Research commission to meet in Unalaska
What are your thoughts on the future of this region? Are the fisheries well managed? Is enough being done to protect the endangered Steller sea lion? What about offshore oil development? Does the oil rig Kulluk represent a bright economic future, or the second coming of the Exxon Valdez?
The U.S. Arctic Research Commission wants to hear from local residents next week in Unalaska, in addition to the state representatives and senators flown into town as guests of the city government. And the city government invites everybody in town to a reception and plenty of free food at the Margaret Bay Caf? at the Grand Aleutian Hotel Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The reception provides an opportunity for talking with policy makers on an informal level.
The federal panel's meetings start Monday morning at the Grand Aleutian Hotel, and all sessions are open to the public, according to commission deputy director Cheryl Rosa. All commission members are presidential appointees. The commission's chair is former Alaska lieutenant governor Fran Ulmer.
Tuesday is the big day for public input, with talks by various authorities from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m, on topics including fisheries and oil spill prevention. Local presenters include marine salvage specialist Dan Magone, Tom Enlow of Unisea discussing the role of the onshore industrial fish processing sector, Dustan Dickerson of the Unalaska Native Fisherman's Association representing small boat fishermen, Mary Schwenzfier of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game discussing fisheries observers, and city natural resources lobbyist Frank Kelty explaining his weekly public radio fisheries newscast.
Public discussion on developing an implementation plan for a national Arctic strategy starts at 2:30 p.m. with a representative of the White House Office of Science and Technology.
Later in the week, a similarly-named state panel holds a meeting, the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission, co-chaired by two state legislators, Rep. Bob Herron, D-Bethel, and Sen. Lesil McGuire, R, Anchorage. Rosa said the two panels have very different purposes, that the federal group's mission is to identify future research projects, the state panel's job is to develop a policy.
However, Rosa said, members of the two groups will attend each other's meetings.
On Wednesday, the policy commission starting at 1 p.m. will hear from representatives of the U.S. Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Alaska Marine Pilots, Ounalashka Corporation, The Aleut Corporation, Qawalangin Tribe of Unalaska, International Maritime Organization, Aleut International Association, plus an opportunity for public testimony.
On Thursday, the policy commission holds a work session starting at 8 a.m., for an update on work towards developing an Arctic policy. The commission goes to lunch at noon in the Shishaldin Room, sponsored by the state and city. At 1 p.m., work resumes, and ends at 3 p.m.
Members of the both commissions and legislators will tour the community, including processing plants, fishing boats, and harbor facilities.
The annual legislative fly-in starts Monday and goes through Thursday. Participants include representatives Alan Austerman, Bob Herron, Bryce Edgmon, Mark Neuman and Chris Tuck; Senators Mike Dunleavy, John Coghill, Lyman Hoffman, and Cathy Giessel, and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Larry Hartig.