Articles written by Yereth Rosen

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  • Legislature adjourns after passing budget with $1,655 PFD and one-time $680 per-student school funding boost


    The 33rd Alaska State Legislature came to a shuddering but active end early Thursday morning as lawmakers passed the state’s annual budget and a series of high-profile bills addressing crime, climate change, the looming Cook Inlet energy crunch, and problems with the state’s correspondence education programs. “I think it was a great session,” said Speaker of the House Cathy Tilton, R-Wasilla. “We’ve taken care of energy … we were able to take care of the correspondence folks. And we had a great crime bill that we passed. So I think it was... Full story

  • Russian objection to U.S. territorial claims off Alaska complicates maritime relationship

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|Apr 11, 2024

    New U.S. claims to seabed territory off Alaska have run into an obstacle: an objection from the Russian government. The Russian government, which has staked territorial claims to most of the Arctic Ocean, is challenging the U.S. claims made in December to sovereignty over 520,400 square kilometers of extended outer continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean – an area bigger than California - and another 176,330 square kilometers in the Bering Sea. The U.S. does not have the right to make such claims... Full story

  • Alaska Legislature boosts allowable payments from fund that covers fishers' crew medical costs

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|Apr 4, 2024

    Maximum payouts from a fund that covers medical costs of injured seafood harvesters would be boosted under a bill that won final passage in the Alaska Legislature on Thursday. The measure, Senate Bill 93, would boost allowable payouts from the Fishermen’s Fund to $15,000 per injury or disablement from the current $10,000 maximum. The Fishermen’s Fund serves as something of a stand-in for workers’ compensation. Commercial fishers in Alaska are not covered by workers’ compensation insurance. The fund, which predates statehood, is adminis... Full story

  • Federal budget bill includes money to buy a Coast Guard icebreaker to be based in Alaska

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|Mar 28, 2024

    Money to purchase an icebreaker for the U.S. Coast Guard to be based in Juneau is in a pending federal defense bill more than a year after similar funding was dropped at the last minute from another budget bill, members of Alaska’s congressional delegation said on Thursday. The pending Homeland Security Appropriations Act, which is part of a broader federal budget bill, includes $125 million to buy an icebreaker to add to the Coast Guard’s meager fleet, the delegation members said. “This is really good news for Alaska, good news for Ameri... Full story

  • Leading Alaska legislators propose task force to help rescue a seafood industry 'in a tailspin'

    Yereth Rosen|Mar 14, 2024

    Russian fish flooding global markets and other economic forces beyond the state’s border have created dire conditions for Alaska’s seafood industry. Now key legislators are seeking to establish a task force to come up with some responses to the low prices, lost market share, lost jobs and lost income being suffered by fishers, fishing companies and fishing-related communities. The measure, Senate Concurrent Resolution 10, was introduced on March 1 and is sponsored by the Senate Finance Committee. “Alaska’s seafood industry is in a tailspi... Full story

  • USDA commits to big purchase of Alaska salmon and pollock for national food programs

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|Feb 22, 2024

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture will purchase about 50 million pounds of Alaska seafood to use in national food and nutrition-assistance programs, state officials said on Tuesday. The seafood purchase is to benefit needy children and adults and school lunches, said the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, which announced the department’s plans. The purchases are authorized through a portion of federal law called Section 32, which allows the department to buy surplus food products, and through the department’s Commodity Credit Corp., a gov... Full story

  • Executive order bars imports of Russian fish that is processed in other countries

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|Dec 28, 2023

    Russian seafood will no longer be legally allowed in U.S. markets after it is processed in China, under an executive order issued Friday by President Joe Biden. The action seeks to close a loophole that the Russian seafood industry was able to use to skirt import sanctions put in place in 2022 in response to the invasion of Ukraine. The ban is now extended to any seafood caught in Russian waters or by Russian-flagged vessels, "notwithstanding whether such products have been incorporated or...

