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Fishlines: Vol. 36, No. 9


Coming up

Safe Seal Oil for Alaska’s Senior Centers

a man and woman at a conference table

Responding to a desire for Native food by elders living in a senior facility, the Kotzebue-based Maniilaq Association and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) formed the Alaska Seal Oil Task Force in 2015.

The group of about 27 members, including Marine Advisory seafood specialists Brian Himelbloom and Chris Sannito, meet regularly by teleconference. Himelbloom and Sannito are recognized by ADEC as a “process authority” with the skills to identify safe food processing practices approved by the state.

The task force is recommending safe handling processes in rendering marine mammal oils to avoid botulism. The Maniilaq Association’s goal is to get a traditional process approved to meet state health concerns.

Last month the task force brought Eric Johnson, world expert in Clostridium botulinum and food toxins from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, to the Kodiak Seafood and Marine Science Center to present a seminar and discuss safe food processing methods. The seminar was attended by Kodiak residents, and dietic ians at Native organizations from various Alaska locations. Johnson also traveled to Kotzebue to observe traditional seal oil processing.

Johnson’s federally authorized laboratory is one of a few facilities in the United States where trained personnel can study the lethal neurotoxin-producing bacterium C. botulinum. In Kodiak Johnson explained the science behind botulism and made the point that the toxin can be inactivated by exposure to boiling temperature for 10 minutes.

ADEC’s Lorinda Lhotka, who also presented at the seminar, said an Alaska institution such as a school or elder home can legally receive only non-processed food donations, but a variance can be sought for processed food donations if a safe process is demonstrated. Each institution should do this one-on-one, since traditional food processing methods vary widely, she said. “We are excited that Maniilaq wants to create a model for seeking the variance, which could be used around the state,” said Lhotka.

Traditional foods are very nutritious and highly valued by Alaska Natives. Seal oil is used like a dipping sauce in Native households in Alaska.

Aleutian Life Forum Held

people working around a table

A six-day forum focused on the role of communities in preparing for a changing environment drew nearly 150 people in Unalaska. The Aleutian Life Forum, held in mid-August, encouraged an exchange of local and traditional knowledge with scientists to give them new perspectives and insights for research.

Talks included fisheries in a changing climate, ocean acidification, vessel traffic and oil spill preparedness, as well as coastal hazards of erosion, inundation and contaminants, effective science communication, and establishing effective local environmental observer networks. Among the 45 speakers were Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory faculty Terry Johnson and Melissa Good, and director Paula Cullenberg.

As part of the forum, the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association and Alaska’s Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) hosted two regional workshops on what’s known and what’s needed by agencies and communities to address climate change.

Davin Holen, Marine Advisory community resilience specialist, and Melissa Good helped facilitate the workshop “Promoting Coastal Resilience and Adaptation in Alaska.” Holen will host a similar workshop in Ketchikan in September, and workshops on the same topic are being held by LCCs in Nome, King Salmon, and Kotzebue this year.

The Aleutian Life Forum originated with Unalaska Marine Advisory agent Reid Brewer, following the Selendang Ayu grounding in 2004. The 2016 forum, the third in the series, was a collaborative effort of the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association, Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska, Alaska Sea Grant, Alaska Ocean Observing System, University of Alaska Fairbanks, NOAA, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Aleutians and Bering Sea Islands Landscape Conservation Cooperative.

Symposium on Climate Migration Coming Up

Structure on very edge of eroding coast

The White House Council on Environmental Quality, in collaboration with Hawaiʻi and Alaska Sea Grant College Programs and the William S. Richardson School of Law at the University of Hawaiʻi Manoa, will host the Symposium on Climate Displacement, Migration, and Relocation, December 13–14, 2016.

The symposium will provide an opportunity for stakeholders, researchers, policy experts, indigenous leaders, and local, state, and federal government officials to explore legal and policy opportunities and challenges arising from climate displacement. This includes questions about how to plan for and implement voluntary migration and community-led relocation as adaptation strategies to the impacts of climate change, both domestically and in the context of the Pacific Islands. Erin Shew, Knauss Fellow from Alaska, is the lead coordinator of the symposium.

New Climate Change and Alaska Fisheries Publication

book cover with fishing boat and text Climate Change and Alaska Fisheries

Climate Change and Alaska Fisheries is a new Alaska Sea Grant publication by Marine Advisory specialist Terry Johnson. The 36 page illustrated book summarizes knowledge of North Pacific climate change and its anticipated effects on Alaska fisheries through the middle of the 21st century. Based on scientific research and observations by the public and industry, Johnson focuses on fisheries effects attributable to long-term warming, looks at effects of climate variability phenomena, and considers ocean acidification.

Johnson concludes that during the working lifetime of today’s younger fishermen, effects of long-term climate change on fisheries probably will be profound but not cataclysmic. In 30 years most existing fisheries will continue to be productive, with some becoming smaller and others flourishing. To survive and prosper the industry must keep up to date on climate science, environmental changes, and advances in technology, finance, and the politics of resource management. Fishermen and communities will need to develop adaptive strategies.

Climate Change and Alaska Fisheries is available in hard copy for $10 or as a free PDF download at the Alaska Sea Grant online bookstore.

Guide to Buying Vessel Insurance Published

image of page with the text Getting the Most Value When Buying Fishing Vessel Insurance

Most fishing vessel owners turn to commercial insurance markets to buy policies, but it can be a challenge to find the right policy at the best price. The new publication, Getting the Most Value When Buying Fishing Vessel Insurance by Marine Advisory specialist Terry Johnson, has answers to most preliminary questions boat owners ask about insuring a vessel.

The range of risks to operators, insurance terms, and fishing vessel policy components are clearly laid out, from hull and machinery and P&I to crew coverage and moorage insurance. Guidance is provided on gauging the amount of insurance needed, getting the best value, and risk management tips.

The 12 page Sea Gram is available as a free PDF download at the Alaska Sea Grant online bookstore.


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