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State news roundup for Monday, Nov. 4, 2013

Posted: November 3, 2013 - 1:06am  |  Updated: November 4, 2013 - 1:00am

Dutch Harbor: Pollock powerhouse

U.S. commercial fisherman brought in 9.6 billion pounds of fish and shellfish, about $5.1 billion worth, in 2012, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The average over the last ten years is 9.2 billion pound valued at about $4.1 billion.

Dutch Harbor led the nation with the highest amount of fish landed, mostly walleye pollock, for the 16th year in a row. The southwestern Alaska port landed 752 million pounds, up from 706 million pounds in 2011.

 

Legislation would create commission to study issues facing Native children

The Commission on Native American Children would be created by legislation that Sen. Lisa Murkowski is co-sponsoring with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. The commission would be tasked with studying issues that Native children are disproportionately affected by, such as high rates of poverty and unemployment, child abuse, domestic violence, crime substance abuse and fewer economic opportunities.

Murkowski said she was inspired by a group of youth from Tanana that spoke out against violence, sexual abuse, suicide and drugs at the Elders and Youth conference and the Alaska Federation of Natives convention last week in Fairbanks.

“Their call for us to take a pledge to protect our communities against suicide is a call to action for all of us. I am proud to co-sponsor the Alyce Spotted Bear and Walter Soboleff Commission with Sen. Heitkamp,” Murkowski said in a statement. “We must ensure our federal government upholds the trust responsibility and this Commission will examine from the lens of justice, education, and healthcare how to improve the lives of our Nation’s native children. We can and must do better for our Native youth.”

Thirty-seven percent of Native children in the United State live in poverty and the suicide rate for those aged 15 - 24 years is 2.5 times the national average.

 

Begich won’t allow shenanigans to get in the way of veterans’ services

Sen. Mark Begich is supporting legislation that would guarantee advance funding for all Department of Veterans Affairs programs.

“There is simply no excuse for letting political shenanigans get in the way of delivering critical services to our veterans,” Begich said in a statement. “As a member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I want to ensure we follow through on our commitment to those who have served our country.”

Veterans’ services were among many that were scaled back or put on hold during the recent government shutdown.

 

Grant to help Sitka students prepare for real-world jobs

The University of Alaska Southeast Sitka campus has been awarded $2.5 million to expand its Fisheries Technology degree program.

“This grant will allow us to prepare students for employment in Alaska’s fisheries, seafood, and maritime industries. Industry-based internships that will feature competency-based assessments that have been developed in partnerships with employers and industry partners will provide ‘work-ready’ applicants to fill existing and anticipated job openings with qualified Alaskans,” Sitka Campus Director Jeff Johnston said.

The grant will be used over four years and will allow students in coastal communities to complete their coursework without leaving home.

 

Murkowski, Young: No Beringia National Park

Sen. Murkowski and Rep. Don Young are saying ‘no’ to a proposed international park in the Bering Strait region of Alaska and the Russian Far East. The proposed park — referred to as Transboundary Area of Shared Beringian Heritage — would link the proposed Beringia National Park in east Russia, with the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve and Cape Krusenstern National Monument on Alaska’s Seward Peninsula.

Murkowksi and Young say in a statement that they’re concerned that the proposed park will not bring any direct benefit to Alaska Native communities in the region and that the proposed project doesn’t provide adequate protection of subsistence activities and possibly puts restrictions on mineral and economic development activities.

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