Two U.S. Navy admirals and other personnel visited the Kodiak City Council last night at its regular meeting. They gave a presentation on the navy exercise, Northern Edge which was held earlier this year in the Gulf of Alaska. The training mission lasted 12 days. It involved over 6,000 people, two battleships, one navy supply vessel, a coastguard ship, and five fishing boats, which played the part of the navy’s adversary.
During citizen comments, many spoke about their fears that the exercise has negative effects on the environment and the fishing industry. Tom Lance, the Natural Resource Director for the Sun’aq Tribe, thinks the navy needs to give more attention to what locals have to say.
“The navy needs to work more with tribes and the rest of us in Kodiak because fish and marine resources are the foundation that holds this community up.”
This year’s Northern Edge was held in May, which didn’t go over well said Admiral John Korka. He says that’s because that time of year is important to Alaska’s fishing industry. In the future, Korka wants to work with communities more to figure out when would be best to conduct Northern Edge.
“I don’t think we’re ever going to pick the perfect date. Based on everything I’ve heard. But we need to make sure we pick the proper date and be sensitive to the needs of the fishery community.”
The navy did a lot to mitigate its impact on the environment during the training mission according to Alex Stone, the operation’s environmental program manager. He said their efforts included ships not firing live rounds and the minimal use of sonar, which can affect the behavior of some marine life.
Admiral Korka said there will be another Northern Edge training mission in 2019, but the date hasn’t been set yet.