State and local briefly

Posted: Sunday, April 16, 2000

Commercial pot shrimp season reopens

JUNEAU - The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced Friday the Southeast Alaska commercial pot shrimp fishing season will reopen by emergency order on May 15 in five districts.

The five are District 4, 5, 11, 14 and 15. The guideline harvest level for each district is 20,000 whole pounds. The approximate whole pounds remaining to harvest is 20,000 in Districts 4, 5, 11 and 14, and 9,600 in District 15. The districts will be closed by emergency order when the guideline harvest levels are reached.

Districts in which the harvest levels are not reached will close on July 31. All other districts will remain closed until Oct. 1.

Individuals planning to fish pots for shrimp between May 15 and July 31 need to re-register for the fishery since the 1999/2000 registration year for shrimp ended April 14. Pot tags used for the 1999/2000 registration year will remain valid through at least April 14, 2001.

For details, call 465-4250 in Juneau; 747-6688 in Sitka; and 225-5195 in Ketchikan.

Grass fire scorches Mendenhall Valley

JUNEAU - Spread by breezes, a brush and grass fire consumed about five acres Friday afternoon off Del Rae Road in the Mendenhall Valley.

The fire came close to the old Lutheran Church and pastor's residence, said Fire Chief Max Mielke.

The alarm was called in about 12:40 p.m. Friday, Mielke said. Residents deployed a garden hose to fight the flames, but found the hose was frozen.

``When we arrived on scene, there were two to two-and-a-half acres burning,'' Mielke said. ``But it spread and burned to within 50 feet of the church (now a day care center).''

The blaze eventually extended into old-growth timber with flames shooting 150 feet in the air. Residents patronizing the post office about half a mile away reported ashes were falling there. It took 25 firefighters an hour to bring it under control, Mielke said.

Salmon openings announced

JUNEAU - The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has announced openings for commercial spring fisheries for experimental and terminal hatchery trolling.

The Chatham Strait and Point Sophia trolling areas will be open Monday through Friday. The Frederick Sound area will open Monday through Wednesday. The Hidden Falls area will open Monday for the remainder of the season.

Fishing maps can be found online at

Experimental areas will be opened by emergency order, typically two days per week, usually Monday and Tuesday. Some areas may be open longer based on hatchery contributions historically and in season.

Experimental openings are tentatively planned the week of May 1 for Homeshore, Kingsmill Point, Little Port Walter, Middle Island, Point Baker, Salisbury Sound, Snow Pass, South Passage, Sumner Strait and Tebenkof Bay. May 15 openings are tentative for Easter Channel, Mountain Point, Ship Island Shore, Baht Harbor, Steamer Point, Ernest Sound and Babbler Point. For May 22, the targeted areas are Gravina Island, Point Alava Shore, West Rock and Lisianski Inlet.

Inner Silver Bay will open May 1 and remain open until June 29, or until the guideline limit of non-Alaska hatchery fish is harvested.

Ward Cove settles salmon dumping case

JUNEAU - Ward Cove Packing Co. of Seattle settled Wednesday in court on 19 charges it had dumped salmon in Icy Strait in 1999.

The charges were consolidated into one, and Ward Cove pleaded no contest. The packing company agreed to pay a penalty of $10,000 and restitution of $50,000 within 10 days of the hearing for its wasting of nearly 3.2 million pounds of fish last July.

The $60,000 ``basically goes straight back to the Legislature and the general fund,'' said Assistant Attorney General Eric Aarseth. Aarseth is the fish and game prosecutor with the state Department of Law in Anchorage.

The money is not earmarked for the Department of Fish and Game, for fisheries research or for fisheries law enforcement, Aarseth said.

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