News: December 15, 2011

Workshop Report Now Available

Season's Greetings and Many Thanks

Independent Review of the 2010 Bi-Op

Sick Seals Seen in the Arctic and Bering Sea

IQSAK – K-12 science curriculum for the Chugach region by Hanna Eklund, Researcher, CRRC

Workshop Report Available - How do Tribes and Alaska Native Co management Organizations Participate in the Federal and State Process for Regulation of Fish, Wildlife, and Marine Mammals

In February, TASSC hosted a one-day workshop entitled "How do Tribes and Alaska Native Co-Management Organizations Participate in the Federal and State Process for Regulation of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Mammals: What is Working, What is Not, and Recommendations for Moving Forward."

The Workshop was well attended with a mix of representatives from Tribal Governments, federal and state agencies, ANOs, and interested individuals. Participants heard presentations from NPFMC, USFWS, NMFS, ADF&G, U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, Chugach Regional Resources Commission, Trustees for Alaska, Alaska Sea Grant, John Sky Starkey, Joseph Spaeder and Larry Merculieff.

After the presentations and associated discussion, participants divided into five groups to discuss the presentations, and their experiences with tribal consultation and co-management. Each group took note of the recommendations individuals voiced, made modifications and passed them all forward to the entire group when they reconvened.
There were a wide range of recommendations, including, but not limited to:

• There should be equal representation of Alaska Natives on all board and organizations that make decision about fish and wildlife management
• Agencies should not assume that there is not stewardship and that management of resources is not in place before an agency arrives in a village. Sometimes people do not want to talk about the practices that have traditionally been in place.
• There should be a tribal organization that facilitates tribal consultation with the agencies throughout the state and there should be spokespeople appointed by the tribes to make sure that tribal positions taken with consultation are heard.
• There should be an opportunity for tribal leaders statewide to gather to discuss consultation and other issues. After the tribal leaders meeting, the agencies should be called in to hear the tribal leaders recommendations and discuss them. Agencies should not develop recommendations on tribal consultation and other tribal issues without this kind of process.
• Each region, tribe or group may have their own approach to co-management. The agencies should remain flexible in their approach.
• Agency enforcement officers should be involved in co-management discussions and at the table for issues related to enforcement. This will lead to better understanding and cooperation and lift the bad rap enforcement sometimes encounters.
• Enforcement should be included in co-management agreements. Agencies seem to be unwilling to give up any enforcement authority. There should be a pilot project with a willing and capable tribe for enforcement.
• Alaska Native Regions are dealing with many issues involving the ocean environment and marine mammals. There should, therefore, be regional funding through compacting for multi-species co-management of the region's oceans, lands, rivers and fish and wildlife resources. The regions can then determine for themselves the priority needs for the funding. This will give the regions more of an equal standing with the agencies because they will not be dependent on the agencies for funding and setting priorities.
• Co-management agreements should be addressed and re-authorized independent of any cooperative agreement or funding mechanism. If the funding is discontinued, the responsibility to co-manage with tribes or ANO should remain in place.
• It will take traditional knowledge as well as western science to make sure the resources are sustained. Proper blending of the traditional way of knowing with western science can be reached with good communication between the tribes and agencies.
• There was a quote for the youth from Dr. Sobeloff - "Take care of the Elder you are going to become."

For a full list of the recommendations or for more information, please refer to the workshop report, available electronically from our office at 1-800-474-4362 (AK) or 907-286-2377, or via email at

Along with the workshop report, a CD ROM was produced that included all materials and presentations given at the meeting, an electronic copy of the workshop report and additional relevant materials. Copies have been sent to workshop participants and we will be sending copies to federal and state agencies involved with fish and game management. We would like to sincerely thank John Sky Starkey who worked to organize the workshop, all the presenters and everyone who participated.

Season's Greetings & Many Thanks

The Alaska Sea Otter and Steller Sea Lion Commission would like to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and extend our best wishes for the quickly coming new year!

