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Dean's monthly updates

August 2006

August seems to be the month when people visit Alaska, which is surprising as hotel rooms are more affordable in January. We had many visitors to all SFOS units during August including:

Many of these visitors had an opportunity to experience the record number of days of rain in August in Fairbanks. We received the good news on August 1 that UAF is going to ask the Alaska Legislature to increase the SFOS budget by $1,000,000 next year to support an expansion of our Fisheries degree program. This increase in our budget would provide the funds to match our $1,000,000 per year request to the Rasmuson Foundation. We submitted the latest version of our proposal to the Rasmuson Foundation on August 28 and their grants committee will consider our proposal on September 29.

On August 10, I attended the Pollock Conservative Cooperative Research Center (PCCRC) Board meeting in Juneau. Dr. Vera Alexander is co-chair of the PCCRC Board along with Mr. Jan Jacobs from American Seafoods. The PCCRC Board approved the 2007 request proposals and allocated $285,000 for 2007 awards. Proposals are due October 12. While in Juneau, Fisheries Division Director Bill Smoker and I met with University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) Chancellor John Pugh on August 11 to discuss our plans for expanding the Fisheries undergraduate program.

My only trip to Anchorage was on August 17. I attended a meeting of some of the members of the Governance Committee of the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS) with Jack Dunnigan, NOAA Assistant Administrator for NOAA’s Ocean Service (NOS) and Dave Zilkowski, director of NOAA’s Office of National Geodetic Survey and head of NOAA’s Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) team. We discussed the plan for building an ocean observing system in Alaska and the potential for NOAA’s National Data Buoy Center to expand their operations in Seward. Mr. Dunnigan visited the Kasitsna Bay Laboratory on August 16 and was accompanied by SFOS Public Information Officer Carin Bailey.

During my day in Anchorage, Marine Advisory Program (MAP) Leader Paula Cullenberg and I met with SFOS Advisory Council member Eugene Asicksik to discuss the search for the MAP agent in Nome. I had an enjoyable lunch Arliss Sturgulewski (also SFOS Advisory Council member) during which we discussed ongoing SFOS projects and our plan for bringing the National Ocean Science Bowl to Alaska in 2008. Paula Cullenberg also met with Dr. Herb Schroeder, University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) Associate Dean and Professor of Engineering and Executive Director of the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program (ANSEP). We are hoping to partner with ANSEP in recruiting more Alaska Natives into our Fisheries degree programs. After the meeting, Dr. Schroeder gave me a tour of the ANSEP building under construction on the UAA campus.

Bill Smoker and I traveled to Petersburg on August 22 where MAP faculty member Sunny Rice organized a series of meetings for us. We had dinner with Arne and Cindy Fuglvog. Arne is heading to DC in September to replace Bill Woolf as fisheries advisor to Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Julianne Curry of the Petersburg Vessels Owners’ Association also joined us for dinner. The next day, Bill, Sunny and I: met with Gerry Merrigan of Prowler Fisheries and toured the Petersburg harbor with him, met with Kris Norosz, Government Affairs representative for Icicle Seafoods, toured the Icicle plant with Plant Manger Patrick Wilson, hiked upstream in Hobo Creek with U.S. Forest Service project leader Mason (Buck) Bryant and Tongass National Forest Fish Program Technical Specialist Dick Aho to view their stream research program, and discussed our undergraduate programs with Petersburg High School Principal David Morris, Guidance Counselor Joyce Burke-Biggs and Biology Teacher Jack Eddy.

Bill Smoker and I flew to Ketchikan that evening where we spent August 24 and 25 with MAP faculty member Dolly Garza as our host. We were impressed that Dolly knew all the back roads to take to avoid the 7,000+ cruise ship passengers walking Ketchikan streets on Thursday during our visit. In Ketchikan, we met with Lisa Lang at the Ketchikan Indian Community to discuss our academic programs and internships and spent some time at the shellfish hatchery operated by Kurtis Morin of Alaska Shellfish Nursery LLC. Kurtis has started a geoduck aquaculture operation in Ketchikan.

Chancellor Steve Jones arrived around noon and we spent the afternoon discussing potential collaborations with Dr. Kate Sullivan, Director of the UAS Ketchikan Fisheries Technology program. On the morning of August 25, UAF Chancellor Jones, UAS Chancellor John Pugh, Bill, Dolly, and I attended a meeting of the Board of Directors of OceanAlaska (formerly the Tongass Coast Aquarium). The board President, Gary Frietag, was a classmate of mine at Old Dominion University and I had not seen him in 32 years. The board is interested in having SFOS and MAP involved in their plans. Later that morning Chancellors Pugh and Jones signed a “Joint Declaration” to work together to improve our Fisheries degree program.

Before we headed to the airport, we had the pleasure of spending some time visiting with world renowned Tlingit artist and wood carver Nathan P. Jackson. He was working on three totem poles in his shop and the smell of the wood was delightful. Our MAP faculty throughout Alaska make it possible for me to gain an in-depth knowledge of the people in our communities and to begin to understand the issues important to them. Thanks to Sunny and Dolly for taking the time to make this trip both special and productive.

Exhausted from this trip, I returned to Fairbanks at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday August 26 where I spent the day revising the Rasmuson Foundation proposal with the help of Sharice Walker in Fairbanks and Carin Bailey who was working from Homer. Carin and I finished work on the proposal at 10:01 p.m. and Carin submitted it electronically at 10:36 p.m. That left me less than two hours to pack and head for the airport to catch the 1:05 p.m. flight to Seattle and Denver where I began the drive back to Fairbanks with my son, Heath. We drove through South Dakota (to see the Corn Palace in Mitchell) and then were off to Canada to drive the Alaska Highway to Fairbanks. Unlike my drive in 2004 when the smoke from the fires obscured the view, we were able to enjoy the beauty of British Columbia and the Yukon before arriving in Fairbanks on September 2. It has taken me two weeks to recover and write this report.

Denis