KUCB KIAL Unalaska Community Broadcasting

ST. PAUL

Laura Kraegel/KUCB

For the last century, reindeer have roamed St. Paul Island without much oversight.

But now, the tribal government is stepping up its management style to boost subsistence options and the local economy.

Fleshy red reindeer quarters are spread across the tables of St. Paul’s tavern. Surrounding them are eager preteens, wielding knives and wearing plastic gloves.

“I don’t think we can cut through this bone," says one student. "It’s like that thick.”

“No! You don’t want to cut through the bone," a teacher responds. 

Pipa Escalante/KUCB

The only air carrier for the Pribilof Islands is asking for financial support to keep its remote market afloat.

PenAir has requested the U.S. Department of Transportation subsidize flights to St. Paul and St. George Islands, which are guaranteed Essential Air Service.

Courtesy of Jared Weems

In the Pribilof Islands, no one’s gotten an accurate count of blue king crab since the population crashed hard in the 1980s.

This summer, a marine biologist is trying to change that, with the species’ first in-depth study in more than 30 years.

His ultimate goal: Determine if blue crab can make a comeback — or if it’s gone for good.

It’s a foggy day on St. Paul Island, and Jared Weems  is itching for the weather to clear up. He wants to get out on the water and back to work.

Celeste Leroux/Alaska Sea Grant

 

The last commercial harvest of Pribilof Island blue king crab was in 1999. Extremely low population numbers have kept that fishery closed.

“They’re almost like unicorns in the trawl survey now,” said Lauren Divine, co-director of St. Paul’s Environmental Conservation Office. “There are very, very, very few being found. When you find one it’s kind of unreal. It’s kind of surreal. ”

Zoë Sobel/KUCB

St. Paul’s greenhouse isn’t what you’d imagine. There’s no big glass structure. All the windows are covered from the inside. It’s underneath the city’s grocery store on the first floor of the building.

It’s hydroponic. Blue and red LED lights hang suspended above the plants. Pumps fill the room with white noise.

"Let’s try to find a big one,” said greenhouse manager Dallas Roberts.

He drops by on a recent afternoon to harvest six heads of lettuce.

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