Here is a sampling of Alaska editorials:

April 10, 2018

Ketchikan Daily News: Not on our watch

Forecasts for low returns of wild king salmon to the Unuk River and other king spawning waterways in Southeast Alaska have prompted substantial reductions in harvest opportunities in the region, especially in inside waters.

This will have a broad impact this year, affecting commercial fishermen, the guided sport sector and everyday sport anglers.

Around Ketchikan, most areas are now closed to the retention of sport-caught king salmon through June 14 — with a portion of northern Revillagigedo Channel and southeast Behm Canal closed to the retention of kings through Aug. 14. Northeast Behm Canal and a portion of Behm Canal around the north end of Revillagigedo Island is fully closed to all salmon fishing all year, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

This is the time of year that many Ketchikan people begin looking forward to fishing for king salmon, especially in the Ketchikan CHARR Educational Fund King Salmon Derby. That event has been canceled, as have annual derbies in Wrangell and Juneau.

The commercial sector will feel effects, as well.

This year’s commercial troll harvest limit for king salmon in Southeast Alaska is 95,700 kings, about 59,100 fewer fish than the preseason limit for 2017.

Commercial seine harvesters will be prohibited from retaining king salmon greater than 28 inches in length outside of terminal harvest areas, and commercial gillnetters will have combinations of time, mesh and/or area restrictions.

The realization that king salmon stocks have declined in Southeast Alaska is troubling, to say the least. King salmon are iconic, closely intertwined with the region’s history, culture and economy. The State of Alaska is correct to implement restrictive harvest limits this year.

But reducing harvests is a reaction to a symptom; it’s medicine that might or might not be enough to address the problem.

Simply put, we don’t know what’s causing the declines of king salmon in Alaska. There are a handful of hypothesis, but no clear explanations. We need a clear explanation in hand.

Thus do we encourage the state and federal governments to develop research efforts that might provide real answers. We understand that such answers could prove difficult to obtain, and could cause distress to established interests and ways of doing things.

But with the health of king salmon stocks now in question, we no longer have the luxury of casually guessing at the cause or causes.

Let’s figure out why stocks are declining while there could be time to stem the decline if cutting harvests by local sport and commercial fishers isn’t enough.

Let’s not lose wild king salmon on our watch.


April 6, 2018

Peninsula Clarion: Still a need to ‘choose respect’

In what has become an annual event, the Choose Respect March took place April 4 in Kenai. Dozens of participants made the walk along Frontage Road to the Kenai Visitors Center, where they were joined by many more voices raising awareness of domestic violence issues.

“I know in our community it’s always been very well attended,” Cheri Smith, LeeShore Center executive director, told the Clarion. “We have a lot of support. It’s just a way for us to really talk about prevention, talk about what’s happening in our community, and just have a really great awareness of this.”

Unfortunately, the numbers show the need for the continued efforts to raise awareness. According to the Alaska Victimization Study, first conducted on 2010 and repeated in 2015, about half of all women in Alaska have experienced sexual violence, intimate partner violence or both.

Take a moment to think about that statistic. If you have two daughters, or two sisters, or two female co-workers or friends, chances are that one of them has experienced or will experience domestic violence. The thought should make us all shudder.

However, attitudes toward domestic violence are changing — the change is slow, but it is happening. For a long time, it has been taboo to talk about domestic violence; the prevailing attitude has been that it’s not anyone else’s businesses what goes on behind closed doors.

There are a number of efforts under way to help prevent domestic violence. One such effort is the Green Dot Program, which was launched on the central Kenai Peninsula by the LeeShore Center five years ago. The goal of the program is to change red dots — acts of domestic violence — into green dots, representing an action taken to prevent domestic violence. The program provides “bystander training” to teach community members ways to intervene where there is the potential for abuse.

We hope there comes a day when a Choose Respect event isn’t necessary to raise awareness of an issue that affects so many people. But until then, we’re heartened to see attiudes changing and more people willing to engage in finding solutions and curbing violence.


April 6, 2018

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Public process alive and well at DOT

The Alaska Department of Transportation has, for now, at least, grounded its proposal to institute an aircraft registration fee that was designed to help fund rural airports and better track the number of aircraft in the state for planning purposes.

To say that pilots didn’t like the idea would be an understatement.

The Department of Transportation reports that it received significant comment about the proposed fees. Because of that, it put the plan back in the hangar for some maintenance.

The DOT on Monday published a notice that it “is withdrawing for further consideration the currently proposed changes to the regulations.” The notice goes on: “New regulations will be proposed regarding this matter in the near future.”

That’s it for now. And that’s good.

The DOT announcement follows a statement in late January from the department’s Aviation Advisory Board that acknowleded concerns from aviators, saying the board had expressed the concerns at a meeting with DOT staff and the Federal Aviation Administration. According to the statement, the board would work with DOT staff on a new proposal, which would then go out for public comment once again.

In defense of the DOT, it does have to comply with an FAA requirement that the state provide annual updates on where aircraft are based within the state’s aviation system. Registering aircraft is seen by the state as a means to achieve this.

And then there’s the DOT’s budget, because it operates the state’s 240 airports. It costs about $40 million annually to keep them going, and Alaskans should well know by now that the state doesn’t have as much money as it once did. With that reality, DOT officials looked at the fees associated with aircraft registration as a way to raise some funds. The fees wouldn’t bring in too much, about $1.3 million to $1.5 million each year, but it would help.

Pilots, according to a survey, mostly preferred another option. They say an increase in the aviation fuel tax is the way to raise money for operation of the airports.

The DOT put the idea out for public comment in November, and the reaction from the aviation community was swift. DOT officials, to their credit, have listened and will try again.

That’s the way the system should work