Fish Radio

Navy asked to move war games from May to September

September 8, 2016

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – A request to the US Navy. Move training from the start of salmon season to the fall.  More after this —

US Navy war games set for May 2017 Credit: US Navy

US Navy war games set for May 2017
Credit: US Navy

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The US Navy’s plans to again hold summer war games in the central Gulf of Alaska is concerning to coastal towns and fishermen.  The training area covers  60 thousand square miles – larger than the state of Georgia –  24 nautical miles off the tip of the Kenai Peninsula, south of Prince William Sound  and east of Kodiak Island. The Homer City Council last month unanimously passed a resolution asking for changes to the Navy’s plans.

“These trainings are aimed at maintaining military readiness. Everything used in the exercises is actually the same weapons that are used in war. So these are real bombs, real missiles, torpedoes, heavy deck guns and then of course, the active sonar.”  

Emily Stolarcyk is program manager for the Eyak Preservation Council of Cordova.

“We certainly can’t understate the need for national security, but we could go about it in a more sensitive way -. Sensitive to the people that live here, the communities, our industries, and the  wildlife as well.”  

The Homer resolution requests that the Navy change its training exercises from May until mid-September to avoid impacts to migrating fish and marine mammals. Bob Shavelson is director of Cook Inletkeeper.

“These are migration corridors for our salmon and our halibut and our whales. And we could reduce those impacts considerably if we change it to later in the year and push it further from the coast”.

Last June more than 50 Kodiak fishing and sports boats staged a peaceful waterfront protest of the war games location. No one opposes the Navy, said Tom Lance, natural resources director for the Sun’aq tribe. 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”.

But May’s longer days and calmer seas allow for more training, says Navy rep Alex Stone.

“We get more value for our investment if we can plan the exercise when it has a greater probability of better weather, better conditions for flying and for training. “

 No independent observers are allowed to monitor the two week training exercises.  The Homer City Council has asked US Senators Murkowski and Sullivan and Representative Don Young  to support its resolution.

Thanks to the assist from KBBI/Homer.

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.