The Alaska Fisheries Report 14-16 April 2016
KMXT by Jay Barrett – April 14, 2016
Coming up this week, we get an update on the progress of winter crabbing in Southeast. We get a solid number look at last spring’s king run on the Kusko, and trying to define the essence of the Bristol Bay Brand. All that and how commercial fishing fits into bridging the budget gap. We had help from KMXT’s Kayla Desroches in Kodiak, KFSK’s Angela Denning in Petersburg, KDLG’s Molly Dischner in Dillingham and KYUK’s Charles Enoch in Bethel.
Pacific Council Works Out West Coast Salmon Seasons Except in Puget Sound During Contentious Meeting
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Susan Chambers – April 15, 2016
A long week of salmon season negotiations in Vancouver, Wash., resulted in seasons for ocean fisheries but no resolution for Puget Sound fisheries in Washington. Generally, commercial fishermen across the West Coast are faced with overall reductions of less than half of what they could catch in 2015.
The Pacific Fishery Management Council and its advisory bodies finalized ocean quotas and season structures Thursday. Generally, Chinook returns were fair to poor and, in the case of coho in Washington, dire. The balance between protecting stocks and allowing sport and commercial fishing opportunity made negotiations between managers and stakeholders especially difficult.
“I’ve never seen a situation like this, with such low coho numbers” and high Chinook numbers, said Phil Anderson, formerly the Washington Department of Fisheries and Wildlife representative to the council but now in the Washington at-large seat on the council.
By mid-week, California and Oregon fishery managers and sport and commercial fishermen had hammered out plans for their seasons and returned home. Washington and five treaty tribes worked late nights with the hopes of resolution, but to no avail.
Drought, El Nino and the warm water “blob,” are being blamed for poor salmon runs. It also made forecasting difficult. Tribal leaders noted two years of warm water. Whether warm water in 2016 will return is difficult to predict, but managers warned coho return forecasts may be similar to 2015.
“It’s a very extraordinary and unusual year, especially for coho,” PFMC salmon staff officer Mike Burner said prior to the council approving ocean fisheries. The process this year necessitates departing from the salmon fishery management plan and looking to the National Marine Fisheries Service to use temporary emergency rules for implementing some of the salmon seasons in Puget Sound.
Fisheries north of Cape Falcon (near Nehalem in northern Oregon) depend largely on Columbia River Chinook and coho stocks. Columbia River fall Chinook returns are expected to return at high levels, and Columbia River coho are expected to return at reduced but moderate levels in 2016.
Non-Indian fisheries will be allowed 70,000 Chinook, roughly half of what was allowed in 2015. In the Columbia River area, 18,900 marked hatchery coho will be allowed — 11 percent of what was allowed in 2015. These are further broken down between commercial and recreational 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, the PFMC said in a press release. Coho retention is prohibited in all commercial fisheries north of Cape Falcon this year.
Non-Indian ocean commercial fisheries north of Cape Falcon include traditional, but reduced, Chinook seasons in the spring (May-June) and summer (July-August), and any coho caught in the commercial fishery must be released. The Chinook quota of 19,100 in the spring is approximately half of the 2015 quota, while the summer season Chinook quota is similar to last year at 23,400 Chinook.
Tribal ocean Chinook fisheries north of Cape Falcon are reduced from 2015 levels with a quota of 40,000 fish (compared to 60,000 last year). In addition, the treaty tribes approved a zero retention of coho for their fisheries — which include no coho for tribal subsistence and ceremonial use.
“This is quite a change for us,” PFMC tribal representative David Sones said while making the motion for approving tribal ocean fishing options.
Oregon and California trollers, who depend more on Klamath River and Sacramento River Chinook, will see limited seasons this year as well. Abundance forecasts for Sacramento River fall Chinook is roughly half of what it was last year, around 300,000 fish. Klamath River abundance, though, is substantially lower and is the main commercial season restraining factor. In central California, concern over Sacramento River winter Chinook, listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act, will constrain fisheries south of Point Arena, Calif.
Commercial fisheries from Cape Falcon to Humbug Mountain, Oregon opened on April 8 and will run through October 31 with intermittent closures to reduce impacts on Klamath fall Chinook. Fisheries in the Humbug Mountain-to-California-border area will be open April 8 through May, with Chinook quota fisheries in June (720) and July (200), less than half of what they were in 2015. Fisheries from the California border to Humboldt South Jetty will open on September 9 with a 1,000 Chinook quota, one-third of last year.
