Alaska/Pacific Coast

NPFMC Tightens Limits on Chinook Bycatch
KUCB by Lauren Rosenthal – April 13, 2015
The Bering Sea pollock fleet is about to face tougher restrictions when it comes to salmon. This weekend, federal regulators agreed to tie the cap on Chinook bycatch to the health of Western Alaska’s runs. KUCB’s Lauren Rosenthal has more.

N. Pacific Council Adopts Moderate Chinook By-Catch Caps, after Lengthy Public Testimony
SEAFOODNEWS.COM  by John Sackton –  April 13, 2015
The N. Pacific Council adopted revised chinook bycatch rules for pollock that appear to provde the flexibility the pollock fleet needs to fish responsibly, but which also potentially lowers the hard cap under which the industry may face a shutdown.

After nearly a day and half of public testimony, some of which was dramatic and emotional, the council adopted a 25% reduction in the hard chinook bycatch cap by a 10-0 vote.

Under the approved motion, a hard cap of 45,000 chinook will be set, replacing the existing hard cap of 60,000 chinook, for low abundance years of chinook salmon.  If this level is reached, the pollock fishery would be required to shut down.

In addition, a performance standard of 33,318 fish was set, which is a reduction in the existing performance standard of 47,591 fish. Sectors that exceed the applicable performance standard, in 3 out of 7 years, would be held to their proportion of the annual applicable performance standard in future years even when chinook abundance increases.  The performance standard would become a hard cap.

Vessels will be required to use salmon excluder devices from Jan. 20 – March 31, and from Sept. 1 until the end of the B season. A rolling hotspot closure program will be required for both seasons.

These lower measures will take effect in any year following which total Western Alaska chinook run size index is less than 250,000 fish.

A second measure would adjust the proportion of A season pollock catch to 45% from 40%.  This will add value to the roe production in Alaska.  There is also a requirement that October chinook bycatch levels not exceed the average of prior months.

The proposal to start the B season ten days ealier, on June 1st, was not accepted.

Other measures include the avoidance of chum salmon to be incorporated into existing Incentive Plan Agreements (IPA’s) which govern chinook bycatch.

Under an IPA, vessels must join a privately managed incentive plan agreement that requires action by individual vessels and the entire fleet to avoid bycatch, and requires reporting, in some cases in real time.

The rules for chum bycatch management will be incorporated into the existing IPA’s for chinook bycatch, with the provision that none of the bycatch avoidance measures for chum salmon can negatively impact chinook salmon avoidance.

Secondly, incentives will be developed at the vessel level to reward those vessels who can most effectively reduce their bycatch.

There was ample testimony that the pollock industry had greatly improved their bycatch management since new hard caps were put in place in 2010.  Since 2010 chinook bycatch has mostly fluctuated between 9500 and 15,000 fish, with a single year exception in 2011 which was 25,000 fish.

Furthermore, impact analysis showed that pollock fleet bycatch only affects 2% of chinook in Western Alaska rivers, and other managment measures – such as other in river fisheries, also allow for chinook takes at similar levels, but were not discussed.

Given this record, some in the pollock industry did not want to see any reduction in the hard by-catch limits at all, and these were in fact not included in the advisory panel motion.   However, the council voted to set a lower hard cap limit in periods of low abundance, allowing the cap to snap back to its former level when abundance was higher.

The council action represented a compromise between advocates of a very harsh restriction, and those who argued for flexibility and incentive plans to reduce bycatch, but did not want to be bound by a hard number.

The practical effect will be to continue many of the successful by catch avoidance measures already in place, and allow the fleet to continue to maximize its efforts to operate efficiently while avoiding bycatch.

North Pacific council reduces Bering Sea salmon bycatch caps
Alaska Journal of Commerce by DJ Summers  – April 11, 2015
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council voted unanimously on April 11 to pass an amended package of chum and chinook salmon bycatch avoidance measures, including reductions in the performance standards and hard caps for chinook bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery.

Labeling and Marketing

Sockeye Salmon on a Downward Spiral
The Fish Site – April 14, 2015
US – If you are a sockeye buyer then the current market is ideal for any upcoming purchase decisions, reports Rob Reierson in the Tradex Foods 3-Minute Market Insight.

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Love of the ice — and tasty king crabs — keeps Nome crabber coming back
Alaska Dispatch News by Suzanna Caldwell – April 12, 2015
NOME — Longtime Nome resident Pat Hahn likes to joke that the sea ice in this Bering Sea community made him famous.

Friend of the Sea Leading International Omega-3 Sustainability Efforts
The Fish Site – April 13, 2015
GLOBAL – Friend of the Sea certification has become the leading international standard for producers of fish oil, fishmeal, fish feed and Omega-3 supplements.

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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April 14, 2015