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Inside Alaska industry.

FISHING

There are almost as many acronyms in Alaska's fishing industry these days as there are fish in the sea. In recent months, IFQ and CDQ systems have been created as a management tool, along with the familiar ABC, TAC and PSC limits for species managed by the NPFMC, ably assisted by the NMFS.

Behind the acronyms are fundamental changes in the way harvesting of groundfish and crab will be allocated in those fisheries managed by the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (NPFMC). The council has taken steps to ensure that the public and the seafood industry understand the changes by publishing a series of attractive, simply-written reports that walk the reader through the new procedures.

For the uninitiated, the individual fishing quota (IFQ) program allocates annual quotas to individual vessel owners or vessel leaseholders based on past landings and history in the sablefish and halibut fisheries. After initial allocation of quota shares, fishermen can buy or sell shares, with some restrictions designed to prevent consolidation of ownership and to maintain a small boat fleet. The system will affect about 5,000 vessel owners and is expected to begin in 1994.

The U.S. secretary of commerce has approved the allocation of 35 percent of Bering Sea pollock to onshore processing plants in Alaska for 1993, 1994 and 1995. The amount is somewhat less than the recommendation of the North Pacific Management Council. This move paves the way for implementation of the Community Development Quota (CDQ) system that will allocate harvest quotas for pollock to western Alaska communities. Regulations setting criteria for harvest quotas are now in place; implementation of the CDQ system was set for late 1992.

Other new regulations passed by NPFMC for 1993 include a moratorium on entry of new vessels into Alaska's free-for-all ground-fish, crab and halibut fisheries. Regulations are being drafted for this measure, which will probably be implemented by mid-1993. The council also overhauled the domestic fishery observer program to increase its effectiveness and took a closer look at programs designed to decrease waste and to prevent catch of incidental species. For a copy of NPFMC's newsletter, True North, that deal with these issues, call (907) 271-2809.

More fishing industry morsels

* The University of Alaska Fairbanks has awarded its first doctoral degree in fisheries. Bob Marshall, a student at the University of Alaska Southeast, successfully defended his graduate thesis on southeast Alaska salmon before a group of professors and fisheries scientists in October. Eight other students are enrolled in the 2-year-old program. In all, 97 graduate students are pursuing degrees in fisheries, limnology (the study of lakes and their ecology) and oceanography at the University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. Since 1980, more than 75 percent of the graduate students from the school have secured jobs in their fields.

* The Klawock Cooperative Association has been awarded a $1 million grant to renovate a cannery on Prince of Wales Island. The Economic Development Administration grant will provide funds for two stationary cranes, an ice machine and dock repair.

TOURISM

* Imagine the gapes of Fairbanks airport employees last summer when a chartered Lufthansa 747 landed in the Interior city and spewed 15 -- count 'em -- 15 Limited Edition Mercedes all-terrain vehicles, manned by more than 40 members of the Mercedes Club of Germany.

The "Gelandewegans" left the airport and embarked on a four-week, 4,000-mile driving tour of Alaska and northwestern Canada. In late August, the travelers and their vehicles returned to Fairbanks and flew home to Germany.

* Off-season travelers to Chena Hot Springs Resort this winter will find that renovations are nearly complete. In addition to a new "aurora warming shelter" where guests can warm up for outside sky-viewing, the resort contains a new pool house and an outdoor pool -- a feature much requested by guests, according to manager Frank Rose.

* Princess Tours has changed the name of its Denali National Park hotel to Denali Princess Lodge. Formerly called Harper Lodge, the facility hosts about 36,000 guests during the park's four-month season.

* North Pole, Alaska, received a "Triple A Travel Treasure" rating by Home and Away, the official membership magazine of 1.8 million AAA-member households in the Midwest. North Pole earned the auto club magazine award for its role in generating Christmas spirit each year.

* Plans are moving forward for construction of a new $75 million ocean-going ferry for the Alaska Marine Highway System. Scheduled for delivery in 1996, the vessel will be the first ocean-class passenger/vessel ship built in the United States in the past 30 years and the first new construction for the ferry system since 1977.

GOVERNMENT

The business community is always filled with talk about government interference -- but government involvement helps drive the private sector. In a recent development with positive potential, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA) is expanding its outreach to rural Alaska. The state-owned public corporation will work closely with other state agencies to make the new Rural Economic Development Initiative Fund responsive to rural entrepreneurs not currently served by commercial financial institutions.

