Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council
Celebrating 25 years in the Inlet
8195 Kenai Spur Hwy., Kenai, AK 99611
(907) 283-7222; 800-652-7222 (toll free); 907-283-6102 (fax)
Cook Inlet Navigator
February 2015 
In This Issue
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Our Mission is to represent the citizens of Cook Inlet in promoting environmentally safe marine transportation and oil facility operations in Cook Inlet.
 Looking back                    As part of our "Looking Back" series reflecting on 25 years in Cook Inlet, this month we highlight our history with risk assessments.

The Cook Inlet Navigational Risk Assessment was not the first risk assessment Cook Inlet RCAC (CIRCAC) tackled. In 2001, CIRCAC initiated a pipeline risk assessment process to address a series of pipeline related spills that occurred in the Inlet at that time. In January 2002, CIRCAC, in conjunction with the Alaska Oil and Gas Association, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation and other regulatory agencies, hosted a forum to address our questions about pipeline conditions. By winter of 2002, CIRCAC succeeded in negotiating an agreement with Cook Inlet subsea oil pipeline operators to voluntarily provide pipeline status reports on a biannual basis, which include the operational status of the lines, repairs made, and future activities--a practice that continues to this day.

Photo by: Alaska ShoreZone
ShoreZone: a CIRCAC pilot project success story
 As evidenced in the recent Alaska Dispatch story, "Getting up close and personal with Alaska's coastline," the Alaska ShoreZone project is succeeding beyond our expectations when we conducted a Cook Inlet pilot project in 2001. Based on shorezone mapping protocols that were used in British Columbia and Washington State in the 1990s, CIRCAC's goal was to expand the tool in ways that would enhance oil spill planning and response efforts. The biggest difference was that in our pilot project, we integrated the high resolution shoreline imagery with the coastal habitat data in an on-line map-based portal available to the public and in a way that could be immediately accessed for an emergency response situation, such as an oil spill. Fourteen years ago, this was a relatively new concept, but it was the ease of accessing and visualizing the data that immediately drew interested potential users, including state and federal agencies. Fast forward to 2015, ShoreZone Alaska has grown to include dozens of partners and is now under the capable direction of  NOAA Fisheries in Alaska. Through NOAA's leadership and willingness to coordinate, administer, and serve the data and imagery from many different surveys, the ShoreZone Alaska partnership has successfully imaged and mapped more than 75 percent of Alaska's coastline. CIRCAC continued efforts to improve access to information for oil spill planning and response by collaborating with the Alaska Ocean Observing System (AOOS) to take the next step in integrating ShoreZone habitat and imagery with other coastal data. The result is the Cook Inlet Response Tool, or CIRT, an online application that combines a ShoreZone imagery and video viewer with GIS spatial data from many sources, including real time weather and ocean observations and model nowcast/forecasts for winds, waves, and ocean circulation. CIRT was a pilot project that demonstrated visualization tools and data portal capabilities which led to the development of numerous other AOOS data portals throughout Alaska. These can be accessed at www.aoos.org.

CIRCAC co-sponsoring/participating in Kachemak Bay Science Conference
According to conference organizers, the Kachemak Bay Science Conference is a forum for presenting scientific and traditional ecological knowledge relevant to Kachemak Bay and its surrounding coasts and waters in order to foster an informed and engaged community of environmental researchers, educators, and decision-makers. The goal of this year's conference is to provide new information and syntheses to the broad community interested in working on related issues. The conference theme is "Science to Management," and the conference agenda can be found here.

CIRCAC is a conference co-sponsor. Director of Science and Research, Sue Saupe, will be presenting the results of our Cook Inlet beluga whale winter habitat and prey study at the conference.  She is also participating as Session Chair for the Environmental Threats and Remediation session and as panelist discussing the successes and challenges in implementing the Conservation Action Plan of the Kenai Peninsula Fish Habitat Partnership. Ms. Saupe will also be working with the Alaska Ocean Observing System to provide training on the use of the Cook Inlet Response Tool. In addition to providing training, a major goal of the workshop is to gather feedback from resource managers for improving and expanding CIRT and identifying additional data layers that should be incorporated into the tool.

CIRCAC certifies new stakeholder group
The Alaska Salmon Alliance (ASA), a fisheries trade organization representing Kenai Peninsula seafood processors and commercial fishermen,  has joined CIRCAC as a certified commercial fishing stakeholder group. ASA was formed in 2011 to preserve the long term economic opportunities and benefits of Cook Inlet's salmon stocks. Click on the logo at left to learn more about our newest member group.

Lynda Giguere
Director of Public Outreach
Cook Inlet Regional Citizens Advisory Council
(907) 398-6205
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Coming up
 March 4-7 - Kachemak Bay Science Conference, Homer
April 17 -  CIRCAC Board & Annual Meeting, Kenai