Alaska/Pacific Coast

Commission supports Manokotak, Dillingham annexations
Bristol Bay Times by Molly Dischner – December 9, 2016
After days of testimony from those involved, the state’s local boundary commission decided to support Manokotak and Dillingham’s efforts to annex the fishing grounds.
http://www.thebristolbaytimes.com/article/1649commission_supports_manokotak_dillingham

Pollock TAC Basically Unchanged in Bering Sea for 2017, Despite Huge increase in Biomass
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker and John Sackton – December 12, 2016
Despite the big increase in Alaska pollock biomass and allowable catch, the industry negotiations and the North Pacific Council Recommendations this year were for an insignificant 5000 metric ton increase in BSAI pollock. At the December meeting that ends tomorrow, the North Pacific Fishery Mangement Council added 5,000 mt to the pollock total allowable catch (TAC) for 2017 and 2018.

With a total catch limit in the entire Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands of 2 million metric tons, the pollock TAC was far below an Allowable Biological Catch of 2.8 million in 2017 and nearly 3 million projected for 2018. Besides pollock, there are 21 other species or species complex harvested from the area.

As can be seen in our summary, (click here for larger version) there were reductions in rock sole, flathead, and plaice, which were balanced with an increase in Atka mackerel and yellowfin sole.

Pacific cod TACs are down nearly 15,000 tons, or about 6.5%.  The 2017 TAC is 223,704 metric tons compared to 2016’s TAC of 238,680 mt and catch as of a month ago at 210,110 mt.

Other changes in the suite of catch specifications include an increase of 10,000 mt for yellowfin sole, from 144,000 mt to 154,000 mt.

Greenland turbot’s TAC rose from 2,874mt to 4,500mt for both 2017 and 2018.  The turbot market continues to be very strong based on insatiable demand from China and Korea.

Also going up significantly is Pacific Ocean perch, rising from 31,900 in the BSAI to 34,900 mt.

Arrowtooth flounder, Kamchatka flounder and “other flatfish” stayed the same at 14,000mt, 5,000mt, and 2,500mt respectively. But Northern rock sole, flathead sole, and Alaska plaice decreased by 10,000mt, 7,000mt, and 1,500 mt respectively.  The 2017 TAC for Northern rock sole is 47,1090mt, for flathead sole 14,500mt, and for Alaska plaice 13,000mt.

Atka mackerel TACs were increased from 55,000mt this year to 65,000mt for 2017 and 2018.

In the Gulf of Alaska, pollock TACs were reduced to 198,675mt in 2017 and further cut to 153,559mt in 2018. This year’s TAC was 247,952mt, with catches at 172,927 as of Nov. 5.

Pacific cod saw slight decreases in TAC as well. This year’s TAC of 71,925mt will drop to 64,442mt in 2017 and 57,825mt in 2018.

Sablefish TAC in the Gulf is slightly up to 10.074mt. Flatfish TACs remain on par with this year.

With pollock prices weak, there was little push in the industry for a larger share of the TAC this year, as some product forms continue to be oversupplied.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1043882/Pollock-TAC-Basically-Unchanged-in-Bering-Sea-for-2017-Despite-Huge-increase-in-Biomass

2017 Sitka Herring Forecast Same as 2016
SEAFOODNEWS.COM – December 13, 2016
Sitka–The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the guideline harvest level (GHL) for the 2017 Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery is 14,649 metric tons. That is nearly identical to last year’s GHL of 14,700mt, only 10,000mt of which was landed.

Fish and Game bases the 2017 GHL on a 20% harvest rate of a forecast mature biomass of 73,245mt.

The forecast indicates that the mature biomass in 2017 will consist of mostly (73 percent) age 5, 6% age-3, 6% age-4, 2% age-6, 6% age-7, and 7% age-8+. This forecast uses spring commercial purse seine weights at age from last year’s fishery and the average weights were as follows: age-3, 64 grams; age-4, 95 grams; age- 5, 104 grams; age-6, 132 grams; age-7, 149 grams; and age-8+, 178 grams.

The forecast will not be updated with winter test fishery weights as has been done in previous years, to save on costs associated with processing winter test samples and staff time developing and reporting an updated forecast and GHL. The accuracy of the forecast is not expected to be impacted significantly by not updating the model with the winter test fishery weights at age due to the relatively small variability seen in weight at age.

