Funding for various fisheries and projects has been penciled into the state's budget for next year.
Fisheries funding for 2010, and a Christmas fish story 123009 BUSINESS 4 Capital City Weekly Funding for various fisheries and projects has been penciled into the state's budget for next year.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Story last updated at 12/30/2009 - 12:13 pm

Fisheries funding for 2010, and a Christmas fish story

Funding for various fisheries and projects has been penciled into the state's budget for next year.

Last week Gov. Parnell unveiled the proposed budget for the 2010/2011 fiscal year which begins July 1. For the Deptartment of Fish and Game, the operating budget request is $188.6 million, including general fund and federal dollars, 4.1 percent higher than the current budget.

For Fish and Game's largest division, commercial fisheries, the budget request of $61.7 million is less than a one percent increase. The Parnell budget also is proposing a $31.3 million capital budget for special Fish and Game projects.

Among them: $250,000 to develop a database for the deckhand labor data project: $200,000 for Yukon River chum salmon aerial surveys, $250,000 for assessment and feasibility of the Yukon R. sonar at Pilot Station; $750,000 for genetic screening to estimate stock composition of Western Alaska salmon fisheries, $600,000 for research on Alaska marine mammals on the Endangered Species list; and $700,000 for facilities, vessels, and aircraft maintenance and upgrades.

Bigger capital budget getters include the following: The Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, $15 million; $7.5 million for Pacific Salmon Treaty Chinook fishery mitigation, and $2 million for statewide facility deferred maintenance projects.

For other ADF&G divisions, the proposed Sport Fish budget is down slightly to $47.5 million. The Wildlife Conservation Division is in line for a 12.5 percent budget increase to $41.3 million. The Habitat Division also is penciled in for a sizeable increase. The governor's proposed budget must be approved by the Alaska legislature, which convenes in mid-January. (Thanks to the assist by Wesley Loy at

And from the feds

The $446.8 billion Omnibus Appropriations bill passed by the Senate last Wednesday includes funding for the following fish projects, according to the Marine Conservation Alliance's Tom Gemmell:

Alaska Data Buoys: $1.68 million

Bering Sea Crab Management and Research: $300,000

Extended Continental Shelf Mapping: $300,000

Magnuson-Stevens Marine Education Training: $1 million

Marine Mammal Research: $500,000

Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund: $80 million

Seal and Steller Sea Lions Biological Research: $300,000

Yukon River Drainage Fisheries Association: $100,000

Yukon River Salmon Agreement Studies: $500,000

Naknek, Infrastructure Expansion at the Port of Bristol Bay: $1 million

Sitka Waterfront Development: $487,000

Alaska brand boosts seafood

The menu is still the most important factor in dining decisions when Americans go out to eat. And 77 percent say the Alaska brand makes them more likely to select seafood. Those are the findings of a national study by the Hale Group, specializing in food and agribusiness industries. The study, done for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, reports on perceptions and preferences at fast food and casual dining chains. Other findings:

There is increased awareness of the impacts food choices have on the environment and our health.

76 percent said they care about the source of seafood and that it is sustainable.

76 percent believe Alaska seafood has high omega 3 content.

59 percent said they eat seafood more at restaurants than two years ago, because it tastes good and for health reasons.

76 percent said they prefer wild, ocean-caught seafood because it tastes better; only 10 percent prefer farm-raised fish.

81 percent believe Alaska seafood comes from icy, clean waters.

84 percent said they would like more seafood choices at fast food restaurants; especially in salads.

A fried fish sandwich attracted 32 percent of diners; when the term "Alaska pollock" was added it jumped to 68 percent.

72 percent preferred the term "Wild Alaska" over "organic" in describing seafood, especially for salmon.

Find the 'Menu Alaska' report at

Christmas fish story

From Mt. Desert Island, Maine: A female lobster crawling around off the Maine coast has cheated death at least 10 times, thanks to Barbie and a couple of Mount Desert fishermen.

As a gag, Jim Bright and his stern man, Chris Costello, outfitted the lobster in doll clothes-a blue blouse, red and white checkered skirt and pink high heels-before placing her into a friend's trap last September.

"It's a monotony hauling traps day after day," said Costello, "and we just wanted to break it up a little bit. It totally worked."

Barbie Lobster, as she is known, has been hauled up by various fishermen at least 10 times along the 26-mile channel between Baker's Island and Mount Desert Rock.

The VHF radios used by lobstermen would buzz with chatter and laughter each time a new sighting of Barbie was reported.

Costello made a special trip to Wal-Mart in Ellsworth to buy the Barbie clothes.

The fishermen had wanted to dress up a jumbo lobster, but it was too fat to fit into a Barbie doll outfit. They chose a svelte one-and-a-half-pound crustacean instead.

"They slipped right on, just like Cinderella," Bright said of the tiny pink shoes he and Costello slipped on Barbie.

Costello disagreed, saying it was a challenge to put the high heels on the little lobster legs. There are four legs on each side so the men attached them to the center two.

"You try squeezing Barbie shoes on a lobster," he said. "That was the most time-consuming thing."

Barbie hasn't been seen since early December and apparently was unkempt and nearly naked, with just her pretty pink high heels still hanging on.

If she and the shoes survive until spring, she may be home free for another season, Costello said. "We have our spring fashions all ready to go," he said.

Laine Welch has been covering news of Alaska's seafood industry since 1988. She lives in Kodiak.