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Fisherman: Waterway closures for spaceport disrupt fishing

December 21, 2018

KODIAK, Alaska (AP) — The closures of waterways during launches at the spaceport on Kodiak Island are disrupting commercial fishing operations, fishermen claim.

Fishermen voiced their concerns at a meeting Wednesday of the Kodiak Fisheries Workgroup, seeking for officials to rein in the closures related to the Pacific Spaceport Complex, the Kodiak Daily Mirror reported .

The Alaska Aerospace Corporation temporarily shuts down public road access to the Narrow Cape area and nearby waterways when launches are planned. Some closures in the past have lasted for days as the corporation waits for optimal launch conditions.

“Obviously the economic effect of closing those areas is pretty huge on not only the trawl fleet but also possibly the salmon fleet,” said Jake Everich, the owner of a fishing vessel.

As the corporation plans to host more launches at the spaceport, the closures could become a much larger issue, Everich said. He requested for workgroup officials to do what they can to ensure minimal impact to fishermen.

“If one of those launches was to happen during the Tanner crab fishery, which is essentially a derby style fishery, that could wipe out two or three days or even the entire season,” Everich said.

The corporation anticipates the space industry to keep growing, eventually leading to 24 commercial launches and up to two government launches each year at the Alaska spaceport. The spaceport expects to host three to six launches next year, said Mark Lester, the corporation’s president.

The closure areas are calculated based on factors that include the type of vehicle being launched and its trajectory, Lester said. The corporation has started examining ways to minimize closures, and they plan to consult with more fishermen, he said.

“That’s a gap in our knowledge right now, and we’ll work to find out about all these seasons,” he said. “Once we know all of these sensitivities, we’ll do our best to work around them.”

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Information from: Kodiak (Alaska) Daily Mirror, http://www.kodiakdailymirror.com

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