Alaska/Pacific Coast

#AskForAlaska on first-ever Alaska Wild Salmon Day
Alaska honors salmon with holiday, hashtag
Juneau Empire by Sam DeGrave – August 10, 2016
Never before have salmon been so appreciated — not with a hashtag, anyway.

Wrangell pipe break causes 20,000-gallon sewage spill into harbor
Alaska Dispatch New by Chris Klint – August 9, 2016
Thousands of gallons of raw sewage were discharged into Wrangell’s harbor Monday during repairs to a broken sewer main in the Southeast Alaska city.

‘Grim’ Fraser River salmon runs even worse than forecast
Vancouver Sun by Gordon Hoekstra – August 8, 2016
This year’s Fraser River sockeye return, already forecast to be below average, has turned out to be even worse. One First Nation leader described the return as going from poor to grim.

Set-netters get emergency opener
KBBI by Jenny Neyman – August 9, 2016
Commercial sockeye fishing in upper Cook Inlet will be decided on a day-by-day basis from here until the end of the season.

Prince William Sound’s Pink Run is Odd in an Even Year
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – August 9, 2016
Everyone knows that even numbered years produce smaller runs of pink salmon in Prince William Sound than odd numbered years, but this year’s run is exceptionally odd even for an even year.

David Reggiani, general manager of the sound’s regional hatchery association, Prince Wiliam Sound Aquaculture Corporation, is struggling with undeniable aspects of this run that he’s not seen in 28 years of observing pink returns.

“Typically, the run starts out with a percentage of female pink salmon at around 10%. Then it goes up to 20% in 4-5 days, 30-35% in another 4-5 days, and at the peak of the run is up around 60%,” he explains. “You can plot a regression and determine from the female percentage where you are in the run.

“This year the female percentage started very high and climbed very fast. Instead of increments of 4-5 days, this year it was single days.

“If we look at historical timing, we should see about 20% females in the run now, but we’ve seen as high as 49% already and have been bouncing around between 43% and 49% since the beginning.”

Those percentages should be seen close to the peak of the run when volumes are highest. Instead they’re happening when volumes are closer to the first third of the run.

Prince William Sound’s harvest of pinks through last week was 8.8 million, well below the ten-year average of 12 million for this date.

Regianni knew that salmon returns around the state were late this year, and wasn’t suprised to see a lag in timing in the sound.

“We saw a run increase in our own abundance return today,” he said on Monday. “So we should see signficant increase in fish in the next 4-5 days. If we don’t see that, then the writing is on the wall that we will have a lower than expected return this year.”

Regianni reached out to his colleagues around the state and at the other hatchery in PWS, Solomon Gulch. Pink returns there, which are timed for early summer, and in Kodiak, also earlier, had very high percentages of females from the start.

“Kodiak had 50% females from the beginning, and they were five-pound fish,” Regianni says. “Cook Inlet’s pinks were also 5 pounds average. We’re looking at larger than normal here, but in Prince William Sound it’s about 4.4 pounds.”

“We’ve never seen this high of female percentage and this lack of volume in the history of PWSAC,” Regianni says. “The female percentages could give us a false reading on the timing, but typically you can take those percentages to the bank, so this anomaly has really got everybody concerned.

“We’re taking a very caution approch to broodstock collection, recovery needs, and the common property fishery,” Regianni says.

PWSAC’s first job is to ensure enough broodstock returns to the hatchery for future runs. Another way to say it is to protect the hatchery’s escapement. Their second priority, as a non-profit regional hatchery, is to recover their operational costs. They do this by hiring a few commercial seiners to harvest the pinks near the facility and sell them to local processors. Those receipts, after overhead, are dedicated to PWSAC’s operational costs.

The third priority, but the most important for the 270 permit holders waiting for the run every year, is to provide pink salmon for the common property fishery (CPF), fleets mostly from Cordova, Valdez, and Whittier, but others from more distant Alaskan ports.

The pressure on hatchery operators is intense during a normal return to make sure these goals are all met, and in the right order. Reggiani worried that the heavy rain storm that hit the sound Sunday would delay pink salmon return even more because of the high volume of fresh water running into the Sound.

The low odd-year pink return was one of the reasons Alaska’s first salmon ranching operation began in Prince William Sound in the 1970’s.

“The whole idea was to take those eggs out of the harsh environment of the wild streams and put them into a controlled environment,” he says.

“The survival of pink salmon from fertilized egg to outmigrating smolt in a natural environment is 60-70%, at best,” Reggiani says. “We get 92% survival from egg to smolt.”

The five hatcheries operated by the PWSAC provide pink, chum, and sockeye salmon for commercial, recreational, and subsistence fisheries and for people who live near, work in, or visit the Sound.

Federal Register

Notice of Availability of a Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment for Fisheries and Ecosystem Research Conducted and Funded by the National Marine Fisheries Service, Alaska Fisheries Science Center
A Notice by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 08/10/2016
NMFS announces the availability of the “Draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment (DPEA) for Fisheries and Ecosystem Research Conducted and Funded by the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC).” Publication of this notice begins the official public comment period for this DPEA. The purpose of the DPEA is to evaluate, in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the potential direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts of conducting and funding fisheries and ecosystem research in the North Pacific Ocean and the marine waters off of Alaska.


Whale sculpture arrives in Juneau, fins to come Tuesday
KTOO by Tripp J Crouse – August 8, 2016
The life-size, bronze humpback whale sculpture came in by ferry early Monday morning. Sculptor R.T. “Skip” Wallen and about 20 people weathered a light drizzle to welcome the whale at Auke Bay.

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Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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August 10, 2016