Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Don’t make us do this! Cap bycatch at 32,500By anonymousbloggers
Factory-owned trawlers fishing for pollock in the waters off Alaska’s coast cater to America and the world’s growing appetite for fast-food fish sandwiches, fish sticks and imitation crab (Krab) and lobster.
Sadly, tens of thousands of salmon are snared in the huge nets of pollock trawlers and don’t live to make their right of passage – a courageous trip against the pristine river currents of Alaska, and some all the way to spawning grounds in Canada to reproduce and guarantee the survival of their species.
Rural communities in Alaska depend on a healthy salmon run each year. Subsistence fishermen fish throughout the summer, under strict regulations, and normally harvest enough salmon to preserve for the winter. The local commercial village fishermen also use their catch to pay for their families’ need for cash items like fuel, help support local businesses and pump cash into local economies that help others support their families.
Commercial pollock trawlers are intercepting and killing these same salmon upon which rural fishermen depend. Since 2002 the bycatch, salmon caught in pollock nets, has been as high as 121,000 – many of which should have been preserved and stored in our neighbor’s winter pantries.
Native Americans living in villages in rural Alaska depend on an abundance of salmon. This winter’s scarcity brought to the forefront just how important a healthy salmon fishery is.
Please take a few moments to let the North Pacific Fishery Management Council know the world is watching. Demand that they cap salmon bycatch at 32,500 so more Chinook salmon have a chance to swim upstream next summer.
It took a worldwide boycott to make tuna dolphin-safe. Self-regulation has not been working in the pollock fishing industry. Add your voice to the cry for a salmon bycatch cap, send a comment to the NPFMC here.
The salmon bycatch cap and why it’s important…
Send comments to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council before March 25, 2009 demanding a 32,500 bycatch cap!
The demand for pollock to produce fish sticks, fish patties, imitation crab and many other fish products is threatening the health of a huge fishery off Alaska’s coast. Huge factory-owned trawlers capture tens of thousands of salmon in their nets. This “bycatch” in thrown back, dead after hours of being dragged in a trawl net
Fishermen in rural villages depend on a healthy salmon run each year. For thousands of years, Native American villagers have relied on an abundant salmon run to preserve for their winter diet. The salmon run was so bad this year that rural Alaskans are struggling to feed their families.
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will meet April 1-7, 2009 in Anchorage to choose a management measure to reduce Chinook salmon bycatch. The Council is considering a hard cap on salmon bycatch, which would close the pollock fishery down once the cap was reached. The Council is considering a range of hard caps from 29,000 to 87,500. Many Western Alaska groups are recommending a hard cap of 32,500 or lower. This 32,500 cap is based on the average bycatch prior to 2002, when the Yukon River Salmon Agreement was signed. The Agreement requires bycatch reduction and meeting escapement goals into Canada every year. Since 2002 bycatch has gone up, with over 121,000 Chinook salmon killed in the pollock fishery in one year!
The Chinook salmon that die each year in pollock nets would make a huge difference in the life and wellbeing of hundreds of rural Alaskan families in coming years. In these hard times for our communities and our Chinook salmon runs, every single salmon makes a difference.
Please join us in our effort to protect the Chinook salmon that Alaska’s Native peoples depend upon. Send a comment to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council asking them to protect salmon from pollock fishing bycatch.
They will be accepting written comments for consideration until March 25. You can also provide comments in person at the meeting in Anchorage, April 1-7. Please take a moment to request the bycatch cap be set at 32,500 for Chinook salmon.
Key points to include in comments are:
• The importance of Chinook salmon to you and the people of your region for subsistence and/or commercial fisheries;
• The impacts recent years of low Chinook runs have had on you, your family and your community;
• The Council and NMFS should adopt a hard cap of no more than 32,500 Chinook salmon immediately to protect Western Alaska Chinook salmon.
You can submit written comments to the Council.
Send to: North Pacific Fishery Management Council
605 West 4 Avenue, Suite 306
Anchorage, AK 99501-2252
Fax: (907) 271-2817
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Monday, March 9, 2009
Story From: Kim Murphy LATimes
In rural Alaska, villagers suffer in near silence
Bush residents struggle to balance the need for food with the need for fuel -- the building blocks of survival in a frigid winter that has months to go. Some call for massive airlifts of aid.