Between Horse Mountain and Point Arena (in the Fort Bragg area), commercial Chinook salmon fisheries will be open June 13 to 30, August 3 to 27, and September 1 to 30.
In the area from Point Arena to Pigeon Point (San Francisco), the season will be open May 6 to 31, June 13 to 30, August 3 to 28, and during the month of September. From Pigeon Point to the Mexico border (Monterey), the Chinook season will be open in May and June. There will also be a season from Point Reyes to Point San Pedro, open October 3 to 7 and 10 to 14.
The PFMC decisions will be forwarded to the National Marine Fisheries Service for approval and implementation.
Warmer Bering Sea will reduce future pollock harvests but raise prices
Alaska Dispatch News by Yereth Rosen – April 16, 2016
Rising temperatures in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska will reduce stocks and harvests of Alaska pollock by mid-century, but there is a silver lining for the fishing industry, according to a new report: The ubiquitous whitefish gobbled around the world in fast-food sandwiches, frozen sticks and imitation crab meat will no longer be ultra-cheap.
Togiak Herring Roe Season Opens Ten Days Earlier Than in Recent Years
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – April 18, 2016
The Togiak herring roe season opened yesterday at 6 pm, almost exactly ten days earlier than in 2015 and 2014 and more than three weeks earlier than in 2013.
“We’ve never started fishing before the 25th.,” said Tim Sands, management biologist for the Alaska Departent of Fish & Game. “We can open it potentially as early as the 15th. But the earliest we’ve ever opened is the 25th [of April]. We’ve seen fish earlier than that, on the 22nd, I think, so this is much much earlier than we’ve ever seen,” Sands told KDLG Radio’s Molly Dischner last week.
The forecasted harvest of 28,783 mt is close to last year’s catch, and represents 20% of the total biomass observed.
The Alaska Department of Fish & Game’s Dillingham staff flew a survey of the Togiak Herring District yesterday under very poor conditions. They saw 37 miles of herring spawn in Nunavachak Bay, around Summit Island, in Ungalikthluk Bay, Rocky Bay, behind Tongue Point, by Asigyukpak (Oosik) Spit, at Hagemeister Spit and the northwest end of Hagemeister Island.
The reduced state budget for Fish and Game doesn’t include herring surveys, so this year the surveys are being funded by industry.
“Based on the amount of spawn documented on this survey, the multiple reports of fish observed, the previous reports of spawn, and the duration that fish have been present on the grounds, we will open the commercial sac roe fishery,” wrote Sands.
A month ago, when preparing the Outlook for the Togiak herring sac roe fishery, the staff acknowledged that changing climate indicators increased uncetainty in timing of the herring spawn, which triggers the opener.
“The commercial fishery and spawn timing is largely related to water temperatures … on the spawning grounds,” wrote Sands. Sea surface temperature and sea ice trends across the southeastern Bering Sea in the weeks prior to spawning also foretell spawning.
“We track the average sea surface temperature and Bering Sea ice coverage in February and March, as we consider these variables a useful index of timing for maturing herring ultimately bound for spawning grounds in and around the Togiak District,” Sands said.
“Currently sea surface temperatures are much higher than we would expect at this time of year and the region of the Bering Sea that we believe has predictive power is ice free. [T]hese conditions are so far from normal, we have little confidence in our ability to accurately forecast timing this year,” he wrote.
A total of 32,449 tons of herring will be available for harvest in the coming weeks. The seiners are allocated 20,148 tons and the gillnetters allocation is 8,635 tons. In addition, there is a Dutch Harbor food and bait allocation of 2,166 tons and 1,500 tons allocated to the Roe on Kelp fishery.
In years past, the season has lasted 3-4 weeks.
What the fish in Alaska’s oceans are eating — and what that can tell us
Bristol Bay Times by Molly Dischner – April 17, 2016
Ever wonder what eats the salmon that don’t make it back to Bristol Bay? Or what fish are cannibals?
Labeling and Marketing
3MMI – Seafood Market Trends Recap – Were we Accurate?
TradexFoods – April 18, 2016
3-Minute Market Insight:
– Every week we discuss seafood market trends and project where we think pricing and supply is headed, this week we discuss our recommendations on a few major species: Tilapia, Pacific Cod, and Atlantic Cod.
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