Canceled harvest leaves crab lovers in a pinch
U.S. BRIEFS | Alaska fishing regulators say snow crab population is precariously depleted
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Fishermen in the Bering Sea will not haul in baskets full of snow crabs this year. The Alaska Board of Fisheries and North Pacific Fishery Management Council canceled the snow crab harvest for the first time ever after the animals’ population plummeted. In 2018, researchers estimated 8 billion snow crabs lived in the state’s frigid waters. In 2021, their numbers shrank to 1 billion. Snow crab is not the only crustacean caught in Alaska, but it’s the most abundant. State officials blame the collapse on overfishing that prevents the crabs from being naturally replaced. But a lab director for NOAA Fisheries pointed to climate change as the culprit. Snow crabs prefer water temperatures below 2 degrees Celsius. Thanks to warming temperatures and melting sea ice, the Bering Sea has become less hospitable to crab colonies. Researchers estimate it could take three or four years for the population to recover. Alaska also canceled the Bristol Bay red king crab harvest this year, for the second season in a row. —Leigh Jones
Thanks to a generous benefactor, in-state students at Baptist-affiliated Mississippi College won’t have to pay tuition. Beginning with the 2023 fall semester, eligible students will pay for room and board only, and may use federal, state, and institutional grants and scholarships to lower those costs. The Speed Scholarship is named in memory of longtime college board member Leland Speed. Before his death last year, he explained his motivation for the bequest: “I had to face something. You know, you’ve been pretty blessed, Leland. What are you going to do about this? If there’s going to be a Christian future in Mississippi, Mississippi College is going to be a big part of it.” Currently, a year’s tuition at the private university costs $19,656. —Kim Henderson
The first U.S. cobalt mine in 40 years opened in October as demand for the metal has grown. It’s a key component used in electric vehicle batteries and storage, laptops, smartphones, jet engines, and the magnets used in stealth technology. The Australian-based Jervois Global expects its new underground mine to meet about a tenth of U.S. cobalt demands. In March, the Biden administration encouraged the Defense Department to reduce reliance on China and other countries for metals considered essential to national security. China processes 80 percent of the world’s cobalt after importing it from the Democratic Republic of Congo, which mines about 70 percent of the global supply. —Sharon Dierberger
An environmental group filed a lawsuit on Oct. 11 alleging the U.S. Forest Service has violated the Clean Water Act by not obtaining permits before dropping chemical flame retardant from aircraft when battling forest fires. A government assessment in February noted Forest Service aircraft dropped more than 760,000 gallons—less than 1 percent of the 102 million gallons aerially applied—onto streams and other waterways between 2012 and 2019. Pilots are supposed to leave a 300-foot-wide path on both sides of waterways unless the retardant is needed to protect human life or public safety. Chemicals in fire retardants may harm fish, frogs, crustaceans, and other aquatic species and plants. Forest Service officials declined to comment on the lawsuit, but have said in the past the Environmental Protection Agency doesn’t require permits because the buffer zones prevent discharge into water. The group that filed the suit—Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics—contends federal laws take precedence over EPA opinions. —Todd Vician
The Native American Guardian’s Association (NAGA) is fighting for an Indianapolis minor league baseball team to keep its “Indians” moniker. Members of NAGA, a nonprofit that advocates for increased recognition of Native Americans, told the IndyStar in an Oct. 9 interview that the team’s name and logo did not offend them. “Use it as an opportunity to educate about Native Americans,” said NAGA member Tony Henson, who is of Cherokee descent. The American Indian Center of Indiana also advised the Indianapolis team and expressed concerns about Native American images used as “mascotry.” But Henson argued sports teams can practice “respectful representation,” pointing to a 2016 AP poll that found 9 in 10 Native Americans didn’t mind the Washington Commanders’ old name, “Redskins.” NAGA helped convince the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Blackhawks to keep their names. —Elizabeth Russell
A Catholic high school has become the first private K-12 campus in the state to deploy a video-monitored weapons detection system. Lansing Catholic High School announced the decision to use ZeroEyes on Oct. 6: The system uses existing security cameras paired with artificial intelligence to detect threats. Former military and law enforcement personnel watch the live feeds to verify alerts and notify law enforcement. The company claims it can detect a gun and call first responders in three seconds. The school did not disclose how much it paid for the system. But amid a spate of school shootings, the school’s president called the decision to use ZeroEyes a “no-brainer.” Public schools in at least 19 states also use it, but privacy advocates warn constant video monitoring could violate personal freedom and sets a bad precedent. ZeroEyes, founded by former Navy SEALs, is also working with the U.S. military to develop its system for use in government facilities. —Bekah McCallum
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