By Kim Murphy
January 25, 2009
Reporting from Tuluksak, Alaska
As the temperature plunged to minus-40 degrees last month, Nastasia Wassilie waited.The 61-year-old widow had run out of wood and fuel oil, and had no money to buy more. Nor was there much food in the house. But people here in rural Alaska try to take care of themselves. Her sister would come to help. Surely she would.Nearly three days later, when neighbors learned of Wassilie's plight, the Tribal Council put out a call on the VHF radio that is the lifeline for most of the far-flung Yupik Eskimo villages along this remote stretch of the Kuskokwim River.People who had enough gas for their snowmobiles immediately set off across miles of tundra, hauling firewood back to Wassilie's small house. A few offered helpings of dry fish, which most families keep in the larder for winter.There was little more they could do. Nearly every one of Tuluksak's roughly 500 residents is performing a perilous balancing act between food and fuel -- the building blocks of survival in a frigid winter that still has months to go.Life in rural Alaska always has been treacherous. But last year's dramatic escalation in fuel prices, combined with a disastrous fishing season, plunged the ramshackle villages of America's frontier into one of the worst crises in decades, prompting calls for humanitarian aid and demands for pricing reform."Holy Jiminy Christmas, what we're going through," said Dora Napoka, 49, the librarian at the village school. "It's like we have to choose between six gallons of stove oil or six gallons of gas to go out and get the firewood -- or does my baby need infant milk? Which one is more important?"The public alarm first sounded from Emmonak, a town of about 800 people near the mouth of the Yukon River, when Nicholas Tucker polled fellow villagers and found many in a state of desperation: They were running out of food after paying up to $200 a week for fuel oil to heat their homes."Help is needed and cannot be delayed," Tucker wrote in an open letter to state authorities that was published in several rural newspapers this month, requesting a "massive airlift" of food."What is mind-boggling about the whole situation is that they have remained silent, anonymous, suffered, and cried," he said.Tucker included a terse case list of 25 households he had contacted. It read like a report from a Third World country."Near-middle-aged couple, family of six. The husband cried as he was talking to me. . . . ," one summary read. "He receives a very small unemployment income and is out of fuel a lot. . . . His family has been out of food for quite some time now. Their 1-year-old child is out of milk, can't get it and [the father] has no idea when he will be able to get the next can. He has been borrowing milk from anyone he can. His moose meat supply is running out. . . . The electricity has skyrocketed and he can't pay all the bills."From a couple in their mid-30s: "He and his girlfriend have no heating fuel. Whatever money he gets goes to getting gasoline for his snow machine to get logs. . . . Today, they had nothing for breakfast. Most of the time, they have some dry fish for lunch or cup of noodles with [crackers]."As word of Emmonak's troubles spread, donations from across the country poured in. On Wednesday, a shipment of 5,300 pounds of food and other basic supplies was delivered by plane.But regional leaders say dozens of rural villages -- where unemployment is at 65% and higher -- quietly are enduring similar emergencies.The main reason is the price of heating fuel, which warms homes and powers village electrical plants. While the rest of the United States has seen prices ease since last summer, most Alaskan villages had to lock in purchase contracts for their fall fuel deliveries while costs were at their peak.Worse, some villages weren't able to get their bulk deliveries of winter fuel by barge because the early onset of winter froze the river. Much of the fuel now must be flown in, which makes it even more expensive. Residents in Tuluksak are paying $6.99 a gallon for heating fuel, up more than $2 from last year, and $6.58 for gasoline. In some villages, prices have climbed past $8 a gallon.A typical home here is a small, primitive cabin without running water that may shelter more than a dozen people. Even a family with a modern, efficient stove will spend $185 a week for heating."The oil is drilled right here in Alaska, and yet we're paying $8 a gallon? Something is amiss here. The oil companies are making billions of dollars, and people here can't afford to eat," said Pat Samson, social services director for the Assn. of Village Council Presidents in Bethel, about 35 miles southwest of Tuluksak.The price for heating fuel and gas is only the beginning of the story. Groceries must be flown in at ever-higher freight prices. A pound of hot dogs in the village store costs $7.39, and a two-pound loaf of domestic cheese runs $17.49. A loaf of Wonder Bread is $5.85.The cost of flying to Bethel has risen to $186 for a round trip, so few go there to shop -- and even fewer make the trip to the dentist or hospital until ailments become urgent.In earlier years, hunting, fishing and trapping helped villagers get by. But the market for fur has disappeared, and the fish stock has declined precipitously. Last year, there was no commercial fishing season at all for the region's mainstay, chinook salmon. Moose hunting, also because of declining