Alaska/Pacific Coast

Gulf Snow Crab Quota Even Higher Than Expected, Set at Nearly 44,000 tons
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – April 13, 2017
The snow crab supply picture from Atlantic Canada is coming into better focus. The Canadian DFO announced today that the quota in the Southern Gulf, which was 21,725 tons last year, will more than double to 43,822 tons this year.

Combined with the Newfoundland quota of 35,419 tons, total Canadian harvests from the two primary producing areas will total 79,241 tons of crab, or nearly 175 million pounds of live crab if the entire quota is caught.

In 2016, these two areas had combined quota of 62,531 tons. Actual catches in Newfoundland were about 3,000 tons below the quota. The Gulf quota was 100% caught in 2016.

Assuming that actual harvests will be below the quota in both Newfoundland and the Gulf, a conservative estimate is that these areas will put 75,000 tons on the market, compared to 59,000 in 2016. This is an increase of 27%.

There will be some slight decreases in Quebec and Nova Scotia, while in Labrador 2J remains about the same.

The DFO report showed snow crab biomass in the Southern Gulf near 100,000 tons, near its highest ever recorded level of 103,000 tons.  This allowed them to use a 44.2% exploitation rate, with a 95% confidence that the biomass available to the fishery in 2018 will be in the range of 77,000 tons (the actual range is 62,000 to 93,000 tons).

Figure from DFO Report Showing far biomass is from minimum harvest levels.

The tone of the report strongly suggests that the biomass will again be very high for the 2018 fishery, in the top 25% of all years.

The psychology of the crab market shifted in the winter of 2016, when Alaska quotas were cut substantially. Sellers who were very successful with crab in 2015 were not expecting to run into a resource shortage. The resulting rise in price has dominated snow crab markets since then.

It was also the basis for the Price Panel in Newfoundland to award a $CA 4.39 minimum crab price to Harvesters ($3.31) for live crab, based on record prices paid this winter.

The change in the supply picture this month will undoubtedly have another market impact.

Wholesale crab prices may see a lot of volatility at the beginning of the season due to the different factors influencing the different producing areas.

Newfoundland, which is likely to open first, is seeing a 22% quota cut, and will see intense competition among processors to secure crab.

The Gulf, which will open later due to the presence of ice in some harbors around Shippigan, will see heavy landings and likely trip limits, so processors will be working at capacity and eager to quickly sell product to finance more purchases.

In May, when the fishery has been underway for a few weeks, a clearer picture of the market demand and supply should emerge.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1057901/Gulf-Snow-Crab-Quota-Even-Higher-Than-Expected-Set-at-Nearly-44000-tons

NPFMC Take Action on CDQ Ownership Caps
Fishermen’s News – April 13, 2017
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) has taken final action to establish limitations on ownership and use of limited access privileges to prevent the excessive consolidation of privileges under Community Development Quota (CDQ) caps.
http://fnonlinenews.blogspot.com/2017/04/npfmc-take-action-on-cdq-ownership-caps.html

An Alaskan fishing company’s quest for sustainable seafood
Innovative technology helps Westward Seafoods cut energy costs, meet strict environmental legislation and create value from waste.
Alfa Laval – April 12, 2017
Dedicated to minimizing its eco-footprint, Westward Westward Seafoods works to stay ahead of the curve in an industry where waste and pollution are subject to increasingly tight regulation by the US Environmental Protection Agency. For the company, these efforts are a win-win solution.
http://www.alfalaval.com/media/stories/food-processing/an-alaskan-fishing-companys-quest-for-sustainable-seafood/

Pacific Fishery Management Council closes sardine fishery for third straight year
Monterey Herald by Carly Mayberry – April 10, 2017
As earlier predicted, federal fishery managers from the Pacific Fishery Management Council on Monday voted to keep the U.S. West Coast Pacific sardine fishery closed for the upcoming commerci
http://www.montereyherald.com/business/20170410/pacific-fishery-management-council-closes-sardine-fishery-for-third-straight-year

PFMC Approves Limited Salmon Seasons; Effects Ripple to Other Fisheries
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Susan Chambers – April 12, 2017
Sacramento, Calif. — Dire West Coast ocean salmon seasons haven’t officially started but already are affecting non-salmon fisheries such as sablefish and Pacific whiting.

Sablefish harvesters will get increased trip limits to help avoid salmon conflicts, and the whiting fleet will get a special additional bycatch allocation since moving out of Klamath salmon areas will force them into a higher bycatch zone.

