PRIBILOF ISLANDS

Courtesy of Phil Zavadil

A fuel ration on the Pribilof Island of St. Paul ended Tuesday after more than a month and a half of limiting fuel for both residents and fishermen.

The Bering Sea community announced the ration in late February after bad weather repeatedly canceled the arrival of a fuel barge. 

The North Pacific Fuel barge finally arrived at the dock on Tuesday, according to City Manager Phil Zavadil. The city had been waiting on its arrival since November of last year. 

Hope McKenney/KUCB

St. Paul has implemented a two-week "hunker down" order after officials confirmed the island's first case of COVID-19 Wednesday — more than a year after the pandemic arrived in the state. 

An essential worker tested positive Wednesday in the small community of 371 residents in the Pribilof Islands, according to City Manager Phil Zavadil. There are an additional 300 seasonal workers and contractors on the island as well. 

Courtesy of Bill Prout

A group of Bering Sea crabbers say the pandemic has slowed their fishing season, and they want more time to catch their quota before the state shuts down their season next week.

But the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has denied their request for an extension, citing low population numbers and an upcoming mating season. 

For the few boats fishing bairdi crab this year, there could be a lot at stake if they don't have time to catch their full quota. 

Hope McKenney/KUCB

The COVID-19 pandemic has already disrupted Alaska's winter Bering Sea fishing seasons, closing plants and adding quarantine-related complications for crews.

Now, some boats are contending with a shortage of fuel at a key island port, leaving them with less time to catch their quota. 

Courtesy of Dustin Newman

Last month, the Aleutian Pribilof Islands Association (APIA) launched a pen pal program for Alaska Native youth and elders in the region.

It's meant to create a space — amidst the coronavirus pandemic — where different generations of Alaska Natives can safely connect, according to APIA Youth Services Coordinator Jenna Larson.

"We want to see the youth learning from the elders, and the elders passing on their knowledge and their favorite things about their culture," Larson said. 

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