Fish Radio
Kodiak protests Navy war games in GOA, an on the water perspective
June 2, 2015

 This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Kodiak turns out to protest Navy war games. I’ll tell you more after this—

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 Carrying signs saying ‘No War on Fish’ and ‘Our Livelihood is Not a Game,’ about 50 fishing and sport boats, kayakers – even JetSkis- joined peaceful demonstrators in Kodiak on Saturday to peacefully protest Alaska’s largest military exercise set to kick off June 15th on land and sea in the Gulf of Alaska.  

 “We’re here to raise awareness for not only Kodiak but all Alaskans and everyone Outside. We are very concerned about the Northern Edge exercises that are going to take place starting June 15 and the resources that are at risk out here are too valuable to take a chance at losing. This fish resource and marine resources and the mammals and the sea life are all tied to the culture of the people who live here.”

 Tom Lance is natural resources director for the Sun’aq tribe of Kodiak. No one opposes the military, he says, –it’s the bad timing and closeness to shore that has people upset.  

 “At least take it after salmon season when the major runs are and take it offshore – go out 200 miles. Don’t do this next to our fishing grounds.”

 The two-week Navy war games encompass an area from about 24 miles off the Kenai Peninsula to 140 miles out.   Live weapons will be used in and above the water, said Captain Anastasia Wasem, Director of Public Affairs for Alaskan Command. She could not reveal specifics, but said weapons will include exploding projectiles, small arms, machine guns and naval gun shells. Three Navy destroyers will be on, a along with submarine and five Alaska fishing vessels under contract for support. No independent observers will be allowed.

The exercises are scheduled when weather is best for training, and impacts to marine mammals and salmon, have been considered. “We would not be doing this exercise if we thought it was going to harm the environment,” Wasem told the Cordova Times, where a similar protest was held last week.

 Kodiak residents are not appeased.

 “To protect the fish and to ask the Navy to move 200 miles offshore to protect the fish. They are so important to the livelihood of Kodiak.”

 “I’ve subsistence fish my whole life and I want to protect that. commercial fishing, sport fishing it affects it all.”

 Kodiak’s larger fishing vessels tied up in a long line on the water and blew their horns in protest. That was followed by remarks by longtime fisherman Paddy O’Donnell.

 “What we were told last year and what is happening this year are two different things. They’ve encroached well into the fishing grounds, not too far off of Marmot and not too far off of Chiniak and it is up to all of us to stand together and protest this issue. Thank you all for showing up. We are an island and it is critical that we all stand together and fight for the survival of this island.”

Sun’aq tribal members hope to meet with the Department of Defense about finding a different underwater location for the training.

 “No war on fish”.

 Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods, serving Alaska’s fishing communities since 1910. On the web at – In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch. On the web at – In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.