The Pacific Fishery Management Council approved Tuesday no summer salmon seasons in parts of Oregon and California and limited seasons on the rest of the coast to protect struggling stocks such as coho in Washington and Klamath fall Chinook and Sacramento winter Chinook in Oregon and California.

Salmon trollers knew coming into the April PFMC meeting the struggle to balance resource conservation needs with the personal needs of individual income.

“Thousands of commercial salmon fishing families on the West Coast are going to be hit hard by another significantly curtailed salmon season this year, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association Executive Director Noah Oppenheim said in a statement. “… We know that these closures are caused by the same flawed projects and policies that closed the fishery nine years ago. Salmon need cold water, good habitat, and adequate flows now and into the future, and salmon fishing families and seafood consumers need sustainable, locally caught salmon.”

The commercial non-tribal salmon fishery in the Klamath Management Zone, a 200 mile stretch of coast from Humbug Mountain in Oregon to Horse Mountain in California, will be closed this year. A limited fishery of up to 3,000 fish, with a limit of 60 fish per week per boat in the Fort Bragg area will be allowed in September. The area surrounding San Francisco will open for a limited time in August, September and parts of October. The salmon fishery will be open in May and June solely in areas south of Pigeon Point.

In Washington, both tribal and non-Indian commercial fishermen will have more opportunity this year due to improved status for many coho stocks — but the improvement is slight.

In recent years, unfavorable environmental conditions, such as warm ocean water and drought, have reduced the number of salmon returning to Washington’s waters, Washington Department of Fish and Widlife Salmon Policy Lead Kyle Adicks said in a statement.

“We’re in the third year of a multi-year downturn in salmon returns,” Adicks said. “Similar to last year, we faced significant challenges in crafting fisheries.”

Tribal and non-Indian ocean commercial fisheries are designed to provide harvest opportunity on strong Chinook returns primarily destined for the Columbia River while avoiding coho stocks of concern. Coho retention is allowed in commercial fisheries north of Cape Falcon this year, which is an improvement over the non-retention regulations from last year. However, the coho quotas are very low in 2017.

Non-Indian ocean commercial fisheries north of Cape Falcon include traditional, but reduced, Chinook seasons in the spring (May-June) and summer season (intermittent openings during July through September). The Chinook quota of 27,000 in the spring is greater than the 2016 quota of 19,100. The summer season quotas include 18,000 Chinook and 5,600 coho.

Tribal ocean fisheries north of Cape Falcon are similar in structure to past years, with quotas that include 40,000 Chinook and 12,500 coho.

Already, Oregon and California fishermen are preparing to request the fishery be declared a fishery failure and are making alternative summer plans.

Some, like California troller Dave Bitts, may try to pump crab pots, or flush them out of areas where they got sanded in during one of the many storms over the winter and spring, and return them to their owners.

Other trollers may switch to another fishery, such as sablefish. The PFMC’s Groundfish Advisory Panel noted that bad weather has prevented many fixed-gear fishermen from accessing blackcod they would otherwise harvest and requested an increase in daily, weekly and bimonthly trip limits. The Council agreed, noting that increasing those limits may also help salmon fishermen.

At the same time, the at-sea whiting fleets — motherships and catcher-processors — found themselves in a bind. Much of the recent whiting catch in years past has been off the southern Oregon Coast. While incidental salmon catches have been low and the fleets actively move away from areas where salmon are caught, they recognized the urgency of staying out of the Klamath Management Zone as much as possible.

However, that also means likely moving north and encountering more Pacific ocean perch rockfish, or POP, which is listed as overfished. Limited amounts of POP are made available as bycatch to the at-sea fleets.

The Council recognized the CPs and Mothership this year are caught between salmon and rockfish and made an allowance to transfer 7 metric tons of POP to the at-sea fleets from an open access contingency account.

“It has been another challenging year for the Council, its advisers, fishery stakeholders and the public as we strive to balance fishing opportunities on harvestable stocks of Chinook and coho with the severe conservation needs we are facing on salmon stocks, both north and south of Cape Falcon,” Council Executive Director Chuck Tracy said in a press release.

Decisions made at the Council now go to NMFS for approval.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1057747/PFMC-Approves-Limited-Salmon-Seasons-Effects-Ripple-to-Other-Fisheries

Environment/Science

US scientists track fish migration using DNA in water samples
Tribune by AFP – April 13, 2017
WASHINGTON: A simple analysis of fish DNA in water drawn from two New York rivers successfully tracked the presence or absence of numerous species during a spring marine migration, according to research published Wednesday.
https://tribune.com.pk/story/1382644/us-scientists-track-fish-migration-using-dna-water-samples/

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April 13, 2017