We have been fortunate to work with amazing people throughout the years. We would like to recognize and thank all the people that we have worked with, including our biosamplers, small boat surveyors, carcass surveyors, local knowledge specialists, local coordinators, and our federal partners from the Department of Interior and Department of Commerce. We would like to thank our current and former Commissioners and staff. We would like to especially thank Sam Fortier, Jerry Reichlin and the entire law firm of Fortier and Mikko, P.C. for all of your support. We sincerely thank you.

May your 2012 be filled with joy and happiness!

Independent Review of the 2010 Bi-Op

In April, the State of Alaska and the State of Washington agreed to work together and obtain an independent review of the recent Biological Opinion on the impact of groundfish fisheries in the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska on Steller sea lions. A four person panel was put together, first with the selection of 2 co-chairs, who then selected the other 2 team members. Their charge was to review a number of questions and its jeopardy finding that the fisheries, as described, is "likely to adversely modify the designated critical habitat for the western DPS of the Steller sea lions."

The draft report was available in July and the final prepublication report was posted in October on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation webpage. In the report, they grouped their findings into four main categories:
"• the finding of jeopardy of extinction or of adverse modification of habitat (collectively JAM) for groundfish fisheries in the western and central Aleutian Islands;
• the effectiveness of reasonable and prudent alternatives (RPAs) to the federal action under consultation;
• the requirement under the Environmental Policy Act that RPAs in the BiOp be the least-cost choice from all efficacious RPAs; and
• consideration of pubic and peer comment in the writing of the BiOp."

Public hearings were held in Anchorage on June 2, and in Seattle on August 22. At the August hearing, Dr. Doug DeMaster, the Science and Research Director of the Alaska Fishery Science Center, presented on NMFS's review of the draft report. Information on the review, copies of presentations given at the hearing, and the pre-publication final report can be found on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation webpage, as well as downloaded from our website.

FINAL REPORT:  An Independent, Scientific Review of the Biological Opinion (2010) of the Fisheries Management Plan for the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Management Plan

Introductory Overview presented by Dr. David Bernard, Panel Co-Chair

NMFS Review of the Draft Report, presented by Dr. Doug DeMaster, Science and Research Director, Alaska Region



Sick Seals Seen in the Arctic and Bering Sea

Local residents in the Arctic, along the North Slope and along the Bering Sea have been finding sick live and dead seals on their beaches. Over 100 sick or dead & diseased seals have been reported. It seems to be mainly affecting ringed seals, however similar symptoms have been found in some walrus and bearded or spotted seals. Sick seals and walrus have also been found Russia, and sick seals have been found in Canada.

These sick animals have had blisters/lesions on the face or flippers, patchy hair loss and may have hair that is easy to pluck off. They may also be lethargic and have trouble breathing.

No known cases have been observed in harbor seals, and no known cases have been reported from the Bristol Bay area, Aleutians, or the Gulf of Alaska.

If you come across a dead stranded or sick seal (or any marine mammal) it is very important to report it. NMFS is seeking sick seal carcasses so that they can be necropsied to find out what is making these animals so sick.

Please photograph any sick seals that you may encounter and contact NMFS immediately, who may ask that it be shipped COD to Anchorage or Barrow for necropsy.

This outbreak is being investigated by a large group of organizations and agencies. Despite numerous tests being run, no definite cause of the outbreak has yet been found. Focus has been on infectious disease. Initial findings are negative for common viral pathogens (poxvirus, herpesvirus, papillomavirus, morbillivirus, calicivirus). Work is underway to investigate fungal and bacterial sources, plus plans to test for other sources, such as harmful algal bloom biotoxins, chemical contaminants and radionuclides (NMFS November 22, 2011).

If you harvest or find a seal that is sick, please take precautions, including:
• Wearing Gloves
• Washing your hands after handling
• Washing equipment with bleach
• It is not generally recommended to eat seals, walrus or other marine mammals that are/appear sick. If you do, please cook it thoroughly first.

For more information or to report a sick seal:
• Barrow/North Slope: North Slope Borough DWM: 852-0350 (day) or 878-1793 or 878-1886 (evenings/wknds)
• Nome: Eskimo Walrus Commission: 1-877-277-4392
• Nome: Gay Sheffield: 1-800-478-2202 (day) or 443-2397 (evenings/wknds -UAF-Marine Advisory Program
• Alaska: NMFS Stranding Line: 1-877-925-7773 (good for all seals, sea lions, whales too, and seals found in other parts of Alaska than listed above).

