President Trump Signs Resolution Overturning U.S. Fish and Wildlife Regulation
End-of-term Obama Regulation Seized Alaska’s Authority to Manage Fish and Game
SitNews – April 5, 2017
Alaska Governor Bill Walker thanked Congress and the President yesterday for taking action to overturn federal regulations that prohibit certain hunting methods on national wildlife refuges.
Letter calls for approval of fishery disaster funds
Eureka Times-Standard by Will Houston – April 5, 2017
A bipartisan group of congressional representatives sent a letter to House and Senate leaders Wednesday urging them to include disaster relief funds for nine West Coast crab and salmon fisheries in a government spending bill this month.
Major Fishery and Processor Associations Ask Gov. Inslee’s Council Recommendations be Withdrawn
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – April 5, 2017
Four major West coast and Alaska organizations have expressed outrage over Washington Governor Inslee’s nominations for new appointments to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.
The groups have written to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, asking that the Washington State nominations be returned and that the Governor be asked to follow the state’s public appointment process.
The four groups, the Pacific Seafood Processors Association, the At-Sea Processors Association, the United Catcher Boats and the Groundfish Forum represent the groundfish fishery in Alaska, which accounts for the largest share of both volume and value of the fisheries managed by the North Pacific Council.
Originally, three people were informed by the Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife that they were on the governor’s nomination list. They were Kenny Down, President of Blue North Fisheries, a freezer longliner company that has just launched the first major new longliner added to the fleet in many years. Down is currently serving as one of Washington’s representatives on the council.
The second person was Stefanie Moreland, who has worked for the State of Alaska, as a fisheries aide to Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, and who now works for Trident Seafoods, the largest American fish processing company with headquarters in Seattle, and plants and offices in Alaska and around the globe.
The third person was Dr. Mark Fina, who for many years was a staff economist with the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council, but who now works for US Seafoods, owner of a number of vessels that harvest a range groundfish species, including flatfish with the Amendment 80 fleet.
Kenny Down is a long-time political supporter of Governor Inslee, has done fundraising for him, and has appeared in campaign ads. The building and launching of the F/V Blue North is a Washington business success story.
The industry had recommended both Moreland and Fina be also considered as candidates.
As the groups stated in the letter: “Of the seven private citizen seats on the North Pacific Council, five are held by individuals with longline fishing interests, including Mr. Down.”
The trawl industry has been significantly underrepresented on the council in recent years, and council decisions have had major economic impacts on trawl fishing.
The most recent Council Decision that shelved a broad-based plan for Gulf of Alaska trawl rationalization without addressing the complexities of the fleet meeting its bycatch targets was a particularly bitter example of the Council’s current thinking.
The reason the fishing industry groups are asking Commerce Secretary Ross to reject Inslee’s nomination letter is that the state failed to follow its own public processes.
After the deadline for nominations had closed, the governor’s staff removed the two trawl industry supported nominees, and substituted two other names, Dave Little (cod freezer longliner) and John Crowley (halibut longliner). Neither name had been advanced during the public nomination process.
Kenny Down is a qualified council member, yet the prospect of other strong nominees opened the possibility that lobbying in Washington could change the appointment outcome. A prior Washington state governor had his first choice for a council nominee overturned by the Secretary of Commerce.
It appears Governor Inslee was determined not to allow that to happen in this case. But in the process, claim the major fisheries groups, he violated the state’s public nominations process.
No one now expects that Stefanie Moreland or Mark Fina will get nominated. However, the groups hope the Commerce Secretary will return the nomination paper to the Governor with instructions to make new nominations that are representative of the broader industry.
This is a requirement of Magnuson-Stevens, and given the lack of members of the N. Pacific Council with trawl industry background, it is an appropriate question to raise.
Whether Secretary Ross will respond to the letter is not known.
Writing in the Seattle Times this morning, Hal Bernton said “As late as March 10, with the WDFW nominating period formally closed, Down, Moreland and Fina were all on the agency’s recommended list, and they were told to fill out the application materials for the governor’s office.