  • Alaska minimum wage set to increase in new year; additional hikes proposed in ballot initiative

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|Nov 23, 2023

    Alaska’s minimum wage will increase on Jan. 1, 2024 from $10.85 to $11.73 an hour, in accordance with a law put in place by a 2014 citizen initiative, the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced. The law mandates regular increases in the minimum wage to match inflation rates as determined by the Consumer Price Index in Anchorage. Compared to the rest of the nation, the state’s minimum wage is “a little bit middling right now,” said Joelle Hall, president of the Alaska AFL-CIO. It appears on track to stay that way for at... Full story

  • Debate over Pebble mine in Alaska's Bristol Bay region moves to dueling Supreme Court briefs

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|Nov 16, 2023

    The company trying to build a huge copper and gold mine in the salmon-rich Bristol Bay will keep fighting for the project, despite a decision by the federal government to keep the proposed development site off-limits to large-scale metals mining. John Shively, chief executive officer of the Pebble Limited Partnership, made that vow in a presentation at the Alaska Miners Association annual convention in Anchorage. He said the Pebble mine had the potential to transform the economy and improve lives in the rural Bristol Bay region, just as he... Full story

  • Salmon returns to Alaska's Bristol Bay expected to drop to more normal levels next year

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|Nov 16, 2023

    After recent years of record or near-record runs and harvests, Bristol Bay sockeye salmon numbers are expected to return to more average levels next year, according to state biologists. The 2024 Bristol Bay sockeye salmon run is expected to total 39 million fish, with a predicted range between about 25 million and 53 million fish, according to a preliminary forecast released Friday by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. That is 35% lower than the average over the past 10 years but 6% higher than the long-term average for Bristol Bay, the... Full story

  • Alaska flu cases increased last year, spiking in early winter, while vaccine rates lagged

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|Oct 19, 2023

    After a period when COVID-19 restrictions halted the spread of other respiratory diseases, Alaska had a big increase in influenza cases, state data shows. The overall influenza case load during the 2022-23 season was much higher than in prior years, reports a new bulletin issued by the epidemiology section of the Alaska Division of Public Health. Most notably, cases spiked much earlier in the season, in November and December, before dropping. There were five influenza deaths over the season, all among adults, according to the bulletin, the late... Full story

  • Pebble Mine company to pay shareholders who claim they were duped

    Yereth Rosen|Jun 15, 2023

    The company behind the controversial Pebble Mine in Southwest Alaska has agreed to pay nearly $6.4 million to a group of shareholders who claim they were misled by corporate leaders. Vancouver-based Northern Dynasty Minerals Ltd. reached the settlement with the named plaintiffs, according to documents filed last week in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The settlement is the product of two lawsuits, later consolidated, alleging that Northern Dynasty and the Pebble Limited Partnership had defrauded investors through... Full story

  • Fishers harvesting abundant Bristol Bay sockeye could fill knowledge gaps about declining Chinook

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|Jun 8, 2023

    In the Bristol Bay region, sockeye salmon runs have been booming while Chinook runs have dwindled. Now scientists are seeking to enlist fishing crews in the effort to find out why, as well as what can be done about the Chinook troubles. A community-focused program called Skipper Science is asking for Bristol Bay fishermen working on the salmon-rich Nushagak River to record the prevalence, locations and conditions of Chinook salmon they encounter – and the places where they are not found. The Nushagak project is a partnership between Skipper S... Full story

  • Alaska House follows Senate to pass bill authorizing sale of carbon credits from state land

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|May 18, 2023

    The Alaska House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a bill that would allow the state to set up a system for using state land to sell carbon-offset credits. The House action amounted to final passage of the bill, which was approved the previous day by the state Senate. The measure, Senate Bill 48, authorizes the Alaska Department of Natural Resources to lease out state land for up to 55 years for the purpose of preserving its powers to absorb atmospheric carbon. The bill has been a high priority for Gov. Mike Dunleavy. The Republican... Full story

  • Wastewater plants at Southeast sites likely to need upgrades to control bacteria

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|May 11, 2023

    Alaska’s coastal communities are home to more than a third of the U.S. wastewater plants that are still allowed to treat their sewage at the lowest and most basic technological level. But six cities in Southeast Alaska may soon have to invest in improvements to better clean their wastewater before discharging it into the ocean. That is the message from draft permits that have been released or are to be released by the Environmental Protection Agency, which has determined that too much bacteria is going from the sites into marine waters. The a... Full story

  • Fishery expert says he is optimistic about long-term prospects for Bristol Bay sockeye salmon

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|Apr 13, 2023

    The long-term outlook is bright for Bristol Bay sockeye runs, source of a thriving commercial fishery that has enjoyed record-breaking returns and harvests in recent years, a salmon expert told a conference last month. Part of the credit goes to the warming climate in that southeast Bering Sea region, Daniel Schindler, a professor at the University of Washington's School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, said in a teleconferenced presentation on March 24 to the two-day Bristol Bay Sustainability... Full story

  • Alaska officials prepare for possible commercial fishing expansion into Arctic waters

