Alaska/Pacific Coast

Togiak herring harvested after surprisingly early opener
KDLG by Dave Bendinger – April 22, 2016
First 15 tons hauled in by one seiner Tuesday, with roe yield sampled at 15 percent. That was good news for a fleet and industry caught flatfooted by the herring’s record early arrival.

Package of tax hikes on fishing, mining and fuel stalls
Alaska Journal of Commerce by DJ Summers – April 20, 2016
A bill to raise taxes on fisheries, fuel and mining remains unscheduled for a House Finance Committee hearing after public objections.

Pacific Council Green Lights Electronic Monitoring Aboard West Coast Trawl Fleets Starting in 2017
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Susan Chambers – April 22, 2016
The Pacific Fishery Management Council voted earlier this month to allow three West Coast commercial fishing fleets to employ camera-based electronic monitoring systems. Beginning in 2017, commercial fishing vessels can substitute cameras for human observers. This move is designed to simplify logistics, reduce costs and increase profits for fishermen.

As of 2017, the fixed-gear, shore-based whiting trawl and mothership catcher vessel fleets will no longer be required to carry human observers on fishing trips, as they currently do under the “full accountability” fishery management system that regulates these fleets.

“This is precedent-setting because it’s the first Council-authorized electronic monitoring system to move from pilot project to full implementation in U.S. waters for purposes of catch accounting,” said Shems Jud, pacific regional director for Environmental Defense Fund’s Oceans Program, in a press release. “The Council’s decision culminates several years’ worth of work by fishermen, the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission, Council staff and NGOs.  This decision represents a watershed moment in fisheries co-management in this region, and may serve as a model for others.”

The National Marine Fisheries Service issued a policy directive in 2013 to “encourage the consideration of electronic technologies to complement and/or improve existing fishery-dependent data collection programs …,” according to the directive. Fisheries in other parts of the U.S., particularly ones in which the costs of human observers are high, have been exploring the use of EM systems. The West Coast program could be a model for implementation in other U.S. fisheries, according to the press release.

Some 26 vessels in the groundfish fishery have been testing the EM systems on the West Coast since 2015 under exempted fishing permits. The total number of vessels eligible to carry cameras based on this decision could be as many as 45.

West Coast groundfish trawl fleets have been operating with 100 percent observer coverage since the groundfish catch shares program launched in January 2011. Logistical challenges, uneven availability of observers and shoreside monitors, and high observer costs shouldered by fishermen have been a significant source of frustration among the fleet.

Under the “optimized retention” approach adopted by the Council, fishermen’s logbook entries will be the primary data source, and they will be checked against the videos by authorized third parties.

“What this decision does is transfer responsibility for catch accounting from the federal government to vessel operators, where it should be,” said Heather Mann, executive director of the Midwater Trawlers Cooperative, an Oregon-based organization representing 18 whiting vessels. “Skippers will use their logbook to track their catch, and electronic monitoring is there to verify that their logbook is accurate. This decision is a long-overdue acknowledgement that West Coast groundfish fishermen are responsible stewards of their fishery.”

On the West Coast, the West Coast Region’s electronic technology implementation plan also includes options at-sea EM programs for the swordfish fishery and identified potential needs or uses in the sardine and salmon troll fisheries with regard to electronic fish tickets.

Council action for groundfish bottom trawl vessels will take place in 2017. Some of these vessels have been operating under EFPs as well.

“Along with vessels, shoreside processors also are investigating the possibility of EM to ease the regulatory burden for seafood processing plants,” West Coast Seafood Processors Association Senior Policy Adviser Rod Moore said.

Under the trawl catch shares program, shoreside monitors are required to monitor the offloads. Oftentimes, the vessel observer also acts as the shoreside monitor when the vessel unloads. But as more vessels move to EM, hiring shoreside monitors for remote ports is costly.


Status of Stocks 2015
NOAA – April 20, 2016
U.S. Fisheries Continue to Rebuild
As a result of the combined efforts of NOAA Fisheries, the regional fishery management councils, and all our partners, in 2015 we rebuilt two stocks, and the number of stocks listed as subject to overfishing or overfished remains near an all-time low.

Full Report ‘Status of Stocks 2015’:


University of Washington study: Pacific ‘blob’ likely to return in five years time
Peninsula Daily News by Chris McDaniel – April 17, 2016
The so-called “warm blob” that emerged in 2013 and 2014 off the Pacific Northwest and just recently dissipated is a recurring phenomenon — known as a marine heat wave — expected to return in five-year intervals, according to a recently released University of Washington study.

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Fixed-Gear Commercial Halibut and Sablefish Fisheries; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program; Cost Recovery Authorized Payment Methods
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 04/22/2016
NMFS issues regulations to revise the authorized methods for payment of cost recovery fees for the Halibut and Sablefish Individual Fishing Quota Program and the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program. These regulations are necessary to improve data security procedures and to reduce administrative costs of processing cost recovery fee payments. This final rule is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Northern Pacific Halibut Act of 1982, the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area, the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska, the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs, and other applicable laws.


Weekend Course Geared for Budding Fishery Managers
KMXT by Jay Barrett – April 21, 2016
This weekend, a Sitka fisheries technology professor is bringing his class across the Gulf of Alaska to Kodiak. Joel Marcus, an assistant professor of fisheries with the University of Alaska Southeast will be holding a fisheries management lab in the classroom and in the field.

Boaty McBoatface Name ‘Not Suitable’, Science Minister Jo Johnson Says
124,000 people’s dreams dead in the water.
HuffPost UK by Aubrey Allegretti – April 18, 2016
Forget the EU referendum. The public vote everyone is talking about is Boaty McBoatface.
The poll to name Britain’s new polar research ship closed this weekend, with runaway winner Boaty McBoatface notching up 124,000 votes – four times its closest rival.

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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April 22, 2016