numbers, hasn't been allowed around Tuluksak for five years."Me, I have 17 people living in my house," said Elena Gregory, the Tribal Council secretary. She is the only breadwinner in a household that includes her husband -- a seasonally employed carpenter -- four daughters, two sons-in-law and nine grandchildren."I'm lucky because I have a full-time job. . . . Most people are two weeks on, two weeks off," a job-sharing arrangement devised to spread out the village's 34 available jobs, Gregory said."Right now, my truck and my snow machine are out there rusting, because I can't afford gas for them," said Rachel Sallaffie, a teacher's aide. "But we're lucky. I have four freezers of birds and fish, and two months ago my husband got a caribou, so we still have meat."Samson, an Alaska Native who grew up in the region before going away to college in Fairbanks, helps villagers here apply for fuel subsidies and other aid programs.Walking through lots filled with abandoned vans and pickups -- the remnants of an era when the fishing was good enough that people could afford cars and could repair them when they broke down -- he pointed to a shack made of weathered plywood, its roof ripped open to the chilly sky."This guy asked for help fixing his house, but I couldn't do it -- too dangerous for the workers," he said."When I started this job, I was going to pay my student loans and then just work menial jobs after that, go commercial fishing in the summer. Now, I've been to just about all these villages, and I've seen things -- things that keep me working," he said. "It was going to be a six-month job, and come September, I'll be doing this for 18 years."The state has sent fact-finding delegations to the hardest-hit rural areas. Bill McAllister, spokesman for Gov. Sarah Palin, said officials were in the process of finding aid programs already in place that could be extended immediately to help afflicted families.The governor shepherded rural fuel subsidies and a $1,200-per-person fuel rebate through the Legislature last summer in anticipation of the high prices, and now is looking to see what more can be done, McAllister said.But doing much more can be politically difficult in a state where urban residents often resent the substantial subsidies that keep rural Alaska afloat.Stories about Emmonak prompted a number of angry comments to the Anchorage Daily News, some noting that rural families often collect tens of thousands of dollars from the state's annual oil dividends and from annual tribal corporation payouts, and asking why city dwellers should subsidize them even more."Folks who live in the bush do so because of a personal choice. Some just have the concept now that they need not save and conserve because the government will pay their way," one letter said. "When you are not able to live there for whatever reason, then move."At the moment, villagers in Tuluksak say their greatest hope is that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will come through again on his pledge to deliver free fuel to Native Americans -- a promise that could mean 100 gallons for many families."What most people do not realize is that what our country as a whole has been seeing for the past year or so is nothing compared to the economic conditions that have been prevailing in many of our Native communities for over 100 years," Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) told the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs on Jan. 15."It is truly tragic," she said, "that Alaska Native villages must depend on Venezuela for their safety net."There is talk of distributing state-funded fuel vouchers to ease the crisis until spring. But Tuluksak residents say no one is expecting much from Juneau."Two governors ago, we were promised no more honey buckets in the villages. And yet you see we still have the honey buckets," said Gregory, referring to the portable toilets that are a pungent feature everywhere in Tuluksak except the school."Sarah Palin got us the fuel rebate, but she never promised anything," Samson said. "Which I guess is to her credit."Wassilie was making her way to the village post office the other day -- her slight, shuffling figure smothered in a dark parka, moving like a blackbird on the snow.Asked why she had waited so long to seek help, she shrugged, and smiled, and blinked, and didn't answer at all.Tucker says he's seen the same thing all over. Shame. Pride. Silence."You would think a Yupik village like this would be aware of its neighbors' needs, but we weren't, because people were so shy and quiet," he said. "They were suffering alone. Like one of them said during our testimonials with the state officials, 'I thought I was the only one.' "email@example.com
Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
o TOILET PAPER (everyone is running out)
o Diapers Sizes 1, 3, & 6
o Similac Advanced Formula Powder
o Canned Evaporated Milk
o Dry Powdered Milk
o Powdered Eggs
o Peanut Butter
o Crackers (Sailor Boy Pilot Bread unsalted tops are the most used here)
o Coffee Creamer
o Pancake Mix
o Canned Vegetables
o canned fruits
o Dried Fruit
o Instant Soups
o Ramen Noodles
o Cup noodles
o Rice (minute rice)
o spaghetti and pasta noodles
NOTE: If items are individually wrapped, open them up and don’t send the packing materials…you’ll fit A LOT more in the box. (i.e.: packets of hot cocoa, individually wrapped tea bags, protein bars/granola bars/cereal bars, individual oatmeal packets, etc.)