A working group will draft regulations and a plan for providing loan guarantees to rural areas. It is estimated that $500,000 in initial capitalization for the fund can leverage about $2.5 million in financing for rural businesses, with AIDEA acting as a guarantor of private sector financing.

More news from the government grab bag

* Alaska had the highest annual burden of state/local taxes in the nation in 1990, according to the Commerce Clearing House of Chicago. Alaska topped the list with $4,069 per capita, compared to $3,806 for Washington, D.C., and $3,267 for New York, which ranked second and third respectively. The average American paid $2,017 in state and local levies in 1990, the most recent year for which data is available. That's an increase of $129 over 1989.

* In light of declining defense spending, the Small Business Administration is taking steps to ensure that small manufacturers and suppliers continue receiving a fair share of federal procurement dollars in the civilian sector. Steps include computer networking of bid opportunities and adapting existing programs to new economic trends.

TRANSPORTATION

Hoping to boost business for Alaskan port facilities by opening polar shipping routes, Alaska Department of Commerce and Economic Development commissioner Paul Fuhs recently outlined a possible scenario to marine transport experts at a meeting in Tromso, Norway:

"Containers from Asia and the West Coast of North America would be marshaled in Dutch Harbor and transferred to icebreakers for transport to Europe. Containerized cargo from Europe would be offloaded in Dutch Harbor, and then transferred to vessels heading east or west to their ultimate markets.

"It is estimated that the time savings from the U.S. and Canadian West Coast to Europe, via polar routes, is up to 10 days. It is estimated that the time saving from Asia to Europe is up to 20 days."

Closer to home, the port cities of Akutan, Cold Bay, False Pass, King Cove and Sand Point have announced a cooperative international marketing program. The effort will be launched with the participation at the Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle, where representatives will describe their facilities and services to potential customers.

All of the ports are located in the Aleutians East Borough and aim to serve the booming fisheries of the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska.

Borough officials are hoping to lure additional fishing vessels to home port in the area and to attract additional marine support businesses. While the ports are relatively close and share similarities, there are important distinctions that make the cooperative marketing effort feasible, says borough administrator Bob Jeuttner.

"Each port is different and has its own market niche," he notes.

For example, King Cove, with its own fleet and longtime cannery operation, serves one part of the market, while False Pass is better positioned to service transient floating processors. Cold Bay offers important facilities for making air connections for Bering Sea/North Pacific fish harvests.

More Transportation Trends

* Progress continues on two wide-body aircraft hangars for Anchorage International Airport. Both will be owned by the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA), to take advantage of tax-exempt financing secured by the state-owned corporation. Construction will begin this year on a $45 million maintenance/cargo hangar for Alaska Airlines, with completion slated for 1995. Construction is under way on a $25 million maintenance hangar for Federal Express, to be completed in 1994.

Bonds sold to finance the hangar projects will be paid off through user fees, and both facilities will be available to other carriers on an as-needed basis.

* Asiana Airlines has commenced twice-weekly Seoul/New York passenger service, which includes an Anchorage tech stop on the westbound leg. Founded in 1988, Korean-owned Asiana began trans-Pacific service last year.

* The Alaska Air Carriers Association safety committee has undertaken several projects to reduce the number of aircraft accidents in the state and to better track accident statistics. The association believes current federal figures overstate Alaska's aviation safety problem, possibly resulting in inflated insurance premiums for carriers.

* At Fairbanks International Airport, every major operation statistic for fiscal year 1992 increased over those for fiscal year 1991. Passenger traffic increased 10 percent, freight rose 13 percent, and revenue and fuel flow each increased 12 percent.

* $2 million in federal funds has been approved for further reinforcement of the Bethel sea wall.

* $3 million in federal funds has been approved to clear the channel entrance to St. George harbor in the Pribilof Islands.

MINING

A two-year effort to overhaul the Federal Mining Law ended late last year with only minor changes made to the law at the end of the congressional session. The industry expects a new initiative when the new Congress convenes.

"We are very fortunate that more changes did not occur," says Alaska Miners Association executive director Steve Borell. "The basic principles of the law, i.e., self initiation and secure land tenure, did not change."

While opposing forces gather wits and wind for the next round of debate, less dramatic industry developments warrant recognition:

* Amax Gold Inc. of Golden, Colo., has decided to donate part of its prize money from a recent environmental award to the University of Alaska School of Mining. Amax Gold, owner of the Fort Knox mine in Fairbanks, received the $50,000 Du Pont/Conoco Environmental Leadership Award for 1992. Amax was one of five companies competing for the prize.

