Cook Inlet Navigator December 2017 


Regional Citizens Advisory Council  


CIRCAC Executive Director Mike Munger with Prince William Sound RCAC Executive Director Donna Schantz at Science Night.
On Nov. 30-Dec. 1, the CIRCAC Board of Directors met in Anchorage with a full agenda, including updates on Phase 1 of the Cook Inlet Pipeline Infrastructure Risk Assessment, Harvest Alaska's Cross-Inlet Pipeline Project, BlueCrest Energy operations, CIRCAC's tanker self-arrest study, Andeavor's simulator training, and Alaska's Dispersant Use Guidelines. We also had the pleasure of joining Prince William Sound RCAC for Science Night and their Volunteer Appreciation Dinner. It was a full two-days and we felt good about the progress we've made this year to promote safe transportation and oil facility operations in Cook Inlet.

With so many big initiatives, it has been another dynamic year for us.The Cook Inlet Pipeline Infrastructure Assessment is making demonstrable progress and we are fully committed to seeing it through to completion. CIRCAC has allocated additional funding toward the project through our PROPS Committee and we are continuing to explore other funding opportunities to complete the assessment.

We have long been in support of a Cross Inlet Pipeline and decommissioning of the Drift River Oil Terminal to reduce the risks posed by tanker traffic and Mt. Redoubt. We are closely monitoring Hilcorp/Harvest Alaska's progress in transitioning to this safer mode of oil transportation.

We have seen an influx of tourism organizations eager to join CIRCAC as a result of our decision to expand tourism representation on the Council. New members are making us a stronger organization and we look forward to welcoming more in the coming year.

The Cook Inlet Harbor Safety Committee (CIHSC) continues to evolve into a viable functioning organization. At the October meeting in Nikiski, the Committee approved the Harbor Safety Plan, provided an update on vessel traffic in Cook Inlet and finalized the Cook Inlet Winter Ice Guidelines. The U.S. Coast Guard is planning on shifting the ice guidelines to the CIHSC while retaining signatory authority. This organization has provided another avenue for CIRCAC to have a voice in navigational safety and maritime practices in Cook Inlet, and we are proud to be one of the driving forces behind its creation.

As to be expected, we continue to make great strides with environmental monitoring, scientific research and comments on various issues. We are compiling twenty years of contaminant and oceanographic data to integrate in online data portals and visualization tools. Our multi-year partnership project continues to assess nearshore habitats in western lower Cook Inlet. We've provided recommendations and background information on avoidance areas within the proposed Preauthorization Area of the Dispersants Use Plan for Alaska.

We are working to have a final report to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in 2018 which analyzes data for Alaska Peninsula ShoreZone aerial and shore station surveys, have completed a "gap analysis" of our shore station database and are working to fill those gaps. In addition, we are revising the on-line data portal with NOAA and will work with the Alaska Ocean Observing System to serve shore station data within the Cook Inlet Response Tool.

During the winter/spring 2017 natural gas pipeline leak in the upper Inlet, we provided background data and sampling recommendations, as well as participated in overflights and reviewed industry and agency data reports.

Our work has elicited interest in the RCAC citizen participation model from both Washington State and the City of Vancouver, BC, among other regions, and we are a source of useful information to help facilitate those efforts.

So we have initiated a myriad of projects and continue to move forward. A lot of work remains to be done. Going into 2018, we recognize the importance of remaining vigilant to potential changes to legislation, regulations and initiatives affecting our organization and our region of responsibility and concern. We look forward to having the best information, developing the best tools, and doing the best work we can for the citizens whom we represent.

In November, CIRCAC had the pleasure of showing off our work, goals and progress at the Pacific Marine Expo, the largest venue we've participated in this year. With participants from throughout Alaska, the West Coast, throughout the United States and International, the event is one of the most significant focused on fishers and their issues. Not surprisingly, many of these issues dealt with Alaska.

This year there were more than 550 exhibitors and thousands of visitors to meet and engage; particularly Alaskans.   
Among those joining us in the "Alaska Room" were Prince William Sound RCAC, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, Marine Exchange of Alaska, Cordova Ports and Harbors, Bering Sea Crabbers Association, State of Alaska officials, NGOs and federal agencies.  
Over the three-day event, we were well represented by our Executive Director, Director of Science and Research, and ComFish representative on the Board, Paul Shadura; as well as our Director of Public Outreach.  
Clockwise from top: Venue at Seattle Sealink Center, Executive Director Mike Munger (left) and Alaska Statesman Clem Tillion at our Booth; announcing Fisherman of the Year; and Fisherman of the Year Bruce Schactler (and ASMI Food Aid Program Director) with CIRCAC's ComFish representative Paul Shadura.

CIRCAC Board of Directors (left to right from back row: Walt Sonen (Seldovia), Executive Director Mike Munger, Paul Shadura (ComFish); second row: John Williams, President (City of Kenai), Gary Fandrei (Aquaculture Associations), Bob Flint (Recreation Groups); third row: Robert Peterkin II, Vice President (Tourism Groups), Deric Marcorelle (Environmental Groups), Molly McCammon (Municipality of Anchorage); front row: Rob Lindsey (City of Kodiak) and Carla Stanley (City of Homer). Not pictured: Grace Merkes (Kenai Peninsula Borough) and Michael Opheim (Alaska Native Groups).

Cook Inlet Regional
Citizens Advisory Council