• Kake to host three-day shellfish mariculture workshop on May 1-3

SE SWCD Shellfish Farming Brochure_draft_Page_1

The Southeast Soil and Water Conservation District (SESWCD) will host a comprehensive three-day shellfish mariculture workshop on Thursday through Saturday, May 1-3, in Kake.  (NOTE: Capital City Weekly ran an article covering this event, http://capitalcityweekly.com/stories/051414/new_1206564746.shtml).

This program will be aimed at teaching best management practices to beginning oyster farmers. The workshop curriculum will consist of lectures, labs, and hands-on field operations on working oyster farms. This workshop is open to the public and the District anticipates participation from shellfish farmers in Kake, Hoonah, and Angoon. Participants will learn from experts about nearly every aspect of oyster farming in Southeast Alaska.

The workshop also features a shellfish-oriented educational program at the Kake Community School, as well as a community presentation at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 1, at the Kake Community Hall Kitchen. Topics at the community presentation include: food security and mariculture, shellfish enhancement activities for subsistence use, indirect economic benefits of mariculture in the community, and commercial aquaculture diversity.

The District’s partners in this project are the Organized Village of Kake and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Sea Grant Marine Advisory Program. Other participating organizations include the Hoonah Indian Association, Haa Aaní LLC, Alaska Division of Economic Development (Alaska Department of Commerce, Communities and Economic Development), and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

One of the SESWCD’s strategic focus areas is mariculture development (shellfish farming). The intent is to facilitate increased mariculture development in Southeast Alaska to increase food security and support rural economies. This shellfish farming workshop will be the district’s first project in its mariculture program. The Southeast Soil and Water Conservation District is a statutorily authorized quasi-state agency that leverages public funding with private sources to help the communities of Southeast Alaska become more sustainable and self-sufficient.

To register or receive more info, contact James Marcus at 1-907-586-6878 (Juneau number) or districtmanager@seswcd.org.

• Southeast Soil and Water Conservation District Shellfish Mariculture Workshop in Kake press release (with tentative schedule on second page)

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• Sitka Seafood Festival announces new director; will host art auction on Saturday, Oct. 5

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(The following letter to the editor originally appeared on Page 2 of the Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, edition of the Daily Sitka Sentinel. It is reprinted here with the writer’s permission.)
 
ssflogo2The fifth annual Sitka Seafood Festival (SSF) is scheduled for Aug. 1-2, 2014. The festival continues to grow each year. This past year we brought in more than 100 out-of-own guests, had some national recognition from a couple of well-known culinary magazines, and continued to have more and more local support. 
 
Over the past four years, we have had a small group of volunteers working extremely hard to follow through with our mission statement, to “celebrate wild Alaskan seafood.” We have done this through education, such as bringing in amazing speakers such as a 2012 McArthur Genius Award-winner David Montgomery, and accomplished author, professor and chef Becky Selengut to offer free presentations to the public. We also started the new culinary scholarship award this past year which we hope will continue to grow to give a passionate future culinary artist more experience and funds to pursue their career further. 
 
We offer entertainment, including local and headliner bands such as the well-known band Trampled by Turtles, aerial silk dancers, Ninja acrobatics, and of course, the addition of the Scottish Highland Games and this past year the full- and half-marathon. But, even with all the other fun events going on, the focus of our festival is based around celebrating the culinary aspect of our amazing, local seafood products.  
Carolyn Kinneen

Carolyn Kinneen

I am writing this letter today to introduce you to the new director and co-directors of the Sitka Seafood Festival. I am so extremely excited with the potential of where this festival can go. If anyone gets the pleasure to meet our new directors, I think they will share in my enthusiasm, because these folks encompass what this festival is all about, and I think it can only get better from here!  The 2014 SSF Director is Carolyn Kinneen, along with co-directors Jeren Schmidt and Robert Kinneen.  All past board members, including myself, are staying active with the festival. 

