Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, Dan Sullivan has changed his mind about coming to Kodiak to participate in the Kodiak Chamber of Commerce fisheries debate. That word from his campaign staff this morning.
Spokesman Mike Anderson said his candidate will attend and is looking forward to the debate, scheduled for October 1st. He said that Sullivan recognizes the importance of Alaska’s fisheries, and that the campaign has rescheduled a swing through Southwest Alaska to ensure that he could make the Kodiak debate.
Anderson said that Sullivan “looks forward to a healthy exchange of ideas with Mark Begich on the future of Alaska’s fisheries, and is excited to attend the debate in Kodiak.”
Since Tuesday when it was announced he was skipping the fisheries debate, Sullivan had come under almost continuous attack from his opponent, incumbent Democrat Senator Mark Begich, who described the Kodiak event as a tradition among Alaska statewide candidates.
Sullivan has been unavailable for comment this week. Today, Anderson said, he is in Marine Corps Reserve training and unavailable to speak to the change of heart.
The two-hour debate will feature candidates for the U.S. Senate in the first hour, and candidates for the U.S. House in the second. Incumbent Republican Representative Don Young and Democratic challenger Forrest Dunbar have both confirmed that they will attend. It will be broadcast on KMXT, and made available statewide through the Alaska Public Radio Network.
A spokesman for Alaska Republican hopeful Dan Sullivan has told KMXT that inevitable scheduling conflicts are behind the candidate missing the fisheries debate in Kodiak scheduled for October 1st.
Mike Anderson said that over 20 organizations have shown interest in hosting a debate, and that Sullivan is scheduled to be on a campaign swing elsewhere in rural Alaska during the Kodiak debate.
Kodiak Chamber of Commerce director Trevor Brown said that the debate is going on whether Sullivan shows up or not. It could turn into a Begich town meeting like the scheduled Alaska Native Brotherhood debate in Southeast recently that Sullivan was invited to, but skipped.
For his part, Begich told KMXT yesterday afternoon that he is coming to Kodiak on October 1st no matter what.
“Just before the primary actually, we put out a notice of all the requests that we received for debate and forums. We accepted 13 of them. He’s only done one, the one that was on the internet. And it was with the Liberty group, you know, Tea Party, libertarian, those groups that I showed up to, right? I wasn’t afraid to talk about the issues in a group that may not be as supportive, as you can imagine, some of my positions. And my understanding is he hasn’t committed to any other debates at this time. Which we have,” Begich said. “We are not afraid. This debate, as you know, is very detailed. A lot of good issues come up in it and it would be a great opportunity, but I’m going to show up anyway.”
Begich said he was surprised and disappointed upon hearing of Sullivan’s exit, saying the fisheries debate is a “must-do” for statewide candidates. Continue reading
The U.S. Senate is poised to pass a spending bill that includes more than $150 million for federal programs important to Alaska’s fishing industry and marine navigation. It includes $4 million for electronic monitors for the fishing fleet. Alaska fishermen on small boats have asked for cameras as a substitute for some of the human observers that record catch data. Sen. Lisa Murkowski told her colleagues electronic monitors will allow the mission to continue.
“But recognizing that our small fishermen just simply cannot put another body on their boat as they’re out working.”
The bill also includes $25 million for sonar mapping of coastlines, with an emphasis on the need for more data on the Bering Straits and the Arctic. It has $6 million for removing marine debris, especially debris from Japan’s 2011 tsunami that washed up on federal land. The bill funding commerce, justice and science programs passed the Senate Appropriations Committee this week. Both Alaska senators sit on that committee, and Murkowski sits on the subcommittee that drafted the bill.
The requirement that genetically-modified salmon be labeled as such cleared a significant hurdle Thursday. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed the Murkowski-Begich amendment during debate of the agriculture spending bill for FY 2015.
The FDA has been considering the approval of Aqua-Bounty’s genetically modified Atlantic salmon for a couple of years, and both of Alaska’s senators have been trying to put up roadblocks in an attempt to stave off that approval. If it does get approval, the Murkowski-Begich amendment will require it to be labeled as a genetically modified food.
“I still maintain that the FDA should not allow for genetically-engineered salmon to advance, but if they should move forward with that wrongheaded approach, at a bare minimum the consumer deserves to know that that is not a true wild salmon.”
Senator Jeff Merkly, a Democrat from Oregon, agreed with Murkowski during the agriculture bill debate in committee.
The Responsible Seafood Certification and Labeling Act introduced this fall by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski would prohibit any US federal agency from requiring the use of third party criteria or to certify seafood as sustainable. It came in response to a couple of federal agencies or contractors bypassing Alaska salmon because most of it now lacks endorsement by the Marine Stewardship Council.
Last week Senator Mark Begich said the MSC’s certification model was too subjective, and that if the federal government wants to ensure the seafood it sources is sustainable – and includes Alaska salmon – the procedure needs to change.
“So in order to solve that, you’ve got to take those NGO sustainable labels off – still keeping the goal of sustainable product, but not having some third-party group, through their own decision, what sustainability is. We determine sustainability by the standards we have set for our rebuilding of our salmon stock or whatever fish stock we may be talking about.”
Begich said that a Senate subcommittee he chairs is working on doing just that – defining sustainable in federal law. Continue reading