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|Apr 13, 2023

    Bans on commercial fishing in U.S. and international Arctic waters have been lauded as admirable preemptive actions that protect vulnerable resources before they are damaged by exploitation. But now the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is preparing for a time when the 14-year-old moratorium on commercial fishing in federal Arctic waters is lifted. The department is seeking $1 million in state general funds and another $2 million in federal funds to work on research to better understand those Arctic waters in the event that commercial... Full story

  • Fishery disaster aid and nearly $500 million worth of Alaska projects included in omnibus budget bill

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|Dec 29, 2022

    Aid to Alaska fishermen, companies and communities was included in the year-end omnibus appropriations package that won final passage last Friday. The $300 million in aid funding follows official disaster declarations issued last week by U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo for Alaska salmon and crab fishery failures dating back to 2020, as well as some salmon failures in Washington state dating back to 2019. “This will be relief for commercial, recreational, subsistence harvesters, all those who were directly impacted by the fishery stock cra... Full story

  • Alaska crab fishery collapse seen as warning about Bering Sea transformation

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|Dec 22, 2022

    Less than five years ago, prospects appeared bright for Bering Sea crab fishers. Stocks were abundant and healthy, federal biologists said, and prices were near all-time highs. Now two dominant crab harvests have been canceled for lack of fish. For the first time, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in October canceled the 2022-2023 harvest of Bering Sea snow crab, and it also announced the second consecutive year of closure for another important harvest, that of Bristol Bay red king crab. What has happened between then and now? A sustained... Full story

  • Fishery disasters declared for several poor or closed Alaska crab and salmon harvests

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|Dec 22, 2022

    U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Friday approved disaster declarations for several distressed fisheries, including the recently canceled Bering Sea snow crab and Bristol Bay red crab harvests. The declarations are for poor or closed Alaska harvests going back to 2020. They cover failures in the crab fisheries for this season and last season, the closure of king crab fishing in Norton Sound in 2020 and 2021, the collapse of chum and coho harvests in the Kuskokwim River area, the poor... Full story

  • In closely watched Alaska U.S. Senate and House races, outcomes will take 2 weeks to be determined

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|Nov 10, 2022

    The nation's eyes are on the U.S. Senate and House races in Alaska, but anyone wanting to know the outcome will have to be patient. Defending their seats are two high-profile women. In the Senate is Lisa Murkowski, a Republican who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump – and who has been the target of ire from Trump and from hard-liner conservatives. She trailed Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka by a small margin, 42.7% to 44.4% of the first 216,000 votes counted. But Murkowski w... Full story

  • At Kodiak fisheries debate, Gara and Walker find common ground while Dunleavy is a no-show

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon Writer|Oct 6, 2022

    At a forum on fishery issues held in the seaport town of Kodiak, two of the leading gubernatorial contenders spent time focusing on a man who was not there: incumbent Gov. Mike Dunleavy. After about an hour of in-depth discussions of fishery issues that included climate change and its effects in the oceans, the role of hatchery fish in the ecosystem and economy, the infrastructure and workforce development needs of the fishing industry and state fiscal policies, former state Rep. Les Gara and former Gov. Bill Walker turned their fire directly... Full story

  • State requests 100% federal disaster funding to pay storm costs

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon writer|Sep 29, 2022

    Alaska officials are asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide 100% of the funds necessary for Western Alaska communities to recover from damages inflicted by Typhoon Merbok. That would match the 100% funding that was committed to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Fiona in President Joe Biden’s federal disaster declaration. Typically, FEMA covers 75% of disaster-relief costs, leaving the remainder to be matched by state, local or tribal governments. For Western Alaska, “we feel that that’s just not acceptable, parti... Full story

  • NOAA office releases strategic science plan to support Alaska mariculture ambitions

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon|Sep 1, 2022

    Alaska has special opportunities for developing a thriving aquaculture industry, but also special challenges that stand in the way of such ambitions, according to a new strategic science plan issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The plan is intended to guide aquaculture-related research conducted over the next five years by NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center. It considers ways that science can help achieve the ambitions championed by a state panel seeking to expand the industry. The Governor’s Mariculture Task For... Full story

  • To encourage more young fishermen, look to farm programs as models, new study argues

    Yereth Rosen, Alaska Beacon writer|Aug 25, 2022

    Young Alaskans seeking to break into commercial fishing face a lot of the same barriers that confront young farmers in the Lower 48 states, but they have far fewer resources to help overcome those barriers, according to newly published research. A study by Alaska experts with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration argues that the fishing industry and the communities that depend on fishing should have support similar to that offered to young farmers. “The sheer scale, depth, and breadth of programming for beginning farmers makes t... Full story

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