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Alaska Beat

AK Beat: Alaska politicians call for ban on Russian seafood

  • Author: Alaska News
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published August 26, 2014

Alaskans call for ban on Russian seafood: The Alaska congressional delegation is calling for a U.S. ban on imports of Russian seafood as a global food fight that started with the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to grow. French farmers are facing a $144 million loss in diary exports, The New York Times reported on Monday, and Alaska fishing businesses could encounter losses of more than $60 million. The Alaskans called on the Obama administration to ask the Russians to lift their seafood import ban, but to be ready to impose a U.S. ban. "We do not make this request lightly,'' they wrote President Obama, "but in light of the direct impact on our constituent's interests we believe is necessary for the U.S. to respond quickly and emphatically. It was the Russian government that decided to use food, in addition to energy resources, as economic weapons, and inaction should not be an option.'' The request has a reach outside of Alaska. The delegation noted a ban is backed by major Alaska fish processors, most of whom are based in Seattle.

The ripple affects from the dispute could cause further problems. Norway sells more than $1 billion worth of fish to Russia each year, according to the Wall Street Journal. With those sales blocked, Norwegian fish are expected to shift into other markets, including those where Norwegian farmed salmon compete with Alaska wild salmon. Norwegian officials announced last week they were taking steps to help their fishermen. "With these measures, we're giving the industry time to find new customers," Fisheries Minister Elisabeth Aspaker said in the statement reported on Bloomberg News.

The odd beauty of Kiska's abandoned World War II relics: Kiska Island is remote even by Alaska standards. Part of the Rat Island group in the western Aleutians, has no inhabitants and getting there involves a circuitous trip using various modes of irregular transportation. But for those who can get there (and receive the necessary permit to land) the island is home to a remarkable collection of artifacts from World War II, when it was occupied by Japanese soldiers, then retaken by U.S. forces. Brendan Coyle, who is working on a forthcoming book (from the University of Alaska Press) about the island's history managed to make the trip (as an assistant to a biologist conducting research there), and shared some of his remarkable photos, including a sunken and listing Japanese transport vessel and slowly rusting artillery, with Slate.

Checking in on Amchitka: A magnitude 7.9 earthquake in June probably didn't release any radioactive material buried at a nuclear test site in the Aleutians. Still, U.S. Department of Energy officials are visiting, just to be sure, reports Unalaska public radio station KUCB (via APRN). An official said the DOE officials weren't slated to visit Amchitka, the site of tests that continued into the 1970s, for another two years, but the large earthquake, which was about 25 miles north of the island (and some 70 miles deep) prompted them to move their timeframe up a bit.

Colorado battles over taxes on legal marijuana: Among the arguments made by advocates for legalizing recreational marijuana is that moving sales of the drug from the black market would let such transactions be taxed, helping to offset any ill social effects. In fact, the title of Alaska's ballot measure on the question includes taxes right in the title: "An Act to tax and regulate the production, sale, and use of marijuana." But not all advocates are happy about the taxes, and some in Colorado, where recreational use of the drug became legal earlier this year, are fighting against the pot tax in court, reports the Denver Post, saying it forces business owners and their customers to provide self-incriminating evidence for an activity that remains a federal crime. "These taxes are a gift-wrapped open-and-shut federal prosecution," an attorney representing the activists fighting the tax said. A judge denied a preliminary injunction which would've stopped the tax collection immediately, but the lawsuit -- and the larger constitutional questions it raises -- will continue, the Post reported.

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