Carolyn Kinneen is wife to our four-time returning guest chef Robert Kinneen, and has been active in the festival since the start. She currently lives in Anchorage, but with the help of our local co-director, Jeren Schmidt, should be a wonderful fit.  Carolyn works in many different areas of food-related advocacy and policy, and sits on multiple boards pertaining to Alaskan-based foods.  She has experience in running a large array of projects including the TEDx Anchorage lecture series, as well as the Alaska Food Policy Council

We are very excited to have Carolyn on board. If anyone would like to hear more about Carolyn, or pick her’s or any other board member’s brains about the future SSF, we will be holding an open “meet and greet” at 6 p.m. on Friday, Oct 4, at Baranof Island Brewing Company (215 Smith St.).  Come say hello and welcome Carolyn, Rob and Jeren to their new positions, and feel free to pass along any suggestions, concerns or input you may have. 

Thank you for your continued support Sitka!  Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the 5th annual SSF Aug 1-2, 2014. And please attend our upcoming fundraiser, the Live Art Auction with the Fishermen’s Eye Gallery, at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct 5, at the Westmark Sitka Hotel.

— Alicia Haseltine, past SSF Director, current board member

• Alaska Department of Health issues PSP warning for Southeast Alaska shellfish

The butter clam has one set of rings that go one direction only, around the same center point (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

The butter clam has one set of rings that go one direction only, around the same center point (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

On Friday, June 22, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services issued a paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) warning for Southeast Alaska shellfish. Please be aware that there have been several PSP blooms in recent years, and the PSP toxin has sent several people to the hospital and even resulted in a couple of deaths.

The state in general does not recommend the recreational or subsistence harvest of shellfish (in particular filter-feeding bi-valves such as clams, cockles, oysters, mussels and others) from Alaska beaches because they are not checked for the PSP toxin. Commercial shellfish is tested for PSP and safe to eat. In addition to the links in the press release below, here is a link to more information about PSP from the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), http://searhc.org/publications/featured_stories/2011_06_psp.php. Now here is the text of the release:


Scientists advise against harvesting shellfish due to large “red tide” in Southeast Alaska

State health officials remind public about risks

 

ANCHORAGE — Warm weather combined with an increasingly large algae bloom in Southeast Alaska has scientists advising extra caution to would-be recreational shellfish harvesters. Water samples taken from around Etolin Island show increasing levels of Alexandrium algae, which produces paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) in shellfish. Tests have also shown a slight increase in Alexandrium levels on the west coast of Prince of Wales Island as well as extremely high levels around Juneau.

The littleneck clam has two sets of rings that cross each other at 90 degree angles (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

The littleneck clam has two sets of rings that cross each other at 90 degree angles (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

Scientists have also identified unsafe levels of three different species of Dinophysis algae, which produces diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP), in samples from around Ketchikan. DSP can cause diarrhea, PSP can cause paralysis.

“These Alexandrium levels are similar to what we saw last year when we had such high levels of PSP toxins in shellfish,” said Kate Sullivan, with the University of Alaska Southeast and co-founder of the Alaska Harmful Algal Bloom Partnership (AHAB). “Last summer we had a number of cases, including four people who needed to be hospitalized. We want people to be extra cautious and remember that the only safe shellfish is the kind you buy at the store.”

A cockle has deep ridges similar to a Ruffles potato chip (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

A cockle has deep ridges similar to a Ruffles potato chip (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

Early signs of paralytic shellfish poisoning often include tingling of the lips and tongue. Symptoms may progress to tingling of fingers and toes, then loss of control of arms and legs, followed by difficulty breathing. Death can result in as little as two hours.

All locally harvested shellfish — including clams, mussels, oysters, geoducks and scallops — can contain paralytic shellfish poison. Crabmeat is not known to contain the PSP toxin, but crab guts can contain unsafe levels of toxin and should be discarded. There is no way to tell if a beach is safe for harvesting by looking at it. Toxins can be present in large amounts even if the water looks clear. Also, the toxin can remain in shellfish long after the algae bloom is over. PSP cannot be cooked, cleaned or frozen out of shellfish. Commercially grown shellfish is tested and considered safe.

Paralytic shellfish poisoning is considered a public health emergency. Suspected cases must be reported immediately to the Section of Epidemiology by health care providers at 907-269-8000 during work hours or 800-478-0084 after hours.

