Omnibus has millions for study of Alaska fisheries

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By KIM JARRETT | THE CENTER SQUARE

The $1.7 trillion spending bill passed by Congress and signed by President Joe Biden includes millions for Alaska’s fisheries and creates yet another task force to study the decline of Alaska’s salmon.

The Alaska Salmon Research Task Force will have between 13 and 19 members, with most of them appointed by the Secretary of Commerce. Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy is allowed to appoint just one member.

The task force will be created 90 days from Dec. 23, the day Biden signed the omnibus bill into law. The task force is to turn in its report within a year. 

An additional $65 million is in the package for grants to restore Pacific salmon populations. Those grants are available to Alaska and five other states.

The bill also included $300 million for fishery disasters, and another $300 million is included for administrative costs. The funding is not exclusive to Alaska, according to U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Commerce declared six fishery disasters in Alaska, including the 2022/2023 closure of the Alaska Bristol Bay Red King Crab and Bering Sea Snow Crab Fisheries.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced in October that fishing Bristol Bay red king crab would be closed for the second year in a row.

The spending package includes $2.75 million for the Bering Sea Fisheries Research Foundation to monitor the Bering Sea’s commercial fisheries. Among the other allocations is $1 million to the University of Alaska Fairbanks for research on seasonal weather forecasting. 

“Our fisheries and oceans provide foundational food security and economic opportunity for Alaskans statewide. I’m proud to champion our marine environment and cornerstone species like salmon and crab in this year-end package,” Murkowski said in a statement. “Alaskans advocated for these projects, we worked together to deliver on them, and we can now look forward to their implementation for our state.” 

U.S. Dan Sullivan voted against the spending package but said he supported some of its provisions, including the ones backing the state’s fisheries.

“However, this is a more than $1.7 trillion dollar spending bill consisting of 4,155 pages, with thousands more in supporting documents, negotiated and agreed to only by House and Senate leadership, and their staff,” Sullivan said in a statement. “We were given approximately 48 hours to read and analyze it. Decisions were made behind closed doors, many of which are clearly beyond the expertise of those making them, and the legislative process once again provided no meaningful opportunity for further input from Senators.”  

Kim Jarrett’s career spans over 30 years with stops in radio, print and television. She has won awards from both the Georgia Press Association and the Georgia Association of Broadcasters.

28 COMMENTS

  1. I think according to the U.S. Constitution the 117th Congress has usurped the authority of the 118th. Article 1 section 7 and 8. I would never play cards with these people, rules mean what THEY say they mean. And if you challenge them, you could end up dead or in prison.

  2. “Among the other allocations is $1 million to the University of Alaska Fairbanks for research on seasonal weather forecasting”

    Isn’t the National Weather Service (under the National Oceanic and Atmpospheric Administration) main mission-weather forecasting and research? Seems like a duplicative effort. Oh well – a million here, a million there, who cares since it WAS A 1.7 TRILLION dollar spending bill signed into law! GEEZ.

    NWS Mission: “The NWS engages in various types of collaborative and applied research and development activities within the agency, as well as in coordination with NOAA line offices and the research community with the goal of incorporating innovation and research into operations.” ‘https://www.weather.gov/about/science-and-technology

    NWS Forecasting Mission: “The National Weather Service (NWS) provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas, for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy.” ‘https://www.weather.gov/aprfc/Mission#:~:text=The%20National%20Weather%20Service%20(NWS,enhancement%20of%20the%20national%20economy.

    • NWS has a large presence at UAF, and the opportunity for collaboration makes sense for this grant.
      Regarding the fisheries issue: Here I’m quite a bit more cynical… Guaranteed there is no money for territorial waters enforcement. There is serious overfishing happening and the guilt is multinational and likely requires new international fishing treaties. Studying the issue will only delay the inevitable – we must regulate (how I HATE that word!) and enforce. Then I suggest some of that grant money be spent on microhatcheries near villages along the river systems to ensure greater smolt survival, using wild stock of course. Using nanotech, radio/satellite track some of the fish and see where they go and what happens to them.

      • Enforcement of the Magnuson Stevens Act by the Coast Guard would be very helpful. I see 2 Coast Guard Cruisers moored in Seward Harbor for lengths of time seemingly not doing anything.

