Sandhill Crane pairs usually return to the same breeding territory each year, as long as habitat conditions remain suitable. Suitable habitat includes nest site, roosting area, feeding area, and sometimes isolation. Last year colts who return with their parents from the previous year are driven away when the mated pair is ready to begin nesting. Males typically establishing breeding territories close to where they were born.
Sandhill Cranes are ground nesters, building their nests primarily in wetlands, but also in upland grassy areas. Cranes create a nest from whatever plants are available. In the Homer area, cranes use both wetlands and upland areas. Known nests consist primarily of grasses and sedges. When the cranes return in the spring, the grasses and sedges are dull brown in color, offering cranes sufficient camouflage to help prevent detection from predators. Cranes often paint their feathers with mud to help them blend in with surrounding vegetation.
Alaska’s commercial fisheries programs could get a slight boost if the Governor’s budget for the next fiscal year gets a nod from legislators.
The proposed FY2013 operating budget for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, including all state and federal funds, is just over $209 million, a 5.1 percent increase. For commercial fisheries, the department’s most expensive unit, a budget of $70.5 million is a 4.4 percent increase.
Gov. Parnell also is proposing a bond package that includes $10 million to help Seward prepare to homeport large at-sea processing boats owned by communities in the Kuskokwim region. The vessels now are based in Seattle, and it could begin a transfer of other big boats to remain in Alaska year round.
New rules set for 2013 will change how observers are placed on fishing boats as small as 40 feet – and for the first time, they will be aboard longliners.
Onboard observers have been deployed on larger U.S. vessels since the early 1990’s, when fisheries were “Americanized” and all foreign fishing within a 200 mile zone of the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska was terminated. Prior to that, fleets from Japan, Russia, Poland and other nations were tapping Alaska’s groundfish and crab resources starting in 1933.
It took nearly two years for a decision, but last week the state denied a citizens’ petition aimed at protecting Cook Inlet fisheries from coal mining. The petition, by the Chuitna Citizens Coalition and Cook Inletkeeper asked that buffer zones be required to protect salmon streams of the Chuitna River should a coal mine be built. In a 109-page report, Dept. of Natural Resources commissioner Dan Sullivan claimed the petitioners’ request would ‘ban all surface coal mining on these lands.’
The Chuitna strip mine, so called because it removes wetlands and land overlay, would be the largest coal mine in Alaska.
State officials say there is “no reason to panic” and that Alaska salmon are “relatively safe” from a deadly fish virus that has appeared for the first time in Pacific waters.
“I would say the risk right now for Alaska salmon is low,” said Dr. Ted Meyers, a fish pathologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Meyers added that the state is “sort of in a holding pattern,” awaiting more information.
Bering Sea crabbers got good news and bad news last week when catch quotas were announced for fisheries that open next week.
The bad news: the catch for Alaska’s most famous crab fishery – Bristol Bay red kings – was slashed by 47 percent to just 7.8 million pounds. Crabbers were expecting a reduced harvest, but they were shocked by the big drop.
The crab harvest is the second lowest since 2001 when 7.1 million pounds were taken, according to Wayne Donaldson, a longtime crab biologist at ADF&G in Kodiak.
Fish tags with iPhone technology are being used for the first time to track halibut migrations based on the earth’s magnetic field. Cash rewards of $500 are being offered to get the tags back so scientists can see how well they work.
“This year the technology that everyone has been talking about for a decade but hasn’t been able to miniaturize are tags that record magnetic field strength on three axes and have accelerometers and pitch and roll detectors.
The first wholesale price for salmon gives the best indicator of how well it should sell in world markets. And prices in 2011 show nice increases so far, nearly across the board.
In its Annual Salmon Price Report (ASPR) the state Revenue Department/Tax Division provides average wholesale prices for salmon as it sells throughout the year. The report is broken down by Alaska region and covers six product forms: canned, fresh/frozen whole, fresh/frozen fillets and roe. The reports are compiled from prices submitted by processors that sold at least one million pounds at wholesale. The ASPR covering sales from January through April show that prices were up substantially in almost every salmon category
By Laine Welch Alaskans have a strong personal connection to salmon and believe the iconic fish is essential to the Alaskan way of life and the state’s economy. Furthermore, they rate the health and abundance of salmon as a top concern on par with the federal budget deficit, and even higher than concerns about jobs. [...]