For more information on PSP go to:

http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/marine_toxins/, or

http://www.epi.alaska.gov/id/dod/psp/ParalyticShellfishPoisoningFactSheet.pdf

• Recent paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) serve as reminder to not eat certain types of locally harvested shellfish

The butter clam has one set of rings that go one direction only, around the same center point (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

The butter clam has one set of rings that go one direction only, around the same center point (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

This past week, there were four suspected cases of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP) reported in Juneau. These four cases, combined with a couple of PSP cases in the Ketchikan/Metlakatla areas this winter and record-high levels of the PSP toxin found in shellfish last summer should serve as reminders that the state discourages eating recreationally and subsistence-harvested shellfish on most beaches in Alaska.

The first three PSP cases reported to the Alaska Section on Epidemiology last week involved clams harvested over the Easter weekend near Juneau — the first case reported April 10 involved razor clams from Admiralty Island and the next two cases reported April 12 involved butter clams from either Lincoln Island or Ralston Island. On April 13, another case was reported where a person ate pink neck clams (also known as surf clams) harvested from Shelter Island.

The littleneck clam has two sets of rings that cross each other at 90 degree angles (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

The littleneck clam has two sets of rings that cross each other at 90 degree angles (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

In each case, the people who ate the clams experienced classic PSP toxin symptoms — tingling and numbness of the mouth and tongue that eventually can extend into the extremities and then the rest of the body. Once the toxin moves into the body, it can paralyze the heart and lungs, causing them to stop and leading to intensive care treatment and possibly death (PSP deaths were reported in Juneau and Haines in 2010). If people experience these symptoms, they should get to the hospital immediately because sometimes a hospital respirator can save a life.

PSP can cause severe health problems and even death, and there is no antidote. The toxin is not visible, and requires special testing to be detected. It can occur during any month of the year, and the toxin can remain in affected shellfish for as long as two years. There is no antidote to the toxin. PSP generally affects bivalves that filter food when they eat, such as clams, cockles, mussels, oysters or scallops. Crab meat does not carry the PSP toxin, but crab guts can have the toxin since crab eat bivalves.

A cockle has deep ridges similar to a Ruffles potato chip (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

A cockle has deep ridges similar to a Ruffles potato chip (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)

Southeast Alaska beaches, like most beaches in the state frequented by recreational and subsistence harvesters, are not tested by the state for the PSP toxin. The state does check commercially harvested shellfish for the toxin, but in recent months at least one commercial geoduck season was closed because of the toxin’s presence.

To learn more about PSP, here is an informational page created by the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) after last year’s extremely high levels of PSP toxin were discovered. This page features information about how PSP is formed, what types of shellfish can carry the PSP toxin, basic first aid for PSP symptoms and more.

• Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning Fact Sheet from the State of Alaska

• Sitka Seafood Festival steering committee to meet on Saturday, April 17

The next meeting of the Sitka Seafood Festival steering committee is 10 a.m. on Saturday, April 17, at Harrigan Centennial Hall.

During the April 10 meeting, the committee voted Lily Herwald in as secretary and Phyllis Hackett as bookkeeper. The committee also decided to book “NANDA: Acrobaticalist Ninja Action Heroes,” a four-man juggling, acrobatic, martial arts and comedy troupe that is performing at the Southeast Alaska State Fair on July 29-Aug. 1 in Haines, the weekend before the Sitka Seafood Festival (Aug. 6-7). A headline music group also is being booked.

Committee members will be canvassing local businesses for donations to cover the costs of hosting the inaugural Sitka Seafood Festival, and the deadline for donations is May 9 (Mother’s Day). A donation/sponsorship letter has been approved and committee members soon will distribute it to local businesses. Donations will be accepted after May 9, but that’s the deadline to be included in the event promotional materials, which uses a tier system based on the amount of the donation. Donation/sponsorship checks need to be written to the “Sitka Conservation Society” with a memo of “Sitka Seafood Festival” or “SCS/SSF” (the Sitka Conservation Society is letting us share their 501(c)(3) permit until we can get our own next year).