          • The Magnuson Stevens Act was put in place for conservation of fish and governs marine management in U.S controlled waters which coincides with the article. My post was also in response to Rich Thornes post.
            I’d like to see Coast Guard take on a more active roll in controlling our waters so foreign owned vessels are stoped from taking our fish within U.S. jurisdiction.

        • Joe, am with you on this one. With satellites it should be well known any violations of the Magnuson Stevens Act. Enforcement at this time would be fragile do to the present relationship of certain countries. Better to advance environmental concerns than to risk a war. And who exactly cares about Alaska in DC. This fish problem will not go away under present administration. Many excuses will be made that fit the agenda.

  3. I don’t care. It’s an abomination which will drive up inflation and further impoverish our grandchildren.

    Just because there is a bone thrown to Princess Lisa doesn’t make it better.

    Why are the fisheries in trouble? Try massive industrial overfishing. Now where’s my $65 million?

  4. Alaska’s seafood Industry is far and away Alaska’s number one resource as it is a renewable resource and so long as we take care of it in every way we possibly can because of the economy it provides and the wide spectrum of life that it in turn supports and nourishes. Food for the world, so lets not destroy it 😉

    • Well we already have destroyed it. Overfishing bycatch longliners and miles of nets. When the ocean is done humans are done because we can’t use fertilizer and cow farts are bad. Get use to plant based diet.

      • The King salmon run in Southeast Alaska has mostly vanished coincidently at the same time as the 2014 Mt Polley Mine earthen dam breech a major disaster spilling toxic nuisance metals (leads) along with Acidic Sulfides into 2 major lakes then on to SE AK tidewaters. Albeit very difficult to prove but never the less suspect.

        • Oh boy, where to begin with this one? Let’s just start with the difficult to prove part. It’s not just difficult to prove, nobody with a functioning brain is suggesting all the king salmon runs in SE have vanished let alone they’ve vanished because of a dam breech on a single river.

          • Steve; I agree with you on proving the reason for the King Salmon demise in SE as this is still being investigated and I stated that.
            Steve, could you imagine a Mine like Mt Polley mine being on pebble creek?
            Also the Mt Polley mine was touted as the most environmentally safest state of the art mine in modern history, then look what happened.
            Thanks for your concern.

    • Alaska’s number one industry is petroleum extraction. After petroleum extraction we have the most heavily taxed fishing industry. That’s all we “have”. Nothing else. Poverty because DC creeps will not allow Alaska to actually be a state in this union.

  5. I read that the University of Alaska Land Grant will be getting the land granted to it, so that’s one good thing from this abomination of an omnibus. I also read that within five years all new vehicles will come with a factory installed kill switch that the government will have access to…that seems un-American and is fitting. Who knows how much other nonsense is it this bill? I guess we will find out now that they’ve voted on it and everything in it is now law.

  6. All for science, but haven’t we been assessing, studying and managing our fisheries for decades? Will the results of studies say that we are overfishing? If so, didn’t we know that already? And if so don’t the feds owe Masked Avenger 65 million?

  7. Oh goody, another study. Seems like that is all that occurs in Alaska, studies. Wonder if Princess is receiving her 10%?

  8. Darned shame that not a dime to be spent transitioning AK commfish from ocean ranching to fish farming. Sooner or later the economic wheels will grind the current commfish model into dust. The time to make that transition is now (a mere 20 years too late). Cheers –

  9. I have the results already,. We must stop ALL fishing! Unless it is being done by the politically connected few. It will cut out the carbon emissions by all those eeeevil boats

  10. There is no bigger group of whiners in Alaska than Alaska fishermen and fisherwomen.
    Their hand are out even when the fish are biting.

  11. So, this is the price of votes these days. Or at least the price of senators and congressmen.

  12. “Look! Over Here!”! Not over there. So undisclosed effects on homeported salmon species caused by undisclosed nuclear submarine underwater bases in Alaska have not caused any frankenfish or interruptions of home port salmon runs, eh, Santa Joe? It’s not listed in the biologic study right. Bad business practices abound. Why must taxpayers pay to be mislead by fraud and unsportsmanlike behavior of DC slitherers?” Asking for an Alaskan.

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