A look back at 2017 in Kodiak

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Here at KMXT, we’re taking a look back at some of this year’s events in the Kodiak region.


In the first month of the year, Kodiak residents rallied for one of the biggest demonstrations it’s seen in the past few years: The Women’s March on Washington.

In January, more than 300 locals gathered in front of the high school and then walked down Mill Bay.

The women’s march began partly as a reaction to the rhetoric of this past election cycle. One of the Kodiak organizers, Breanna Peterson, said she was surprised the event got such a positive response.

“You know, we’re all marching for different reasons, and some of them are the same, some of them are different, but we’re all here, and we all showed up because we all believe that women’s rights are equal rights.”

Organizers said they aimed for a non-partisan, all-inclusive event, and some women KMXT spoke with at the time said the event had inspired them to get involved on a local level.

Meanwhile, the borough and city this year has continued to deal with the state’s fiscal gap.

Besides some careful budgeting, the City of Kodiak changed how it approaches nonprofit funding by limiting organizations to funding under one of four categories it considered vital: Youth Recreation Programs, Adult Recreation Programs, Public Safety Programs, or Emergency Response Support Programs.

Meanwhile, the Kodiak City Council and Kodiak Island Borough Assembly tried to draw in extra funds for some other financial issues – this time arising from the poor pink salmon season in 2016.

The council and assembly sent a letter to the governor’s office requesting a declaration of a fishery disaster for the Gulf of Alaska. In January 2017, the federal government granted that request, which drew widespread support from other coastal communities.

Kodiak fisheries analyst Heather McCarty said the process to get funding is a long one.

“We were told at one point by the federal lobbyist for the city and borough that sometimes people try to tack onto a really big disaster like a hurricane or something to try to get that sort of an omnibus disaster funding request through the Congress, so there might be money in your future, but I don’t know exactly what it’s going to look like.”

The Gulf of Alaska is still trying to secure that funding.

And just recently, the city and borough also drafted a letter requesting a fishery disaster for the 2017 Pacific Cod fishery in the Gulf.

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council recently decided to reduce the Gulf of Alaska cod quota by 80 percent to compensate for the a drastic decrease in cod numbers.

Communities are now preparing for the aftereffects.

In other fisheries news, Kodiak salmon fishermen geared up to respond to a perceived threat on their local fisheries.

A genetic study in 2016 found Cook Inlet sockeye in Kodiak waters, and soon after, the United Cook Inlet Drift Association requested the Board of Fisheries consider a cap on commercial sockeye in the Kodiak area.

As Nick Sagalkin, ADF & G’s regional supervisor for the Westward region, explained, Kodiak bases its management plan on run health, and the potential cap would introduce an entirely new system into the area.

“So, there’s sort of a couple of things that that concept misses is that it doesn’t take into account all the other species that we’re targeting – pink salmon, chums – and it doesn’t really even look at how we’re trying to control escapement.”

The next time the Alaska Board of Fisheries is slated to consider the issue is in 2020. The United Cook Inlet Drift Association tried and failed this year to move up the consideration in the board’s agenda.

A task force called the Salmon Work Group reassembled to tackle what some consider a claim on Kodiak salmon. The group also formed in the late 1980s, the first time the issue came up.

Also this year, Kodiak saw its first successful commercial kelp harvest.

Blue Evolution, a company from the Lower 48 that turns seaweed into pasta products, hired several Alaskans to outplant seaweed and grow it in local waters.

In May, fisherman Nick Mangini went out on his boat and hacked away at the seaweed that’d grown thick across the line buried in the waters of Trident Basin.

Blue Evolution successfully processed that batch and went onto outplant more kelp in the last couple of months.

Also, the Arts Council brought a couple of different acts to the Kodiak stage this year. In October, people filled the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium for a performance by Postmodern Jukebox, a collective that reinterprets modern music.

In the next year, the Arts Council is also bringing Socks in the Fry Pan to town to perform Irish traditional music. And Kodiak locals will perform Disney’s Mary Poppins in March.

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