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Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference

Newsletter - July 2021

Our newsletter this month is full of information on several relevant and important issues that will impact our region in the future. Summer is in full swing and our fisheries seem to be rebounding with strong market prices and stocks (in most cases) across the board. This is certainly helpful, but many are still waiting for Gulf of Alaska Cod and Chignik Pink Salmon fisheries disaster relief funds from 2018, and for CARES Act Fisheries Assistance grants currently being reviewed by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.

On the fisheries disaster relief funds, PSMFC has submitted the grant application form to NOAA and once they get approval, the application will be made public and the submittal process will begin. Applications for either disaster funding will not be available until then, and there is no timeline available for this process. Getting answers from PSMFC has been very difficult as they are also busy with processing CARES Act Fisheries Assistance grant applications. 

PSMFC will not be making CARES Act grant payments until they have reviewed all submitted applications, and they will only contact applicants if they have a question regarding the eligibility of your application or financial claim. If you are waiting to hear from them about your application, please keep checking your email spam folder in case they are trying to reach you. SWAMC continues to monitor their progress and stay engaged, and we will keep you as up to date as possible through our newsletters and our Facebook page. 

July marks the beginning of our new fiscal year, and that means it is time for our annual Membership Drive. Please read our FY22 Membership Letter to understand how much member support means to SWAMC and the benefits of being a member. You can renew or sign up as a new member online from our Membership Page. Thank you for your support!


Take care,

Shirley and Laura

Mariculture Outreach & Education in Unalaska

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Julie Decker and Tamsen Peeples check out kelp on their boat tour on the F/V Miss Alyssa.

This past week, Julie Decker of Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation, Tomi Marsh of OceansAlaska, and Tamsen Peeples of Koru and Kelp traveled to Unalaska to provide outreach and education on opportunities for new mariculture businesses in Southwest Alaska. After getting turned around for fog on the first flight, the Mariculture Team arrived the following afternoon. The Mariculture Team was first given a tour by the F/V Miss Alyssa of the nearby kelp beds to assess the diversity of local species. Species identified included brown seaweeds (dragon, bull, ribbon, three-ribbed, and split kelps) and a red seaweed (Pyropia). The next day, two public presentations and an open house were held at the Burma Road Chapel, with several well-informed locals who attended. Those who came had a great interest in mariculture, leading to excellent conversations about sites and farm design for growing seaweed, potential products, markets and buyers, and possibilities for growth in the Unalaska area. 

Mariculture has recently been a bright spot of growth in Alaska’s economy. New farms are producing seaweed and shellfish from Ketchikan to Kodiak, and interest is growing in parts of Southwest Alaska, with one lease approved in Sand Point and one application pending in Adak. The Alaska Fisheries Development Foundation (AFDF), the Aleutian Pribilof Island Community Development Association (APICDA), and SWAMC are partnering to bring mariculture opportunities to communities and individuals interested in Southwest Alaska. Education, outreach, and technical assistance are being provided by mariculture specialist, Tamsen Peeples. Tamsen can help with site analysis, business plans, and applications to the State of Alaska for an aquatic farm. Assistance will be provided through 2021 on a first-come, first-served basis, and it is highly recommended to contact Tamsen prior to September 30 in order to secure this technical assistance. This project is funded by a USDA Rural Development Business Grant.  

For more information, contact Tamsen Peeples at tamsen.peeples@gmail.com or Riley Smith of AFDF at rsmith@afdf.org, or visit: www.afdf.org

Copies of materials are available at the Unalaska CVB office.

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30 by 30

The State of Alaska has responded with recommendations to the new 30 by 30 Plan from the Biden Administration which calls for the conservation of 30% of the Nation’s land and waters by 2030. The State's full response can be found HERE. This is a very important issue for all of Alaska and we need to stay informed and engaged.

“With the passage of ANILCA, Alaska not only met, but exceeded, the intent of the 30 by 30 goal over 40 years ago. Currently, 145 million acres, or nearly 40% of Alaska, is designated for conservation. We do not need additional set asides in Alaska.” 


Humpback Whale Critical Habitat

NMFS has announced their final rule on the Proposed Critical Habitat for ESA-Listed Humpback Whales. The State of Alaska has responded in appreciation to the reduction in overall area, however remains disappointed that NMFS did not adopt some specific recommendations made by ADF&G. SWAMC weighed in on this issue last year with Membership Resolution FY20-05. It is unclear what the impacts of this new rule will be on Kodiak, Eastern Aleutians, and the Bering Sea fisheries and communities, but we are staying engaged. 

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This is a reminder that we are working on a project to develop an Economic Recovery & Resiliency Plan to help Southwest Alaska rebound from the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. McKinley Research Group has been hired to help SWAMC develop this Plan, and the first step in this process is a region-wide survey. The information you share is vital to help us learn how our region was impacted by the pandemic – what worked, what didn’t, and what our communities might do differently to strengthen the region's ability to respond to future economic disruptions.

Your participation is critical to the success of this work. This short survey only takes about 10 minutes to complete and at the end of it you will have the option to enter into a drawing to win a $50 Visa gift card. Please make your voice heard and share this link with your friends, family members, and co-workers as well. To those who have already completed the survey - Thank You!

Take the Survey

Have an announcement or story to share with the region?

Let us know! We may be able to include it in our next newsletter.

Call (907) 562-7380 or email lvaught@swamc.org.


  • Shirley Marquardt, Executive Director
  • Laura Vaught, Economic Development Specialist
  • Brooks Duncan, AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer

SWAMC Board of Directors

  • Paul Gronholdt - President
  • Terry Haines - Vice President
  • Mary Swain - Treasurer
  • Layton Lockett
  • Julie Kavanaugh
  • Myra Olsen
  • Dennis Robinson
  • Mayor Alice Ruby
  • Darren Muller
  • Joe Sullivan
  • Glen Gardner, Jr.

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