Alaska/Pacific Coast

Alaska Fisheries Report
KMXT – December 10, 2015
Coming up this week, the Alaska Board of Fisheries says no thank you to stacking Bristol Bay permits, the only guy who seemed to know what was going on sometimes is retiring, and creating a new dog treat from what McDonald’s doesn’t put in its Fillet-o-Fish sandwiches, plus more, all coming up on the Alaska Fisheries Report. We had help from KDLG’s Molly Dishner reporting from Anchorage and Hannah Colton holding down the fort in Dillingham, KRBD’s Maria Dudzak in Ketchikan, KMXT’s Kayla Desroches in Kodiak and KDLL’s

N. Pacific Council Raises Pollock TACs by 2.34%, Flatfish Slightly Down, Cod Steady
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker  –  December 11, 2015
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council set 2016 pollock TACs at 1.341 million metric tons Thursday, up 30,643 metric tons from last year.  Pollock TAC in the Aleutian Islands and Bogoslof area increased from 19,100 metric tons to 19,500 for 2016.  This was less than the pollock increase recommended by the Advisory Panel, which was 1.374 million tons.

Pacific Cod catch limits dropped by 1,320mt to 238,680mt in the Bering Sea, but rose by almost 3,000mt in the Aleutian Islands to 12,839mt.

Arrowtooth flounder and northern rock sole were down slightly from last year, but much higher than what the Council’s Advisory Panel recommended.

Final catch limit for arrowtooth flounder was 14,000mt, down from last year’s 22,000mt.  This year’s actual catch was 11,005mt. The AP had recommended 2,000mt for arrowtooth, and took into consideration a desire to lower halibut bycatch.  Yellowfin sole, arrowtooth founder, and rock sole are among the top fisheries that catch the most halibut bycatch.

For northern rock sole, the AP recommended 35,000mt compared to last year’s 69,250mt.  The Council set the TAC at 57,100mt.

Flathead sole was set at 21,000mt, slightly under last year’s TAC of 24,250mt. Actual catch last year was 11,139mt.

The Council’s decisions are constrained by a statutory cap of 2 million metric tons out of the Bering Sea. So even though the fishable biomass of pollock is over 7 million metric tons, and the TAC could be higher, it must fit within a total ceiling for all groundfish of 2 million metric tons.

“The two million metric ton cap has been a very good umbrella for us to stay under,” said Craig Cross, the Council member who made the motion. “During the times we were in an Olympic fishery, it has helped to keep us from overharvesting. It’s been a good thing.

“I do believe that as this TAC sheet has become more utilized, more studies have gone on, and we learn more, that we should look at ways that we can better utilize that two million ton cap,” Cross said.

The traditional process of setting TACs at the NPFMC is for industry sectors to negotiate an agreed to level for each of 22 species in up to four areas. For Atka mackerel, for instance, there are TACs for the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands, Eastern Aleutians/Bering Sea, Central Aleutians, and Western Aleutians. Once the industry agrees, a single page is provided the Council for consideration.

This year the industry was too far apart to settle and the Council had two versions plus the Advisory Panel’s recommendations of the TAC worksheet before them. The resulting motion was closest to industry’s versions, and furthest away from the Advisory Panel.

Two Council members asked Cross why his numbers did not reflect concern about halibut bycatch. NOAA Fisheries Regional  Administrator Dr. Jim Balsiger asked him directly, “Why wouldn’t we want to take into account the halibut bycatch?”

Cross responded, “I think we do take into account all the bycatch, but not just halibut. I’d like to keep the TAC setting with what we’ve always done which is to take into account not only halibut, but crab and other species; we also have to take into account herring.”

Following the unanimous vote to accept Cross’ TAC levels, Council Member Duncan Fields moved for the Council to “continue to take into consideration groundish species halibut bycatch rates, the potential effects of groundfish harvest on directed halibut fisheries, and the health of the halibut resource.”

Field’s said it was important to recognize a “shared responsibility with the IPHC to maintain the viability of halibut commercial, sport, and peronsal use fisheries, and the communities dependent on them.”


To catch a fishing thief, SkyTruth uses data from the air, land and sea
The Guardian by Marc Gunther – November 24, 2015
The plucky nonprofit, whose founder’s once dismissed warnings about offshore drilling foretold the BP oil spill, enlists help from Google and Oceana to create a website for tracking illegal fishing

Obama spends billions abroad on climate change, little at home, Alaska aide says
Washington Examiner by Kyle Feldscher – December 9, 2015
An Alaskan senator is railing against President Obama’s pledges to help developing countries while using her state as a talking point.

Here’s How Much of Alaska’s Permafrost Could Melt
Climate Central by Andrea Thompson – December 8, 2015
Up to a quarter of the permafrost that lies just under the ground surface in Alaska could thaw by the end of the century, releasing long-trapped carbon that could make its way into the atmosphere and exacerbate global warming, a new study finds.

Current probability of near-surface permafrost in Alaska.
Click image to enlarge. Credit: Pastick, et al./Remote Sensing of Environment

The Pacific Ocean ‘blob’ is gone, but not its problems
Monterey Herald By Amy McDermott – December 9, 2015
MONTEREY – The “blob,” a warm patch of water in the northern Pacific Ocean associated with algal blooms and marine die-offs, is gone. But that doesn’t mean the associated wildlife problems will go with it, scientists say.


How To Turn A Can Of Salmon Into An Exciting, Affordable Meal
Montana Public Radio by The Food Guys – November 29, 2015
If a can of salmon or tuna is applying for squatter’s rights in your cupboard because of the “BORING” cartoon bubble hovering above it, Food Guys Jon Jackson and Greg Patent have some suggestions.

Storis Film Screens at Anchorage Film Fest Sunday
KMXT by Jay Barrett – December 4, 2015
Though the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Storis was broken up for scrap in a Mexican wrecking yard several years ago, the former “Queen of the Fleet,” which was based in Alaska for 50 years, will return to the state on Sunday – at the Anchorage International Film Festival.

A day in the life of: Alaska’s fishery photographer, Chris Miller
Capital City Weekly by Mary Catharine Martin – December 9, 2015
Fishermen pick fish. Pollock gasp for air. A lobster trap rises to the light-filled sea surface like a treasure chest long-hidden.

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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December 11, 2015