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AK Beat: Kenai River dipnetting ends at midnight

Alaska Dispatch
Thousands of Alaskans flocked to the mouth of the Kenai River this month to dipnet for red salmon Loren Holmes photo

Kenai dipnetting to close at midnight: Personal use salmon fishermen -- who sweep large nets on the end of poles through the waters near the mouth of the Kenai River, 156 road miles south of Anchorage -- will need to pick up a rod and reel if they want to catch any more salmon there this year. The dipnet fishery is closing at 12:00:01 a.m. Thursday. State Sen. Bill Wielechowski had asked the Department of Fish and Game to extend the season another week -- citing numerous late-arriving fish -- but biologists said today that they plan to close the fishery as previously planned.

Cruise ship sexual assault: Alaska State Troopers say a sexual assault occurred aboard a cruise ship traveling from Seattle, Wash., to Alaska’s capital of Juneau. Troopers’ investigation revealed that two crew members of an unnamed cruise ship sexually assaulted a female crew member during the early morning hours on Monday. Juneau-based troopers are investigating the assault, which was reported just a week after a U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee report found crime on cruises are “profoundly” under-reported, prompting a vow of changes from industry leaders, NBC News reported. Of the 959 incidents reported to the FBI by cruise companies since 2011, only 31 of the alleged crimes have been disclosed publicly on a website maintained by the Coast Guard, according to the report. The owners of cruise ships are only required to report certain types of incidents, such as homicides, kidnappings and suspicious deaths -- and companies have reported 130 such incidents over the past two years. Crimes no longer under investigation are disclosed on the Coast Guard site, however.

Alaska musicians gaining national attention: Online music-and-entertainment publication Paste Magazine released a list Wednesday highlighting nine of Alaska's most up and coming bands. Among the magazine's favorites was the Anchorage group Historian, the Fairbanks quintet Feeding Frenzy and singer-songwriter Marian Call. The roundup was part of the Magazine's ongoing 50 States Project series looking at a handful of standout bands from all around the United States.

Scotty Gomez to begin 'livin la vida loca': Anchorage’s Scott Gomez has landed a one-year deal with the NHL’s Florida Panthers, according to the team. The deal is reportedly worth $900,000. Gomez, 33, is entering his 14th year in the league, and heads to Miami after playing last season for the San Jose Sharks. Gomez is first among active U.S.-born players in career assists (530) and points (701), and is second in games played (941). He won two Stanley Cups with the New Jersey Devils, and was named the league’s rookie of the year in 2000. When he arrives in Florida, Gomez will see at least one familiar face -- Anchorage’s Joey Crabb signed with the Panthers during the off-season.

Still profitable, BP takes a hit: Oil giant BP announced second quarter earnings of $2.7 billion on Tuesday, a decline of $1.5 billion from first-quarter profits of $4.2 billion. Though that's still big money, the company's stock took a dip on the lower-than-expected report, and as BP ticked up its estimates on what a settlement relating to the disastrous 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could cost the company, from $7.8 billion to $9.6 billion. The New York Times reported that BP's stock prices were down more than 3 percent in London in the wake of the earnings call.

Dog gets face full of bear spray: The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports (via The Associated Press) that a dog got a face-full of pepper spray intended to deter bears on Saturday. According to Alaska State Troopers, a man went for a hike from a trailhead along the Seward Highway on Saturday evening, but returned to find his window smashed, some of his belongings stolen, and the bear spray that he had in his vehicle used on the dog being kept inside. The dog seemed to have recovered. Troopers don't know who broke into the vehicle.

Another bear scare at Rover's Run: The notorious Rover's Run Trail in Far North Bicentennial Park has long been known for its use by bears, and KTUU reports that on Tuesday, the alert level was increased after a group of cyclists reported that a bear charged them around 10:30 a.m. In 2010, "bearsteria" at the trail reached a fever pitch with a widely-circulated picture of a mother bear and her three cubs wandering single file down the trail, which is heavily wooded and frequented by off-road cyclists. It runs near a salmon-spawning stream, hence the bear's affinity for the path. The Anchorage Park Foundation requested $500,000 to re-route the trail further from the prime wildlife corridor.