposed legislation that would bring stricter regulations to the Bering Sea trawl fishery.

The City of Unalaska and the Aleutians East Borough are among 53 organizations that signed onto a letter sent to U.S. Rep. Mary Peltola last week, urging her to withdraw H.R. 8507, a bill she sponsored in May. 

The proposed legislation aims to add new regulations to where trawling can take place across the United States, not only in Alaska.

Trade organizations and some coastal communities whose economies rely on trawl fisheries have pushed back against the bill, asking the congresswoman to repeal it.

“If enacted, H.R. 8507 would directly harm fishermen and coastal communities in Alaska and throughout our nation, along with countless other people who rely on a healthy domestic seafood sector for food, jobs, and their way of life,” the letter said.

Alaska’s fishing industry has experienced major turmoil in recent years. The collapse of some fish stocks, like Bristol Bay red king crab, the decrease of salmon prices in world markets, and a flood of foreign fish have led to something of a crisis in Alaska’s commercial fisheries.

The Aleutians East Borough, which consists of six communities on the Alaska Peninsula and Aleutian Chain, has been hard hit by fluctuations in the industry. Low salmon prices last year and the closure of Peter Pan Seafood Co., which operated in the borough, have led community leaders to sound the alarm.

“Our major source of revenue is from raw fish taxes on seafood products, the majority of which comes from Alaska trawl fisheries,” said Aleutians East Borough Mayor Alvin D. Osterback. “These revenues fund our schools, community services, and our infrastructure.”

“If our trawl fisheries were to be substantially harmed by the requirements of this legislation … then it all comes to an end for us out here,” he added.

Bycatch has been a hot-button issue in Alaska’s fisheries, and Peltola promised to limit the accidental catch of non-targeted fish during her campaign. Dismal salmon returns in Western Alaska have created an existential threat to the region’s subsistence culture, and brought increased political pressure to limit bycatch in the Bering Sea, which some say is exacerbating the problem.

“Predatory industrial and foreign trawlers, ineffective management systems, a changing climate, and more have all played their own role,” Peltola said in a statement on her website.

But the letter’s authors point to research from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries Science Centers, which suggests climate change, not bycatch, is the reason salmon numbers have fallen so drastically.

“This science shows climate-related shifts in our nation’s marine ecosystems, including significant changes in the distribution of fish populations and other marine life,” the letter says.

The authors continue to say that Peltola’s proposed legislation would hinder regulators’ ability to effectively manage fisheries, calling the bill’s methods “archaic and counterproductive.”

Alaska’s seafood industry is the economy’s second largest sector, falling behind only oil and gas. 

Stephanie Madsen, executive director of the seafood trade organization At-Sea Processors Association, said the legislation would hurt seafood workers, one of the largest working groups in the state.

“This bill threatens seafood sector jobs in Alaska and across the United States. More than 1.5 million Americans have jobs that depend on commercial seafood, and they deserve better than the politicization of fisheries science and management,” she said.

The summer season for Alaska’s largest trawl fishery, Alaska Pollock, opened June 10 and can last as long as Nov. 1.

Representatives from Murkowski and Sullivan offices visit Eastern Aleutians

Representatives from Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan’s offices arrived in Sand Point Monday, their first stop on a multi-city tour around the region. The trip, which will include stops in King Cove and False Pass, comes ahead of a strategic plan the senators are expected to present to the Secretary of Commerce this summer.

Matthew Robinson, a legislative assistant with Murkowski’s office, and Sullivan policy advisor Carina Nichols, are meeting with community leaders, fishermen, and community members to hear about the impacts of Alaska’s fishing industry on locals.

Coastal communities along the peninsula have been hard hit in recent years; fish numbers and prices have been low, putting the squeeze on local budgets and households.

The congressional representatives are also traveling with Abby Fredrick from Silver Bay Seafoods, and they plan to fly to King Cove Monday evening, where the community is dealing with the closure of Peter Pan, the town’s only seafood processor.

King Cove has recently implemented several state-of-the-art infrastructure projects, including a hydroelectric power plant capable of supporting the large processing facility.

