Alaska Digest

Posted: Thursday, September 18, 2003

Two fishermen charged with false reporting

ANCHORAGE - Two commercial fishermen from Washington state are accused of falsely reporting to the federal government the amount of halibut caught on the 185-foot factory trawler Unimak, the U.S. attorney's office said Wednesday.

Paul Ison, 50, and Dan Skauge, 54, were indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury here.

The Unimak conducts commercial fishing operations off the Alaska coast and is limited by international treaty to the number of Pacific halibut that can be caught while taking groundfish such as sole.

The treaty between the United States and Canada limits incidental halibut catch from groundfish fisheries to protect halibut stocks. An observer from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is, by law, to be present at all times on a trawler boat the size of the Unimak working a groundfish fishery. The observer samples the catch and reports to NOAA the number and type of fish caught.

Ison, the Unimak's captain, and Skauge, the co-captain, are accused of directing the boat's crew to hide from the NOAA observer the number of halibut caught.

This was accomplished, the U.S. attorney's office said, by presorting the halibut from the vessel's catch before the observer could conduct the sampling.

The indictment alleges that during the 1999 and 2000 groundfish seasons, it was common practice for the vessel's crew to presort the halibut.

Alaska gets $310,000 in conservation grants

ANCHORAGE - With only two weeks left in the federal fiscal year, the U.S. Department of Interior on Tuesday announced the award of millions of dollars in conservation grants, including nearly $310,000 for five Alaska projects.

The cooperative conservation grants are matched by local partners for the projects.

All told, the federal government awarded $12.9 million in grants for fiscal 2003, Interior Secretary Gale Norton said during a teleconference from Washington, D.C.

For the Jim's Landing riverbank restoration project at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, the federal government contributed $133,000. The Kenai River Sportfishing Association in Soldotna added $128,000 and the Alaska Flyfishers, $5,000.

"It was a good project. Jim's Landing was saved," said Jim Hall, deputy manager at the refuge, noting that the work had been completed.

The project included restoring the eroded riverbank at the landing, which is a popular spot for rafters, and improving salmon habitat by placing cut-and-cabled trees in the river to slow the water and provide hiding and feeding places for juvenile fish.

The federal government also provided $24,200 for loon habitat restoration at the Kenai refuge.

A grant of $110,000 was made for restoration of tidewater glacial fjord habitat at Kenai Fjords National Park, money that brought a $240,000 "match" from several groups, including the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward, which put up $200,000.

A $10,000 grant was approved for community and river cleanup at Anaktuvuk Pass at the Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve.

A $32,500 grant was made available for salmon restoration at Denali National Park and Preserve, with another $142,000 coming from project partners, including $92,000 from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

UAF prof accused of having drug enterprise

FAIRBANKS - The attorney for a University of Alaska Fairbanks faculty member accused state prosecutors of grandstanding in portraying his client as running a statewide drug conspiracy.

Prosecutors on Tuesday said Bob Logan, a UAF economics associate professor, undertook a "statewide commercial drug enterprise" that led to charges of selling marijuana to undercover investigators in both Fairbanks and Barrow.

Logan is a tenured faculty member and a former Fairbanks North Star Borough assemblyman.

He was formally charged Tuesday with five counts of felony misconduct involving a controlled substance.

Logan faces charges that he sold 6 1/2 ounces of marijuana Monday at a restaurant parking lot.

An undercover trooper paid $2,000 for marijuana taken out of a cooler in Logan's vehicle, according to charging documents.

Oregon man sentenced in brother's murder

UNALASKA - Grigori Zuboff was sentenced to 40 years in prison for killing his brother two years ago while the two were on a fishing boat.

Superior Court Judge Sharon Gleason said she was swayed by the man's statement of remorse and by letters from his mother and other relatives forgiving him.

Prosecutor Jay Fayette had recommended Zuboff be sentenced to 70 years in prison.

Grigori, who was 16 at the time of the crime, fatally shot his 20-year-old brother, Elisei, while the two were aboard a fishing boat in September 2001.

A jury convicted Zuboff in April of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and tampering with evidence after deliberating for four days.

His attorney had argued Elisei had beaten Grigori earlier that day, continuing a long pattern of abuse.

NTSB: Skwentna plane crashed on landing

JUNEAU - A small plane that crashed near Skwentna this week, injuring three, struck a river bank while landing, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a report.

The Cessna 182 was approaching a private landing strip on the bank of the Yentna River on Monday when the crash occurred, the NTSB said.

Pilot Ronnie Sayer, 62, and his son Troy Sayer, 35, were treated for injuries at Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage and released.

Troy Sayer's 3-year-old son, Austin, suffered serious injuries, according to the NTSB. Austin was listed in stable condition at the hospital on Wednesday, a hospital spokesman said.

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