Changes coming for salmon bycatch, GOA sablefish fishery
NPFMC actions are latest effort to trim incidental harvest of salmon in groundfish fisheries and combat whale predation of sablefish in the Gulf of Alaska
Cordova Times by Margaret Bauman – April 17, 2015
Big changes are in the works to stem the tide of salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery and the growing competition for sablefish in the Gulf of Alaska between commercial harvesters and whales.
Pacific Council Recommends Longer Commercial Season for California Chinook But Drought Effects Loom
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Marin Independent Journal] By Aaron Kinney – April 17, 2015
PRINCETON-BY-THE-SEA, Reflecting optimism about this year’s abundance of chinook salmon, fishing industry regulators on Wednesday approved the longest commercial season in more than a decade. But the state’s record drought has darkened the long-term outlook for one of California’s most valuable fish.
The San Francisco region’s 2015 season will total 138 days between May 1 and Sept. 30, the Pacific Fisheries Management Council decided near the end of a weeklong conference in Rohnert Park. The council also voted to allow 11 days of fishing off Point Reyes National Seashore in October, when the fall-run chinook pass under the Golden Gate Bridge to spawn in the Sacramento River system.
“I am feeling pretty good about this year,” said Pillar Point fisherman Don Marshall, who represents a group of roughly 75 small boat operators throughout California. “I think there are some fish around.”
But as California’s historic drought enters its fourth year, chinook salmon are under duress. Dry winters take a big toll on the fish, also known as king salmon, which need plenty of cold water to make their way out to sea as juveniles and return to lay eggs as adults.
The salmon have for many years had to compete with Central Valley agriculture for water. It’s a David vs. Goliath battle. California chinook salmon fishermen unloaded their catch for nearly $23 million in 2013. Central Valley farmers generate billions of dollars in sales every year.
But the fight for water will only get fiercer as the drought persists. Jon Rosenfield, conservation biologist for the Bay Institute, said winter- and spring-run chinook — smaller salmon populations that are protected under endangered species laws — will likely die off in coming years unless state and federal water managers allocate more water to the Sacramento River and its tributaries.
Meanwhile, the fall-run chinook’s numbers could plummet to the point that commercial fishermen are barred from catching them, Rosenfield said.
State and federal hatchery programs have enabled the fall spawning season to persist. Fishermen and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have bolstered those initiatives in recent years with a variety of new projects to truck or float juvenile salmon from inland hatcheries to the bay and ocean. Transporting the smolts protects them from almost certain death in the increasingly tepid and shallow Sacramento channel.
Marshall said the survival of the fall-run chinook, and the industry the fish supports, will depend on the willingness of the state and other stakeholders to devote more funding to these extraordinary measures.
Alaska At-Sea Processors say MSC is at ‘Reputational Risk’ After Tragic Sinking of Dainiy Vostok
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – April 19, 2015
The At-sea Processors Association, representing the MSC certified Alaska pollock producers, has written the MSC and Intertek Fisheries Certifications to answer for the facts that have come to light in the tragic sinking of the Dalniy Vostok with the loss of 69 lives.
The vessel was operated by one of the holders of the MSC Certificate for Russian Pollock, Magellan Co., Ltd.
In a letter dated April 17th, Stephanie Madsen, Executive Director, says that Russian reporting on the tragedy and the statements of surviving crew members show that there was immense disregard for independent verification of statements made by Russian management authorities, which were used by Intertek to award MSC certification to the fishery.
“APA and other stakeholders repeatedly expressed concerns throughout the process of certifying the Russian SOO (Sea of Okhtosk) pollock fishery that reliance on Russian government assurances about common practices aboard Russian vessels without adequate independent verification could result in a non‐credible certification determination by Intertek Fisheries Certification Ltd.
In the case of the Dalniy Vostok, 40% of the personnel on board were foreign nationals working illegally on the Russian trawler. Many were from Myanamar, and were not legally licensed to work on fishing vessels. The APA believes that this practice is likely common in the Russian fishery.
“Articles in the Myanmar Times include allegations that at least some of the foreign nationals were unaware they were being hired to work aboard a fishing vessel. Even more troubling, these articles also report that critical information on the vessel’s condition was intentionally withheld from the foreign workers and that they were denied access to life-saving equipment. These articles also reference corruption within the Russian fishery management authority and illegal actions by this fishery participant that contributed to both the vessel’s sinking and avoidable loss of life.”
“We sincerely hope the Russian government will conduct a thorough investigation of alleged labor abuses and illegal activities and take appropriate steps to protect basic human rights and implement basic fishing vessel safety reforms. But IFC and MSC have a duty here, as well. To the extent that claims of adequate fisheries monitoring and enforcement were provided in the original SOO pollock assessment, such claims rested on the credibility of the Russian fishery management authority. The investigation into this tragic event, particularly given international media interest, could well expose in further detail other poor fishing practices and inadequate fishery management and enforcement. IFC and MSC should demand a full accounting from the Russian authorities on how such gross violations could go undetected by the Russian government and seek independent verification where concerns still exist.”
In short, the Alaskan Producers are saying that legitimate Russian operators, the Supply Chain which buys these products, other MSC certified fisheries, and the MSC itself, all are at reputational risk unless steps are taken to independently verify policies and enforcement by the managers of the Russian pollock fishery.
“The sinking of the Dalniy Vostok is first and foremost a terrible and avoidable human tragedy. It also highlights the reputational risks for everyone -‐ the IFC, the MSC…, the supply chain members that sell products from the SOO, the other fisheries that are MSC certified and those Russian fishing companies that abide by the law – when there is not independent verification of attestations of policies and enforcement made by fishery managers when there are serious, legitimate concerns about their veracity.”
Labor standards are not part of the MSC principles, but other groups in the UK have adopted strong principals against illegal labor on board fishing vessels, and the problem has created an uproar in Thailand. As with illegal labor and seafood fraud, where there is one type of non-sanctioned activity in a fishery, frequently there are others as yet undetected. If operators are willing to ignore some laws, why wouldn’t they ignore the promises made in achieving certification?
The APA says the answer to this is credible third party verification, which they feel is lacking in the MSC certification of the Russian fishery, as the investigation into the tragic loss of life in the sinking of the Dalniy Vostok is likely to reveal a range of unsanctioned behavior.
Threatened Fish by Country: US Leads the World
Arbiter New by Arbiter Environmental Writers – April 15, 2015
WASHINGTON, April 15, 2015—The world’s oceans and other bodies of water continue to face several pressures. As a result, an increasing number of fish species are being driven to extinction by unsustainable fishing practices, pollution, marine debris, spread of disease and loss of habitat.
Research identifies factors affecting salmon spawning
UAF News by Sharice Walker – April 16, 2015
Warmer water and smaller run sizes can increase the rates at which salmon spawn away from their home streams, according to a study led by a University of Alaska Fairbanks researcher.
Along Alaska’s Naknek River, belugas and spring go hand in hand
Alaska Dispatch News by Megan Edge – April 18, 2015
For residents living along the banks of the Naknek River in Southwest Alaska, the annual arrival of beluga whales chasing rainbow smelt upriver marks the transition from winter to spring. And for some, it also represents an opportunity to put food on their family’s table.
Editors’s View: What’s Changed Between Alaska and the MSC: A Whole World
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [The Editor’s View] by John Sackton – April 16, 2015
We were struck by the childish tone of one of the critics of Alaska’s major salmon producers returning to the MSC, after they had refused to participate in the client group for two years.
I am just grateful that the seafood industry producers and retail buyers, as well as the sustainability movement has moved on to a more robust infrastructure for, and understanding of, global certifications and ecolabels.
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