The group plans to fly to False Pass Tuesday, where Silver Bay recently took over the Trident plant, before ending their tour in Bristol Bay.

Sens. Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski are expected to present a strategic plan to the Secretary of Commerce sometime later this summer.

KSDP’s New Logo!

Posted on: June 24th, 2024 | Author: Virgil | Filed under: Community Window

Thank you to all the folks who submitted designs. Reece French created our winning design!

As salmon season kicks off, some Alaska fishermen fear for their futures

Posted on: June 23rd, 2024 | Author: Theo Greenly | Filed under: 830AM KSDP Radio News, Community Window, Fisheries News, KSDP Newscast

Buck Laukitis’ boat, the Oracle, sits in Homer last month before unloading its catch of halibut. (Nathaniel Herz/Northern Journal)

Northern Journal / Nathaniel Herz

HOMER — On a brilliant spring morning, Buck Laukitis, a longtime fisherman from this Kenai Peninsula town, stood at the city dock watching his catch come ashore.

Crew members aboard Laukitis’ boat, the Oracle, filled bags with dozens of halibut — some of the fatter ones worth $200 or more — which a crane would lift up to the dock. There, processing workers on a small slime line weighed the fish, tossed crushed ice into the gills and slid them into boxes for shipment to Canada.

Harvest, unload, sell, repeat — exactly how the iconic Alaska commercial fishing industry is supposed to work. Until you ask Laukitis about the Oracle’s sister vessel, the Halcyon.

Instead of fishing for another species, black cod, like it’s built for, the Halcyon is tied up at the dock.

For Laukitis to make money, processing companies would need to pay $2.50 for each pound of black cod delivered to a plant. But right now, buyers aren’t paying much more than $1.50, he said.

With Laukitis on the dock last month were his young grandkids and adult daughters — fishermen who run a popular brand called the Salmon Sisters. 

A fish processing worker tosses a halibut unloaded from the Oracle into a box for shipment. (Nathaniel Herz/Northern Journal)

Those generations, he said, were on his mind as a sharp downturn in Alaska’s fishing industry continues looming over his livelihood. Some say that the crisis, driven by an array of market forces and economic factors outside fishermen’s control, is the biggest for the industry since statehood.

“We’re trying to do multi-generation fishing,” Laukitis said. “But believe me: It keeps me up at night, wondering about the future.”

Roughly a year into the downturn, with the major summer harvest of salmon just starting, there are some signs of recovery. Some fishermen say they managed to turn profits even after last year’s plunge in prices. And startup businesses are launching new models for processing that they say could help boost the quality and value of Alaska’s catch.

But major threats persist, many of which fishermen feel powerless to affect — posing existential risks to a $6 billion industry that employs more than 15,000 Alaskans.

Industry and state elected leaders say they expect Russia to continue selling huge quantities of fish into global markets, undercutting the prices of Alaska’s harvests — which also have to compete with farmed fish.

Inflation and high borrowing costs are hammering processing companies, which typically take out huge loans to buy supplies and stage workers and equipment at the start of each summer salmon season. Plants and whole processing businesses have shuttered around the state, while others are putting assets up for sale.

Then there’s the long-term uncertainty that comes with global warming, which appears to be boosting some fish populations but disrupting others.

Fishermen who have made big investments in recent years now own permits that could be worth a fraction of the purchase price.

Permits to participate in the typically lucrative Bristol Bay salmon fishery were going for $260,000 two years ago; now they’re selling for $140,000.

Many skippers face steep startup costs for the summer season without much confidence that their harvest will pay off. Some who are nearing retirement are having to postpone those plans until they can sell their boats and permits at higher prices.

A fishing boat sits at the dock at Homer’s harbor last month. (Nathaniel Herz/Northern Journal)

“There are people who literally cannot afford to go fishing. They’re going to be paying money out of their own pocket to deliver their fish pretty soon,” said Maddie Lightsey, who brokers sales of permits and boats at her family business in Homer. “But they also can’t afford to sell, because the market has crashed and come down so far that they’re dramatically upside down on their loans.”