"We are presenting these funds to educational facilities who have been vital in providing top quality individuals and research to the mining industry," says Timothy Haddon, president and CEO of Amax Gold.

* Silverado Mines Ltd. says it's closer to identifying the lode source for placer gold on its Nolan gold project 180 miles north of Fairbanks. Results from its 1992 mining and drilling work showed positive results, according to company president G.L. Anselmo.

TIMBER

There's been a changing of the forest guard. Don Finney, five-year executive director of the Alaska Forest Association and a 41-year veteran of Alaska logging, has retired. Larry Blasing, also an industry veteran of long standing and assistant to Finney for the last two years, assumes the reins of AFA.

Finney says he's glad he had a chance to work in the woods when it was a physical, enjoyable challenge. His parting shot: "Today's over-regulation and extreme environmentalism have taken the fun out of |the timber industry~."

Blasing's opening round: "Alaska does not seem to go very long without a major crisis that requires our complete attention. The Tongass Timber Reform Act was the last, and it is likely that we may be facing another. We anticipate that a large part of legislative effort will be involved in working to achieve a balance between the need for regulatory reform and the cost of doing business."

Further forest dispatches:

* Alaska's interior forests continue to ring and roar with new harvest activities, says forester Chris Maisch of Tanana Chiefs Conference. State and Native forest lands are providing logs for local manufacture as well as for international export. Logging continued last year on lands owned by Toghottle Corp. of Nenana and on Tetlin Native Corp.'s lands near Tok.

Maisch says that in addition to harvests, state and Native lands in the Interior have recently been reseeded.

* The Northwest Policy Center has received funding from the Pacific Forestry Centre in Canada and the Pacific North West Economic Region to evaluate value-added manufacturing policies and programs in the public and private sector. The goals of the project are to: improve understanding of current value-added efforts; evaluate the impact of existing value-added policies and programs; identify steps to increase value-added manufacturing in the region; and facilitate cross-border cooperation on value-added issues.

The Alaska Division of Forestry has released its Forest Health Management plan for the western Kenai Peninsula and Kalgin Island. The plan, a strategy for dealing with spruce bark beetle hordes and other long-term forestry needs, is based on two premises: Spruce bark beetles cannot be eradicated over extensive areas by any known method; and management and control of spruce beetles is practical and desirable for limited acreages of high-value forest.

OIL AND GAS

While Alaska's oilfield support withers, some are taking advantage of new international opportunities. Alaska Cargo Transport Inc. of Seattle recently teamed up with Petrosakh, an American-Russian joint venture headquartered in Dallas, to deliver 21,000 tons of American oilfield equipment to Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East.

Pushing the latest possible weather windows in November, the tugs Marine Explorer and Alaskan Victory completed the 3,500 mile ocean voyage in time to deliver the equipment, offloaded by Russian and American crews at night in a successful "Alaska-style tug and barge beach landing."

According to Alaska Cargo Transport's Rusty Devereaux, the operation was completed on time and on budget with no damage and no injuries. All cargoes arrived as shipped, thanks in part to the marshaling, loading and lashing expertise of NorthStar Stevedoring of Anchorage.

Future sailings are anticipated, says Devereaux. Petrosakh has been awarded a 600,000-acre concession for developing oil and gas reserves and related infrastructure on the island.

Despite the recent and ongoing changes in the workforce and focus at Prudhoe Bay, there are other bright spots in the oil and gas sector:

* The Petro Star Valdez refinery, nearing completion at year's end, is slated to process 30,000 barrels per day of North Slope crude into marine, jet and heating fuel for commercial, private and military markets. The plant will create 25 new, permanent full-time jobs.

The refinery is a joint venture of three firms: Petro Star Inc. (owner of a small refinery in Fairbanks), Alaska Refining Inc. (owned by Neil Bergt) and Harbor Enterprises dba Petro Marine Service (owned by Dale and Carol Ann Lindsey).

* Recent oil and gas leasing activity on state lands includes announcement of changes in sale #75/Kuparuk Uplands and a call for comments on proposed sale #83/western Beaufort Sea, due by April 30, 1993. The Beaufort sale encompasses 190,000 acres of state tideland and submerged lands. The state has also announced a notice of intent to reoffer sale of #70-A Kuparuk Uplands.
COPYRIGHT 1993 Alaska Business Publishing Company, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Alaska Business Monthly
Article Type:Industry Overview
Date:Jan 1, 1993
Words:2533
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