Debate continues over Bering Sea halibut bycatch

Nowhere in the world do people have as much opportunity to speak their minds to fish policy makers as they do in Alaska. As decision day approaches, a groundswell of Alaska voices is demanding that fishery overseers say bye-bye to halibut bycatch in the Bering Sea.
They are speaking out against the more than 6 million pounds of halibut that are dumped overboard each year as bycatch in trawl fisheries that target flounder, rockfish, perch, mackerel and other groundfish (not pollock).

Goodbye, childcare costs … hello, college savings opportunities

If you’re a working parent, you know firsthand about the difficulties of finding quality, affordable care for your children. But eventually, your kids head off to school, and those child care bills go away, or at least diminish greatly. When that happens, you could start putting away money for another one of your children’s milestones: college.
Just how expensive is child care? Costs vary greatly among the 50 states, but the national average for a 4-year-old at a child care center is approximately $7,880 per year, according to Child Care Aware of America, a child care resource and referral agency sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. What could you do with this money once your child enters kindergarten?

Researchers look at fishermen’s long-term health problems

How much are fishermen affected by long-term health problems like hearing loss, lack of sleep and high blood pressure? A pilot study aims to find out, and researchers are using the 500-plus members of the Copper River salmon driftnet fleet as test subjects.
“The Copper River fishing season lasts five months, and most of the fleet is very digitally connected, so it seemed a great fit,” said Torie Baker, a Sea Grant Marine Advisory Agent in Cordova.

Give Mom more than just flowers

Mother’s Day is almost here. This occasion may have special significance for you if you’ve been fortunate enough to have your mother around for your adult life. So naturally, you’ll want to bring Mom some flowers or another gift. But if she’s planning to retire soon, you may want to think about a longer-term way to improve her life — namely, by initiating a conversation about her retirement income strategy.
Of course, she may already have matters well in hand. But a great many people on the verge of retirement have not planned for those years, so you may be able to provide some valuable suggestions. Here are a few ideas:

Researchers disagree on pink/sockeye ‘food fight’

Alaska salmon producers are not buying the presumption that growing numbers of pinks are eating too much food in the ocean, causing sockeye salmon to grow slower and smaller.
That’s the claim of a new study by Seattle and British Columbia researchers, who say the race for food ultimately affects sockeye abundance and survival.
“Our data sets extend up to 55 years each,” said Greg Ruggerone, a researcher at Natural Resources Consultants in Seattle and study co-author. “In looking at productivity or survival of salmon, they’ve included 36 sockeye populations.”

How can you become a ‘healthy’ investor?

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. This “month” is designed to encourage people to follow a healthy, active lifestyle. You can take steps toward this goal, of course, but why not carry the concept of improving health to other areas of your life — such as your investments?
Toward that end, consider these suggestions:

Alaska fish hatcheries ‘very different’ from fish farms

Each year, more than one third of all the salmon caught in Alaska begin their lives in a hatchery.
There are 31 hatchery facilities in Alaska: 15 privately owned, 11 state-owned, two federal research facilities, one tribal hatchery at Metlakatla and two state-owned sport fish hatcheries.
Alaska’s hatchery program is very different from fish farming, where salmon are crammed tightly into net pens until they’re ready for market. All salmon born in Alaska’s hatcheries come from wild brood stock, and are released as fingerlings to the sea. When those fish return home, they make a huge contribution to the catch.

Can you free yourself from some investment taxes?

April 24 has been designated Tax Freedom Day for 2015. Tax Freedom Day, calculated by the Tax Foundation, is the day when the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay off its total tax bill for the year. So it may be a good time to review your own situation to determine if you can “free” yourself from some investment-related taxes in the future.
Of course, Tax Freedom Day is something of a fiction, in practical terms, because most people pay their taxes throughout the year via payroll deductions. Also, you may not mind paying your share of taxes because your tax dollars are used in a variety of ways — such as law enforcement, food safety, road maintenance, public education and so on — that, taken together, have a big impact on the quality of life in this country. Nonetheless, you may well want to look for ways to reduce those taxes associated with your investments, leaving you more money available to meet your important goals, such as a comfortable retirement.

PWS sablefish tagging pots lost in tug-boat encounters

A mile-long string of 29 sablefish pots was lost last month in Prince William Sound after being run over by tugs towing barges at Knight Island Passage.
“It appears that some tug boats passed back and forth across where the gear was set, and now we have no idea where it is,” said Maria Wessel, a groundfish biologist at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game office at Cordova.
The pots are part of an ongoing tagging study started in 2011 to track the movement of the Sound’s sablefish stock. It was intended to be the third test run for the project.

HB 179 would allow for subsistence, sport-caught food donations

Caribou instead of corn dogs; salmon instead of Trout Treasures; seal meat in place of spaghetti; all could soon be available to more Alaskans if traction continues on a new bipartisan bill before the Alaska Legislature. 

The bill — HB 179 — allows schools, senior centers, hospitals, child care centers and other facilities to accept and serve fish, game, plants and eggs that are donated by subsistence and sport users.

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