Most Alaska fishermen are in the business for the long haul, not for short-term investment returns. But some, like 41-year-old Erik Velsko, are starting to hedge their bets.

Velsko, another longtime Homer fisherman, is studying to get his ship’s pilot license, in case his chosen career doesn’t work out. Others said they’re looking at jobs in health care and aboard state ferries.

“That’s how much faith I have in, at least, the fisheries we’re doing,” Velsko said. “It was pretty good, for quite a while.”

“Nothing to fall back on”

The industry turmoil first started generating big headlines after last summer’s Bristol Bay salmon harvest, when processing companies announced they would pay fishermen per-pound prices that were roughly half of the previous year’s.

The prices, which prompted vehement protests from fishermen, were the lowest in two decades, and they could end up being the lowest on record, according to a preliminary analysis by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

But the focus on salmon has, to a degree, overshadowed that the crisis is broader, covering an array of other species.

Among the biggest problems is pollock — a whitefish harvested in huge quantities in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea. It’s sold into markets in Asia, Europe and the U.S. to make products like fish sticks, fried fish sandwiches and imitation crab.

Many of Alaska’s big processing companies depend on revenue from consistent, multi-season harvests of pollock to smooth out the short, frenetic summer salmon season.

But processors say that huge increases in aggressively low-priced sales of pollock products from Russia — particularly of surimi, the fish paste used to make fake crab — are crowding them out of the market, especially in Asia and Europe.

Processors say they’re also facing increased competition from Russia-caught salmon, and from farm-raised fish. Other species, like black cod, are also fetching rock bottom prices — meaning that even fishermen who have diversified into multiple species aren’t insulated from the chaos.

Whole black cod was retailing for $5.99 a pound at Costco in East Anchorage earlier this month. (Nathaniel Herz/Northern Journal)

“There’s nothing to fall back on. Everything, across the board, is in trouble,” Lightsey said. “This is different from other downturns in that way.”

Other dynamics that processors say are limiting the prices they can pay for fish include a historically low value of the Japanese yen against the U.S. dollar. That’s limited the demand for Alaska products in a country that’s often been a huge market.

Inflation and sharply rising borrowing costs in the past two years are also big problems.

Processing companies often take out loans of tens of millions of dollars at the start of each salmon season — money for buying empty cans and plastic, flying workers to remote plants and funding pre-season boat upgrades, insurance policies and other necessities for the skippers who sell them fish.

Totes are stacked outside The Fish Factory in Homer last month. (Nathaniel Herz/Northern Journal)

“You had interest rates go up by three times,” said Rob Gillam, whose McKinley financial and research businesses have studied and invested in the Alaska seafood industry in recent years. “At the same time, what we can sell the fish for is going down, not up.”

Wages for processing workers, like for those in other industries, have also spiked. At a news conference last month, Joe Bundrant, the chief executive of the huge processing company Trident Seafoods, said labor costs have risen by 240% in the past five years, with diesel fuel prices also rising sharply in the same period.

“All the while that the Russians were weaponizing their seafood industry against us, we’ve seen unprecedented cost increases,” said Bundrant. His company is based in Seattle but has operated 11 plants in Alaska — four of which Trident put up for sale last year.

Deferred loans and deepening debts

Processing companies’ woes trickle down to skippers and crew, since fishermen depend on the prices those businesses can pay for their catch. Some of the same trends hitting the processing companies, like inflation, are also affecting fishermen directly.

Toph Clucas takes a break from preparing his fishing vessel in a boatyard in Homer in May to pose for a photo. Clucas, 26, fishes off Kodiak Island, and he’s taken on more than $200,000 in debt to finance his boat and other assets needed to get into the industry. “I’m pretty much just buckling in and trying to make it ’til the market comes back up,” he said. “It’s my livelihood and it’s what I love doing.” (Nathaniel Herz/Northern Journal)

In interviews, numerous Homer fishermen said they’re facing steep increases in the cost of insuring their boats for the summer salmon season. Jennifer Hakala, whose husband runs a boat in Bristol Bay, said the price of insurance for this year’s six-week fishery spiked to $8,000 from $5,000 in 2023.

