Alaska/Pacific Coast

Alaska Salmon Gets MSC Certification, This Time Including PWS Pink and Chum Salmon
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – April 21, 2017
The final report of the results of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) assessment of the Prince William Sound (PWS) salmon fisheries is out and this time, pink and chum hatchery salmon from that area were certified as sustainable.

At issue with Prince William Sound, which is home to two major hatchery production facilities, is whether or not, and to what extent possible, the high volume of hatchery-reared juvenile salmon may negatively affect the wild stock.

The evaluation was done by way of a “scope extension” to the currently certified Alaska Salmon fishery. There is now a 15 working day period during which a previously involved stakeholder may lodge a notice of objection to this determination.

The extended scope analysis found that “The fishery is intensively managed and successful in providing natural spawning escapement consistent with sustaining high yields.”

They also found that “Assessments of hatchery numbers and hatchery contributions to natural spawning populations provide a basis for assessing the potential risk of hatchery enhancement to wild populations.”

The assessors also noted that “Commercial salmon fishing gear is highly selective for target salmon species with a very low incidence of incidental harvest or interaction of other species.”

MSC’s ongoing concerns are that “Additional information is needed on the effects on wild population productivity and fitness of hatchery-origin Pink and Chum Salmon spawning in natural production areas,” according to the report.

“Questions remain in some quarters regarding the potential ecosystem effects of large scale hatchery production of salmon throughout the Pacific,” noted the assessment.

“Based on the information available to date, the PWS Salmon fishery scope extension achieved overall scores of 82.4 for Principle 1 and 86.0 for Principle 2. P3 scores are the same as for the currently certified Alaska Salmon fishery, Southeast AK unit (IMM 2013). As such, the PWS Salmon fishery is recommended for certification against the MSC Standard, as no indicator scored less than 60, and all overall principle scores were above 80,” the report concluded.

Three conditions of certification placed on the PWS Salmon fishery are to:

* Demonstrate a high likelihood that the enhancement activities do not have significant negative impacts on the local adaptation, reproductive performance and productivity or diversity of wild stocks based on low hatchery contributions and/or impact on wild fitness.

* Demonstrate an objective basis for confidence that the enhancement strategy is effective for protecting wild stocks from significant detrimental impacts based on evidence that the strategy is achieving the outcome metrics used to define the minimum detrimental impacts.

* Provide information on the contribution of enhanced fish to the wild escapement of Pink and Chum Salmon, and relative fitness of hatchery- origin fish sufficient to evaluate the effect of enhancement activities on wild stock status, productivity and diversity.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1058732/Alaska-Salmon-Gets-MSC-Certification-This-Time-Including-PWS-Pink-and-Chum-Salmon

Feds Close Flatfish, Rockfish, Sablefish Trawling in Gulf of Alaska 2 Weeks Earlier Than Last Year
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – April 20, 2017
NMFS has closed the deepwater trawl fisheries in the Gulf directed at rockfish, sablefish, flatfish and arrowtooth flounder effective April 13th.

The fishery has come up against its halibut bycatch limit of 256 metric tons.

This is a temporary closure, and the fishery will reopen May 15th, with their third-period allocation.

The fishery will close at the latest on July 1st, under the management plan.

The closure this year is two weeks earlier than last year’s closure, which was effective April 30th.

This halibut bycatch management measure applies to the specific deep water species and does not impact the pollock and cod trawl catches, which operate under different bycatch allocations.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1058617/Feds-Close-Flatfish-Rockfish-Sablefish-Trawling-in-Gulf-of-Alaska-2-Weeks-Earlier-Than-Last-Year

AFSC Study Examines Bering Sea Fish Populations Over 34 Years
Fishermen’s News – April 19, 2017
A new study by the Alaska Fisheries Science Center examines how fish populations have changed over the past 34 years of varying climate conditions, and researchers say their work may provide clues to how future changes will affect fisheries.
http://fnonlinenews.blogspot.com/2017/04/afsc-study-examines-bering-sea-fish.html

International

Russian Pollock Producers Plan to Grow Exports to EU Market 40% by 2019
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Eugene Gerden – April 21, 2017
Russian pollock producers plans to significantly increase the volume of their supplies to the EU market during the next several years, according to an official spokesman of the Russian Federal Agency of Fisheries (Rosrybolovstvo).