High-protein foods are fantastic: nuts, oatmeal, peanut butter, canned meats, beef jerky, V-8 juice
Individual packets of nuts, sunflower seeds, trail mixes work well (and again if you toss the cardboard package, you can fit a lot of these in the boxes)
Evaporated milk & canned chicken or beef broth is a great thing to send, especially if you’re sending it w/ boxes of mac-n-cheese, instant potatoes, stuffing mixes, rice, oatmeal, hot cocoa, etc.
Look for canned items that can be heated & served w/o needing water (especially for villages that don’t have running water like Nunam Iqua) - stews, Progresso Soup, Spaghettio’s & canned spaghetti or ravioli, corned beef hash, spam, vienna sausages, sardines, canned gravies.
Those individual foil packets of tuna, salmon, & chicken breasts are great - high protein, heat-n-eat, and you can fit dozens of them in a box…..also, they’re easy to find at your dollar stores or discount stores like Big Lots.
Canned hams are great - and easy to find at the dollar stores…also canned tuna and sandwich spreads (like the Underwood chicken and roast beef)
Canned fruits, dried fruits, & individual packets of applesauce are greatYou can find canned brown bread in the baking section of your grocery store.
Whenever I’m in a fast-food restaurant or a gas station, I pick up a few seasoning packets to include in boxes - salt, pepper, ketchup, soy sauce, taco sauces, etc. Pack them in snack-size ziploc baggies & use them to fill in empty spaces in the boxes.
Think of toiletries, too: VITAMINS, hand sanitizers, eye drops, toothpaste, chapstick, heavy-duty hand creams (Neutrogena Hand Cream).
Diaper Wipes are terrific to send (and easy to find at the dollar stores) - they can be used in lieu of toilet paper, as well as for quick bathing when it’s hard to heat water (and fuel seems scarce there right now)….buy the individual foil-wrapped refill packets instead of the big bulky plastic boxes.
If you take them out of their cardbaord packages, you can fit a dozen or so packages in the square flat-rate boxes.
You can fit more cans in the shirt-box size flat rate boxes than in the square size.
You can fill up the empty spaces in the box with individually wrapped hard candies (think jolly ranchers) or bubble gum (like dubble bubble).
Canned goods and heavy boxes (pancake mix or rice) should always go flat-rate, but some things are MUCH cheaper to send in non-flat-rate boxes (although they should be priority mail) - cocoa, tea, oatmeal, beef jerky, instant potatoes, dried fruit — all cheaper in a non-flat-rate box…..from someone who has packed & mailed A LOT of emergency care-packages; I hope this is helpful!
Jane Thompson, Miami FL
Thanks Jane for the terrific tips on what to send & the best way to send things!
Update: The food, and other assistance, has been coming in to the villages but there is still great need. The fuel situation will stay about the same until April or May so I've heard. Some of the villages are getting more assistance than others because they are more organized or have a spokesperson that helps to get them aid, so do some checking into the situation to decide where (which community) you would like to help.
Please read this great newspaper article by Kyle Hopkins from The Anchorage Daily News:
Worldwide donations find way to lower YukonBy KYLE HOPKINSkhopkins@adn.com(02/13/09 19:31:56)
A wave of donated food and cash has swept into lower Yukon River villages over the past month, with more than 19,000 pounds of supplies and $13,000 landing in Emmonak alone.
Money appeared from donors in England and Bangkok. Villagers hundreds of miles away on the frozen edge of the state pitched in dried fish and muktuk. And, organizers say, much more help is on the way.
Cindy Beans has been tracking the gifts of peanut butter and rice and coffee for the Emmonak tribal council, where she watched the scene from her office window on Wednesday. Five, six, seven people passed by within 20 minutes on their way to the warehouse, each hauling away a small box of food on plastic sleds and snowmachines.
"Every day when it opens up, there's a flood of people heading over there," Beans said. When someone donates money, the council gives out vouchers for free fuel, 10 gallons at a time.
About 35 miles away across the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta is the village of Kotlik, where roughly 4,500 pounds of food arrived by plane last week from Fairbanks. In nearby Nunam Iqua -- where there's 200 people but no grocery story -- a Seattle restaurant is buying locals $1,600 of free fuel using money it raised selling plates of Yukon River salmon. Elders get first dibs on the vouchers, said the owner.
