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KNBA News - British Columbia, Alaska sign cooperative agreement; Alaska soldiers return from Kuwait

Nov. 6, 2015

British Columbia, Alaska Sign Cooperative Agreement

By Associated Press

British Columbia's minister of energy and mines is hailing as significant the signing of a cooperative agreement between his province and the state of Alaska. The agreement is not legally binding. But Bill Bennett says it's an agreement on an approach to problem-solving and a relationship. The agreement lays out several areas of shared interest, including continued efforts to address concerns about the impacts of mining or other developments on trans-boundary waters.


Alaska Soldiers Return From Kuwait

By Associated Press

Some Alaska soldiers are coming home after a nine-month deployment to Kuwait.

The U.S. Army says about 40 soldiers from the 716th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Detachment will be reunited with family and friends today [Friday]. The soldiers are part of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division. The homecoming will take place at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

During their deployment, the soldiers worked daily alongside military service members from Kuwait and other partnering nations stationed in the region.


Thin ice on the Kuskokwim River endangers travelers

By Associated Press

In western Alaska, residents are being advised not to use the Kuskokwim River because of thinning ice. KYUK reports the advisory comes after Bethel Search and Rescue conducted an aerial survey along a 50-mile stretch of the river, from Napaskiak to Tuluksak. Officials report there are about 50 open holes in the ice along that stretch of the popular winter road.


Despite Eager Market, Catching Yukon Eel-Like Lamprey Isn't Easy

By Tim Bodony, KIYU - Galena

The annual run of lamprey is headed up the Yukon River. 

Diverse commercial markets for the snake-like creature have opened up over the past few years…but actually catching them can be tricky. 

To catch a Yukon River lamprey, you need good, solid river ice, and perfect timing. 

For almost 15 years, Kwik’pak Fisheries has tried to operate a commercial lamprey fishery on lower Yukon sometime around Thanksgiving, but General Manager Jack Schultheis says, more than other fisheries, this one is hit or miss.    

“It’s not a run like salmon that goes on for days or weeks,” said Schultheis. “The lamprey run goes on for hours, and then that’s it.”   

Lamprey swim upriver to spawn.  But unlike salmon, lamprey bunch together in one big horde as they move upriver, and run under the cover of ice. 

Fishermen at Mountain Village started the commercial lamprey harvest on November 17th, when a few thousand pounds of lamprey were taken.  That harvest was curtailed by a lack of adequate river ice to give fishermen access to the main channel, according to Schultheis. 

Kwik’pak is expecting a stronger harvest of lamprey from the village of Grayling sometime in the next few days.  

The unpredictable nature of the lamprey harvest makes it hard to commercialize, according to Schultheis, because buyers want a steady supply year after year.  Nevertheless, Yukon River lamprey gets shipped far and wide for a variety of purposes.

“Some of them go to Europe, some of them go to Asia, and some of them go into the bait market in the lower 48,” said Schultheis. “And that all hinges on how much volume we get.  When we get a lot of lamprey, then it is feasible to ship overseas – that’s in 20,000 pound increments.  It’s gotta be a really good year to get that kind of volume.” 

By those standards, 2014 was a very good year, with just over 40 thousand pounds of lamprey sold commercially. 

The parasitic creatures are typically caught with long handled dip nets, or impaled on long poles fixed with spikes.    

Lamprey also have a long history of subsistence use in certain villages, where they are commonly referred to as eels.  Nearly half of their mass is fat, making them a good high-energy food for sled dogs.  As human food, they are often smoked and jarred.  And their skins can be used to make bags or even parkas. 


NOTE: Posted 2/21/16