That will be achieved through the increase of the volume of domestic fish processing and the reduction of fish exports to abroad, more than 87% of which account for frozen, whole fish.

Currently the share of Russian fisherman in the EU pollock market is estimated at 8%, however, according to state plans, it should grow by 40% already by 2018-2019 years.  To date, Russian pollock producers have already started talks with some of the EU leading fish importers, regarding with the planned supplies.

Strengthening of the Russian currency – ruble, which has been observed in recent months, has made further exports of frozen pollock to China and other Asian states not so profitable for Russian pollock producers, as in the past, while the level of pollock consumption in the domestic market remains still low, as pollock is still associated with Soviet times among the local consumers, when it was positioned in the low-priced category.

Overall, last year the volume of fish catch in Russia amounted to 4.7 million tonnes, which became a record figure for the last 20 years. According to plans of Rosrybolovstvo, these figures should increase by 1 million tonnes by 2022, that will be mainly due to the expansion of the Russian fishing fleet and the commissioning of new fishing trawlers by this time.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1058772/Russian-Pollock-Producers-Plan-to-Grow-Exports-to-EU-Market-40-percent-by-2019

Environment/Science

USGS offers major aquatic carbon flux assessment
Cordova Times – April 20, 2017
A new report from the U.S. Geological Survey says that while freshwater ecosystems cover only a small area of the land surface in Alaska they transport and emit a significant amount of carbon.
http://www.thecordovatimes.com/2017/04/20/usgs-offers-major-aquatic-carbon-flux-assessment/

Habitat bill draws attention, but won’t get vote this year
Alaska Journal of Commerce by Tim Bradner – April 19, 2017
JUNEAU — It is already being dubbed, “fish first, nothing else.”
Reps. Louise Stutes, R-Kodiak, and Andy Josephson, D-Anchorage, have introduced a bill that would set up a new fisheries habitat permitting system, to be administered by the state Department of Fish and Game, for construction projects that affect waterways.
http://www.alaskajournal.com/2017-04-19/habitat-bill-draws-attention-won%E2%80%99t-get-vote-year#.WPjGX461s_U

Federal Register

Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act Provisions; Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Northeast Groundfish Fishery; Amendment 18
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 04/21/2017
This final rule implements Amendment 18 to the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan. The New England Fishery Management Council developed Amendment 18 to promote fleet diversity and in the groundfish fishery, prevent the acquisition of excessive shares of permits, and enhance sector management. This action limits the number of permits and annual groundfish allocation that an entity can hold. This action also removes several effort restrictions to increase operational flexibility for fishermen on limited access handgear vessels.
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/04/21/2017-08035/magnuson-stevens-fishery-conservation-and-management-act-provisions-fisheries-of-the-northeastern

Pacific Halibut Fisheries; Catch Sharing Plan
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 04/20/2017
This final rule announces the approval of the Pacific Halibut Catch Sharing Plan (Plan) and codified regulations for the International Pacific Halibut Commission’s (IPHC or Commission) regulatory Area 2A off Washington, Oregon, and California (Area 2A). In addition, NMFS announces the implementation of the portions of the Plan and management measures that are not regulated through the IPHC, including the sport fishery allocations and management measures for Area 2A. The intent of this final rule is to conserve Pacific halibut, provide angler opportunity where available, and minimize bycatch of overfished groundfish species.
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/04/20/2017-08022/pacific-halibut-fisheries-catch-sharing-plan

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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April 21, 2017