With few jobs and a high cost of living, many remote Alaska villages have struggled for decades, and that's when the economy doesn't stink. This year, stories of lower Yukon River families choosing between food and high-priced heating fuel, following a lousy fishing season, caught the world's attention.
The story began when an Emmonak man described his neighbors' plight in a January letter to rural newspapers. The call for help soon spread to neighboring western Alaska villages, amplified by bloggers who raised money to send a photographer to the village, and then coverage in larger and larger news media, including a CNN report over the weekend that hinged on that same photographer's footage.
Viewers and readers responded. In Anchorage, the Food Bank of Alaska collected more than $8,000 over just 10 days for Western Alaska villages, said managing director Merri Mike Adams.
The money is part of an aid effort organized by state Rep. Jay Ramras, R-Fairbanks, who hopes to send 3,000 to 4,000 pounds to nine Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta villages starting next week. All this amid a simmering beef between Ramras and Gov. Sarah Palin about how the state should help.
The state has said it can't legally declare a financial disaster in the region, something regional leaders have asked for for months, instead emphasizing existing aid programs and extending the local moose-hunting season. In a news conference in Juneau on Wednesday, Palin and her team talked about getting more regional workers jobs in seafood processing -- an industry filled with out-of-state employees, they say -- but details were scarce.
Even as the governor's new rural adviser plans a trip to Emmonak, similar tales of hardship are emerging from other cash-poor corners of the state.
For now, the focus is on Western Alaska, and the cause makes for an unlikely team of champions:
There are the left-leaning political bloggers and the right-leaning Anchorage Baptist Temple. Fairbanks churches rallied right away. Wal-Mart pitched in $1,000, according to a Ramras aide.
"Spank the Dog," a classic rock band composed of Juneau political-types -- lobbyists, a legislative staffer -- raised $4,500 for villages at a weekend "benefit concert," Ramras said.
In Florida, a travel writer and Web site designer named Jane Townsend read about Emmonak and started a blog of her own, collecting stories about the region and listing ways to donate money and food. She called her site "Anonymous Bloggers," a poke at the complaints Palin made about her unnamed, online critics.
A Yup'ik village 25 miles from Emmonak, Nunam Iqua had received about 2,200 pounds of food and supplies as of Tuesday, said local Ann Strongheart, who emerged as the online voice of the village by telling her story on blogs and news Web sites.
She now fields dozens of e-mails a day from people who want to help, and lately has been playing matchmaker -- pairing local families with donors like Sabine Stanley, of Virginia.
"These folks don't have time to wait on the government to help ... they need help right now," Stanley wrote in an e-mail this week. "So that's what my family and others across the nation and worldwide have done."
Among the other far-flung relief efforts:
• Alaska Newspapers Inc., a subsidiary of the regional Calista Corp., sent 4,300 pounds of food to Emmonak last month and has since gathered 3,200 pounds more. That drive continues.
• Talk radio hosts are talking up the effort of teachers and students at Hanshew Middle School to collect food in and outside their classrooms. Teacher Sharon Herrell said she recently paid $188 in postage to send the first 450-pound shipment to Emmonak.
Students tend to donate the food they'd like to eat themselves, Herrell said, meaning a few village families should expect cookies, cans of SphagettiOs and boxes of macaroni and cheese.
• A statewide nonprofit that serves young Emmonak families spent roughly $20,000 sending 12,000 pounds of food to the village late last month. The group, Rural Alaska Community Action Program, also plans to spend state money on weatherizing homes in the village, said executive director David Hardenbergh.
Last month, Commerce Commissioner Emil Notti mentioned the weatherization program -- which lawmakers injected with $200 million last year -- as a way to lower energy costs and create short-term jobs in the village.
Back in Emmonak, people are doing better since the food drive started, said Nicholas Tucker, who first wrote about the villagers choosing between food and fuel.
But the spotlight shows signs of spreading beyond the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. Tucker said he recently saw a letter in the Tundra Drums newspaper from a woman in Ugashik, in the Bristol Bay region, describing hardships of her own: Few moose to hunt, few salmon to catch and -- just like Emmonak -- a missed fuel shipment at a nearby village.
Find Kyle Hopkins online at adn.com/contact/khopkins or call him at 257-4334.
Tue Feb 24 17:52:01 PST 20091900 The Anchorage Daily News (www.adn.com)