But five days later, when Inslee submitted his nominating letter to the Commerce Department, Moreland’s and Fina’s names were not on the governor’s list. Instead, two other longliners — John Crowley and David Little — were on the list along with the preferred candidate Downs.
Inslee’s March 15 letter stated that a broad range of constituents had been consulted on the nominations, listing one organization — the Alaska Crab Coalition — that hasn’t existed for years. And even though Moreland’s name was dropped, Inslee declared in the letter that a particular effort had been made to recruit a qualified woman candidate.”
In response to an inquiry from The Seattle Times, Tara Lee, an Inslee spokeswoman, said the list of three names provided by the Fish and Wildlife was a “draft,” not the full list, and there was additional “last-minute interest.”
“There were five candidates total…. We appreciate the input of the WDFW and stakeholder groups, but it is the governor’s prerogative to make the recommendation,” Lee wrote in a statement released to The Seattle Times.
The full letter to Secretary Ross is available here.
The Race To Fish Slows Down. Why That’s Good For Fish, Fishermen And Diners
NPR by Clare Leschin-Hoar – April 5, 2017
It doesn’t take more than a few episodes of the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch to get the idea that commercial fishing can be a career path rife with risk, making it one of the most dangerous occupations in the U.S.
BC Roe Herring Production Highest in Ten Years; Despite quota not Being Caught
SEAFOODNEWS.COM – April 7, 2017
A summary of the BC sac roe herring fishery shows that landings are close to the level of 2006, when over 25,000 tons were caught.
The total catch towards through March 20th was 22,400 tons, with harvest from BC’s Gulf region the largest in recent years.
Sac roe herring catch in British Columbia totaled 22,400 tons as of March 20, with that from the Gulf region registering the largest volume in recent years.
Total catch represented 72.6% of the 30,900 ton quota. This indicates, according to some Japanese buyers, a broad recovery in the herring stock from the low point of 2010.
But a source knowledgeable about the situation of the fishing grounds in the past points out that the scale of fish schools is quite different from previous years.
The response to sonars had been quite different. The sea surface leading to the fishing ground had been filled all over with herring, he noted.
Climate change is literally turning the Arctic ocean inside out
Washington Post by Chris Mooney – April 6, 2017
There’s something special — and very counterintuitive — about the Arctic Ocean.
Unlike in the Atlantic or Pacific, where the water gets colder as it gets deeper, the Arctic is upside-down. The water gets warmer as it gets deeper. The reason is that warm, salty Atlantic-originating water that flows into the Arctic from the south is more dense, and so it nestles beneath a colder, fresher surface layer that is often capped by floating sea ice. This state of “stratification” makes the Arctic Ocean unique, and it means that waters don’t simply grow colder as you travel farther north — they also become inverted.
NPFMC Shares Future of Electronic Monitoring Program with Fishermen
KMXT by Kayla Desroches – April 4, 2017
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is trying to figure out the best way to use video and camera technology for catch monitoring, and it’s on the brink of transitioning into a regulated program.
Bipartisan Alliance Formed to Address Marine Debris
Fishermen’s News – April 5, 2017
Bipartisan legislation to help address the marine debris crisis affecting America’s ocean shorelines and inland waterways has been introduced in the US Senate by Senators Cory Booker, D-NJ, Sheldon Whitehouse, D-RI and Dan Sullivan, R-AK.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Vessels Using Pot Gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 04/07/2017
NMFS is opening directed fishing for Pacific cod by vessels using pot gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to fully use the A season allowance of the 2017 total allowable catch apportioned to vessels using pot gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA.
Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Catcher/Processors Using Hook-and-Line Gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 04/07/2017
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher/processors using hook-and-line gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the A season allowance of the 2017 Pacific cod total allowable catch apportioned to catcher/processors using hook-and-line gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA.
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