Also, committee members are seeking prizes for a raffle and raffle prize commitments are needed by Wednesday, April 14, to either Alicia Peavey (alaska_al33@hotmail.com or 1-928-607-4845) or Linda Olson (747-6985 or Baranof Elementary School). The raffle will feature 800 tickets at $5 each, with the drawing to take place on May 9 (Mother’s Day). Donations of merchandise, including locally caught seafood or gourmet meals of Sitka seafood, are greatly appreciated.

During the April 5 meeting, the steering committee decided to hold the inaugural Sitka Seafood Festival on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 6-7. The tentative plan is to have an opening dinner on Friday night with a guest chef and the possibility of live music. The main events will be on Saturday, with vendors set up all day, contests, a parade, cooking demos, music and educational activities. The headliner music guest will play a concert/dance on Saturday night.

To learn more about the Sitka Seafood Festival or to volunteer to help on one of the committees, e-mail sitkaseafoodfestival@gmail.com. You also can contact Alicia Peavey at alaska_al33@hotmail.com or 1-928-607-4845.

Sitka Seafood Festival minutes from the April 10, 2010, meeting

Sitka Seafood Festival committee breakdown and job tasks (updated)

Sitka Seafood Festival business donation assignments (who asks) (updated)

• Sitka Seafood Festival steering committee to meet on Saturday, April 10

Sockeye salmon hang in a smoker in preparation for the 2009 ANSWER Camp program

Sockeye salmon hang in a smoker in preparation for the 2009 ANSWER Camp program

The next meeting of the Sitka Seafood Festival steering committee is 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 10, at the Bayview Wine Bar (on the second floor of the Bayview Building on Lincoln Street).

During the April 5 meeting, the steering committee decided to hold the inaugural Sitka Seafood Festival on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 6-7. The tentative plan is to have an opening dinner on Friday night with a guest chef and the possibility of live music. The main events will be on Saturday, with vendors set up all day, contests, a parade, cooking demos, music and educational activities. The headliner music guest will play a concert/dance on Saturday night.

To learn more about the Sitka Seafood Festival or to volunteer to help on one of the committees, e-mail sitkaseafoodfestival@gmail.com. You also can contact Alicia Peavey at alaska_al33@hotmail.com or 1-928-607-4845.

Sitka Seafood Festival committee breakdown and job tasks

Final draft of Sitka Seafood Festival donation letter

Sitka Seafood Festival business donation assignments (who asks)

• Group to meet about organizing a Sitka Seafood Festival this summer

Black cod (aka sablefish) on the grill from the Alaska Longline Fisherman's Association booth at the Sitka Farmers Market

Black cod (aka sablefish) on the grill from the Alaska Longline Fisherman's Association booth at the Sitka Farmers Market

A group in Sitka will meet at 6 p.m. tonight, Wednesday, March 24, at the Sitka Economic Development Association’s conference room (second floor of the Troutte Center building on Lincoln Street, the Sitka Chamber of Commerce office above Seasons card store) to plan the inaugural Sitka Seafood Festival.

The group first met on Saturday afternoon, March 20, to brainstorm ideas for the event. The group discussed the event’s mission, name, slogan location, music, the scope of the event (just salmon or multi species, very local or grander scale, etc.), committees, funding, event partners and other organizational aspects. Suggestions from the first meeting included having local and/or regional chefs provide cooking demonstrations, honoring the life cycle of the salmon (or featured species of the year), etc. The tentative dates for the first Sitka Seafood Festival are Aug. 6-8, 2010.

If you have any questions about the Sitka Seafood Festival, contact Alicia Peavey at alaska_al33@yahoo.com. (Editor’s note: The next Sitka Seafood Festival steering committee meeting will be at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 1, at the Sitka Economic Development Association office in the Troutte Center building on Lincoln Street.)

Sitka Seafood Festival steering committee meeting notes from March 20, 2010

Sitka Seafood Festival steering committee meeting agenda, March 24, 2010

Chohla Moll grabs some sockeye salmon out of the brine mixture so she can hang it in the smoker.