To forecast biomass, the department uses an age-structured assessment model with a long time series of egg abundance, and age composition data from department surveys conducted during and following the spring fishery. Herring egg abundance is estimated using aerial surveys, designed to map the length of shoreline receiving spawn, and dive surveys, which are used to estimate the density of eggs and average width of the spawn.

The department mapped 63.3 nautical miles of herring spawn in the Sitka Sound area during the spring of 2016, compared to the recent 10-year average of 65.0 nautical miles. The estimated post-fishery spawning biomass in 2016 was 74,676 tons, the total sac roe harvest was 9,833 tons, and an additional 223 tons were harvested in personal use and test fisheries. Estimated age composition of spawning herring in 2016 was 2% age-3, 79% age-4, 2% age-5, 8% age-6, 1% age-7, and 8% age-8+.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1043964/2017-Sitka-Herring-Forecast-Same-as-2016

 

Environment/Science

Scientists Improve Predictions of How Temperature Affects Fish Embryo Survival
The Fish Site – December 12, 2016
US – Scientists closely tracking the survival of endangered Sacramento River salmon faced a puzzle: the same high temperatures that salmon eggs survived in the laboratory appeared to kill many of the eggs in the river.
http://www.thefishsite.com/fishnews/28547/scientists-improve-predictions-of-how-temperature-affects-fish-embryo-survival

Northern Sockeye Salmon Found to Manage Heat Stress
The Fish Site – December 9, 2016
US – Sockeye salmon that evolved in the generally colder waters of the far north still know how to cool off if necessary, an important factor in the species’ potential for dealing with global climate change.
http://www.thefishsite.com/fishnews/28552/northern-sockeye-salmon-found-to-manage-heat-stress/

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; North Pacific Halibut and Sablefish Individual Fishing Quota Cost Recovery Programs
A Notice by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 12/13/2016
NMFS publishes the individual fishing quota (IFQ) standard prices and fee percentage for cost recovery for the IFQ Program for the halibut and sablefish fisheries of the North Pacific (IFQ Program). The fee percentage for 2016 is 3.0 percent. This action is intended to provide holders of halibut and sablefish IFQ permits with the 2016 standard prices and fee percentage to calculate the required payment for IFQ cost recovery fees due by January 31, 2017.
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/12/13/2016-29879/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-north-pacific-halibut-and-sablefish-individual

FYI’s

Seafood Harvesters of America Appoints New Exec Director
SEAFOODNEWS.COM – December 12, 2016
The Seafood Harvesters of America announced today that they have hired Kevin Wheeler, of Arlington, VA, as their executive director.

Kevin comes to the Seafood Harvesters after serving ten years as Vice President and Director of Public Affairs at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, where he was responsible for developing, advocating for and implementing ocean research priorities on behalf of more than 100 of the nation’s leading ocean research and educational institutions.  In that role he served as primary liaison between the ocean science community and Congress, the executive branch, federal agencies and non-governmental organizations. He and his staff also led advocacy coalitions in support of budgets for federal agencies including NSF, NOAA and DOD.

Formerly, Kevin was the Director of Federal Relations for Brown University; worked on the Science Committee for the U.S. House of Representatives; served as the Special Assistant to the Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; and also worked on Capitol Hill as Press Secretary and Legislative Assistant to former Congressman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY).

“Our organization is at an exciting growth stage and we really wanted to get this hire right,” said Seafood Harvesters’ President Christopher Brown. “Kevin is extremely well prepared to take our members to a new level of engagement and influence at the federal level.  His management experience, his Capitol Hill committee and staff work, and his years at Ocean Leadership are great preparation, and we could not be happier about welcoming him on board.”

“I am truly honored to have been chosen to lead and provide a unified voice for the Seafood Harvesters at this most critical time, given the political transition occurring in Washington coupled with a rapidly changing ocean environment,” said Wheeler.  “Together we will champion accountability, responsibility and innovation throughout our industry to ensure that future generations will have healthy, robust and sustainable fisheries to harvest.”

Kevin holds advanced degrees in Environmental Management and Public Administration from Duke and Binghamton Universities respectively. Kevin and his wife Marina reside in Arlington Virginia where they are raising their children Nikolai and Ekaterina.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1043826/Seafood-Harvesters-of-America-Appoints-New-Exec-Director

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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December 13, 2016