To survive, some fishermen are deferring loan payments or taking on more debt. Others, like Hakala, are getting creative.

Typically, her husband hires two deckhands to help on the boat, but this year, they’re depending on their 16-year-old son, and Hakala, who manages a Homer marine supply store, will help out, too.

“I’m going to fly in on the peak and help them finish off the year — and hopefully we make our boat payment,” she said, referring to the yearly amount that’s due on the loan the family took out to buy their vessel.

Workers at a Homer boatyard load a net for shipment last month. The downturn in Alaska’s fishing industry has hit not just fishermen and processing companies but also other maritime businesses. In Homer, supply company Nomar Alaska got two orders of specially designed fish bags during a November fishermen’s convention — down from 25 to 30 orders in a normal year. “We’re feeling it,” said Jennifer Hakala, Nomar’s office manager. (Nathaniel Herz/Northern Journal)

Most fishermen in Kodiak have been able to get through the past year without contemplating difficult decisions like bankruptcy, according to Danielle Ringer, a fisherman and fisheries scholar from Homer who’s now based on Kodiak Island.

She’s heard of some skippers who have been working as crew members in fisheries they don’t normally participate in. Others are thinking about working construction instead of taking the risk of gearing up their boat for this coming summer.

“It could be okay,” Ringer said. “But not if it’s a couple more seasons like last year.”

Ringer said she’s seen support coming from the state and federal governments for large and small seafood processing companies.

Those programs are legitimate, Ringer said, but she’d also like to see more support for individual fishermen, too — ideas like direct aid, or loan forbearance. She endorsed concepts being discussed by policymakers to create new programs modeled on federal supports for agriculture.

“For healthy fisheries and healthy communities, you need all of these different aspects,” she said. “Even if government folks and others are interested in supporting fishermen, I think there are still questions about how to do that the right way.”

Not all bad news

While many Alaska fishermen are struggling, others say they have managed to stay profitable — and that they see bright spots ahead.

Last year, Homer resident Scotty Switzer and his three crew members all made money fishing off Kodiak Island, where big runs of salmon made up for the low price they were paid.

“I’m just grateful to have made something,” said Switzer, 36. “Getting into this industry, I knew there were going to be ups and downs.”

Switzer took on hundreds of thousands of dollars in loans to acquire his permit, boat and other assets, and he’s still deeply in debt. But, like other fishermen working on their boats in the Homer harbor, he said he’s not feeling too anxious about his future.

Scotty Switzer, 36, poses for a photo on his boat at the Homer harbor. (Nathaniel Herz/Northern Journal)

“Probably should, could,” he said. “But, I’m in it now.”

For the upcoming season, one processing company, seeking to reassure fishermen, has already announced its minimum price for Bristol Bay sockeye salmon. Silver Bay Seafoods, one of the biggest Alaska processing companies, says it will pay a minimum of 80 cents a pound, a significant bump from the 50-cent minimum it paid last year.

Meanwhile, two startup companies, Northline Seafoods and Circle Seafoods, are hoping to revolutionize the industry’s traditional freezing and salmon processing methods — thereby fetching higher prices from consumers.

Typically, processors send big boats known as tenders to collect salmon from fishermen, then motor the catch back to plants on shore, where workers are flown each summer to handle the fish and operate equipment. Delays in pickup and delivery — and sometimes less-than-meticulous handling and chilling by fishermen — can translate into lower quality filets.

The two companies will park new, floating factory barges directly on or near the fishing grounds, reducing the amount of transit time once salmon are caught.

Once full of whole, frozen fish, the barges will be taken back to Washington state, where the salmon will be processed throughout the off-season without requiring workers to take expensive flights to rural Alaska plants.

“We’re trying to turn it into a manufactured good, as opposed to this seasonal rush of production that’s cut by temporary seasonal workers who have never seen a fish before,” said Charlie Champbell, Circle Seafoods’ co-founder. His company has raised $36 million from investors, loans and federal tax credits, he said.