More information can be found on the following website:

Source: NMFS, 22 November 2011. 2011 Arctic Seal Disease Outbreak: Update on Investigation and Findings.



IQSAK – K-12 science curriculum for the Chugach region by Hanna Eklund, Researcher, CRRC

The Chugach Regional Resources Commission is entering the third year of its groundbreaking project "IQSAK K-12 Science Curriculum Project" funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The purpose of this project is to develop a K-12 curriculum for the Chugach region that reflects Alaska Native beliefs, values and understandings of the natural world and science education standards. Chugach Regional Resources Commission believes that a culturally-based natural resource science curriculum would enhance Alaska Native Students' education and motivation to pursue post-secondary degrees and careers in the sciences and natural resource management. The project name, Iqsak, means a fish hook or a halibut hook in Sugcestun language.

In development, we have recently sent the curriculum lesson plans to be piloted by the schools of the Chugach region, and the piloting will continue this fall. A program web site has been set up online, and the curriculum and lesson plans will soon be available there. We are also developing a curriculum DVD that will be sent to the schools at the end of the project. Both the website and DVD are done with the help of Darin Yates of Web Mountain Media. You can visit our website at

Project staff has been collecting, translating and transcribing Sugcestun interviews from the region. These interviews will be an important addition to the lesson plan support materials, and will be added to the website document library during the next project year. The project staff has done extensive research on regional educational materials that can be used in the curriculum, and permissions to use these materials are currently being gathered.

There will be five final curriculum units: 1) Oceans and Rivers; 2) Beaches and Tidal Zones; 3) The Earth, Forests and Trees; 4) Weather, Wind and Air; and 5) Physical Science Principles in Everyday Life. There are altogether eight lesson plans in the curriculum. The lesson plan topics were chosen with the help of the Chugach communities and elders. The lesson plans focus on fresh water, herring, beach foods, tides, population cycles, forest resources, weather, climate change, sound, force, NYO's and more.

One lesson plan we have, focuses on weather. In this lesson, students will investigate weather systems that affect the Chugach region. Students will learn what activities are affected by the weather in the communities, and examine some of the ways that the Chugach tribes predict the weather and find out what the weathermen are. Students are also introduced to the Sugcestun words related to the topic.

Both Alaska and National Science Education Standards are met in our lesson plans, and the "Five E's" approach is used in the lesson plan procedures, where the E's stand for: engage, explore, explain, elaborate, and evaluate. The 5 E's allows students and teachers to experience common activities, to use and build on prior knowledge and experience, to construct meaning, and to continually assess their understanding of a concept. In the lesson plan materials for the educators, we have collected lists of related literature and curriculum, video or audio about the topic from the region, interviews with Alutiiq elders, and links to the communities, related projects and materials. Staff made great effort to make these materials available electronically, but are somewhat limited by permissions granted to use some materials.

For more information contact project staff by email or phone 907.562.6647. You can also visit our project blog at for news and updates.


Here's an example of an interview for the weather lesson plan:

"Yeah, he'd be the leader, sometime he wouldn't be the chief, but you'd be the leader of your party or a big party, see? A chief would be the leader of the village. The leader, like for instance Tatitlek, or Nuchek, or whatever it is, he'd be a leader of the whole…all the people. But when we're out, usually when they go hunting, like sea otter or something then…they went in say sometimes ten bidarkies…five bidarkies go out, see? Well, you have to pick a leader right away, see? And then they get in the smokehouse, and he says, "Well, now we'll have to pick the leader for this outfit, say ten bidarkies," and that's who you follow, and then pret' near everybody knows who is gonna be the leader by…just you live in the village long time, and you can tell the difference between people, and you got your leader picked pret' near all the time. So that's who you appoint for a leader, and you follow him. He's also the weather man. He's taking care of that whole fleet, see? When they come ashore, make camp and stay there. When they go out, and stay out in the ocean for a day or two, or two…three days, whatever he says it's not gonna blow. You follow him."

John Klashnikoff, 1979







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