A “bigger, more systematic downturn”

Alaska’s congressional delegation, led by Republican U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan, has also been chipping away at the problems of Russian pollock and salmon exports.

While the U.S. banned imports of Russian seafood in 2022, a loophole allowed those harvests to continue entering America if they’d been processed in China or other countries.

Sullivan and other Alaska elected officials successfully pressured the Biden administration to fix that problem in December; he’s also appealed directly to European Union and Asian allies to consider tighter Russian import restrictions of their own.

“When the U.S. government moves in a coordinated fashion, it can get things done,” Sullivan said. “If we got international cooperation from the EU and Japan, there’s no doubt it would stabilize prices.”

A crane lowers a bag of halibut from the Oracle to the Homer dock last month. (Nathaniel Herz/Northern Journal)

Beyond pollock and salmon, there are reasons to be hopeful about the medium- and long-term prospects for two other key Alaska species, halibut and black cod, said Norm Pillen, president of the fishermen-owned Seafood Producers Cooperative, a small processor based in Sitka.

But the near-term is less promising, with continuing low prices and high borrowing and shipping costs, he added. Sitka fishermen are also nervous about a conservation group’s request to have the federal government list Gulf of Alaska king salmon under the Endangered Species Act.

“We’re going to have another tough year to get through,” Pillen said.

Back on the Homer dock, Laukitis, the boat owner, said that last year, he thought the turmoil in the Alaska fishing industry would be short-lived, like other dips that participants have had to periodically endure over the years.

Now, he sees it differently — as a “bigger, more systematic downturn” that’s landing directly on fishermen. Processing companies may not be able to control the prices they pay for fuel or packaging, but they can reduce the price they pay for fish.

“There’s a disequilibrium,” Laukitis said. “And we’re the ones getting squeezed the hardest.”

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MP3+PDF: Aleutians East Borough Assembly Meeting – June 19th, 2024

Posted on: June 19th, 2024 | Author: Amy M. | Filed under: Community Window

The Aleutians East Borough Assembly is holding a special meeting on Thursday, June 19th, 2024 at 1:00 PM.

KSDP will air the meeting live & archive the audio here:
Meeting.pdf

AGENDA+PACKET:
https://www.aleutianseast.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/June-19-2024-ASSEMBLY_MTG_AGENDA.pdf
https://www.aleutianseast.org/wp-content/uploads/2024/06/June-19-2024-Special-Assembly-

Details point to homicide in King Cove couple’s death

Posted on: June 17th, 2024 | Author: Theo Greenly | Filed under: 830AM KSDP Radio News, Aleutians East Borough, KSDP Newscast

Photo courtesy of Amy Carlough

KUCB/ Andy Lusk

Developments in the case of a King Cove couple who died earlier this year point to homicide, according to the death certificate of James Gould, released in early May. He and his wife, Kathryn, died in a house fire in their Anchorage home this winter. The fire is being investigated as arson.

According to their death certificates, the 75-year old victims died from smoke inhalation and thermal burns.

James and Kathryn Gould owned John Gould & Sons, a general store that first opened in King Cove in 1939. The couple spent most of their life in the small fishing community near the tip of the Alaska Peninsula, but were living in Anchorage at the time of their deaths.

The couple’s niece, Amy Carlough, said she hopes pending investigations will bring the community closure.

“Now that both deaths have been officially ruled as homicides…our family will be working with law enforcement to spearhead necessary justice for them and the communities they loved to call ‘home,’” Carlough said.

James and Kathryn are buried in King Cove Cemetery. Their memorial service was held in February.

Anyone with information related to the deaths can contact the Anchorage Police Department and reference APD case 24-3563.

Special Episode: Pastor Jake from Unalaska Reformed Church! :)

Posted on: June 16th, 2024 | Author: Matthew Vroman | Filed under: Community Window, Hour of Hope

Great episode that will cover the Bible and the law  :) and the Gospel.  Be sure and tell a friend and visit the church in Unalaska.  Service 11 am Sundays at Dutch Harbor Mall.

unalaskareformed.org