Alaska/Pacific Coast

Pollock, salmon catchers clash over bycatch

The Bristol Bay Times by Jim Paulin – December 19, 2014

Severe declines closed chinook salmon fishing on the Yukon River this year, and further steps to keep the big fish out of Bering Sea trawl nets are under consideration by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council.

The pollock B season dates could be shortened, with early potential ending dates of Sept. 15, Oct. 1 or Oct. 15. The season now remains open until November, although many boats stop fishing earlier. Changing the dates is among the options the fish council decided to review next year, at its meeting last week in Anchorage.

Yukon River fishermen from both the U.S. and Canada told the council of their hardships, and requested stronger action against the trawlers.


Walker heartened by recent pollock numbers

The Bristol Bay Times by Jim Paulin – December 19, 2014

Pollock, cod and nearly all the groundfish quotas have increased in the Bering Sea, and that’s a welcome relief to Alaska’s new governor, Bill Walker, who dropped in at the North Pacific Fishery Management Council last week, and introduced himself.

Oil prices have plummeted in recent weeks, and the state now faces a fiscal crisis, something that was “not part of the campaign plan, quite honestly.” And that boosts the importance of seafood to the state’s economy, Walker told the federal fisheries regulators at the Anchorage Hilton.

Proposed bill could overturn recent favorable Anti-Dumping and CVD shrimp decisions

SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Michael Ramsingh – December 19, 2014

A bill proposed before Congress could have wide-ranging affects on antidumping and countervailing trade regulations. This includes the possibility of tightening laws that would impact shrimp and other seafood import tariffs.

The Leveling the Playing Field Act was introduced last week by Democratic Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown. The legislation was proposed as a way to improve the US’s ability to crack down on “unfair foreign competition resulting from violations of trade law,” a press release from Brown’s office said.

“There are encouraging signs of a comeback in American manufacturing, but that progress could be lost if we don’t have strong trade laws to level the playing field,” said Brown. “Foreign companies who don’t play by the rules are actively trying to undermine the effectiveness of our trade laws. This bill would restore strength to our trade laws and ensure that American companies can compete in a fair marketplace.”

According to the proposal, the Act would take several steps to strengthen US antidumping and countervailing duty statutes.

Highlights of the bill include:

–Maintains Commerce’s discretion to use adverse facts available when a mandatory respondent does not cooperate with an investigation and clarifies that the agency is not obligated to determine what a margin would be if the respondent had participated.   (From an importers standpoint “adverse facts’ is one of the most dangerous tools in an investigation, because it frees the agency from using actual sources in certain cases, and allows them to construct whatever margin scenario will support their conclusions.   In the seafood industry, the domestic shrimp lawyers have pushed the DOC to use adverse facts whenever an overseas company fails to understand or comply with an information request.)

–Increases the number of factors and the length of time the ITC should use to evaluate injury or the threat of injury to U.S. producers to ensure a determination is based on a comprehensive assessment of a sector’s situation.  (Again, in terms of the shrimp industry, one of the reasons the latest attempt at shrimp counterveiling duties was thrown out two years ago was that the plaintiffs could not prove any injury in the time period under review.)

–Closes the “new shipper” loophole used by companies to circumvent AD/CVD duties; Increases penalties for failure to provide a country of origin certificate for merchandise covered under AD/CVD orders or for falsifying the information on the certificate

–Clarifies that Commerce has the authority to determine whether to include voluntary respondents in an investigation

–Clarifies that Commerce does not have to conduct an additional investigation to prove that disregarded product values used in non-market economy investigations are subsidized or dumped if the record already shows the product values to be distorted

–Clarifies existing statutory provisions used to assess whether a country’s non-market economy status should be maintained.

Brown’s proposal is targeted to help manufactures outside of the seafood sector. His office specifically mentions Ohion-based companies Allied Tube in Hebron, Byer Steel in Cincinnati, JMC in Warren, New Page in Miamisburg, and TMK Ipsco in Brookfield.

But the bill was endorsed by the American Shrimp Processors Association (ASPA) as a means to help domestic shrimp producers.

“The Leveling the Playing Field Act will ensure that American companies have the resources necessary to combat unfair foreign trade practices,” said Dr. David Veal, director for the association. “Dumped and subsidized shrimp imports have seized market share, driven down prices and repeatedly thrown our industry into crisis.”

According to Trade Attorney Warren Connelly of the law firm of Akin, Gump, Straus Hauer and Feld, since the bill was introduced with Congress already adjourned it will be introduced next year where it is likely to receive attention.

If approved, the measure could tighten tariff laws for shrimp producers and American seafood importers, making them more susceptible to attack by domestic interests through use of anti-dumping and counterveiling duty laws.  Currently domestic headless shell on Gulf shrimp is commanding a nearly $3 premium over imported HLSO white shrimp.  Instead of seeing that as a sign of market success, if this bill were to become law it would likely mean another round of shrimp anti-dumping charges from domestic producers.


UPDATE 1-Parts of Pacific Ocean close to El Nino thresholds – Australia weather bureau

Reuters by Colin Packham, December 16, 2014

SYDNEY, Dec 16 (Reuters) – Surface temperatures of the equatorial Pacific Ocean have exceeded El Nino thresholds for several weeks and there is a greater than 70 percent chance of the weather pattern emerging, the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) said on Tuesday.

The BOM had earlier projected at least a 70 percent chance of El Nino arriving by February 2015. The weather event occurs every four to 12 years and can trigger drought in some parts of the world while causing flooding in others.


Drifting pole nudges Fairbanks closer to magnetic north

News Minder by Sam Friedman – December 21, 2014

The WWM is generated by the (U.S.) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the British Geological Survey

A map from the World Magnetic Model shows the magnetic declination, the difference between magnetic and geographic north. The red contours indicate a positive (east) declination and the blue lines indicate a negative (west) declination; the declination is zero along the green line.

FAIRBANKS — It might be time for Alaskans to start turning the compass a bit less to account for planet Earth’s wandering magnetic poles.

A five-year update to a magnetic model released Monday shows the north magnetic pole is continuing its inconsistent drift westward toward Siberia. The model, calculated by the U.S. and British governments, is used for technology such as military fighter jets and consumer smartphones.

Arctic warming supported by array of scientific indicators

Alaska Dispatch News by Ned Rozell – December 21, 2014

In 2014, a team of scientists headed to the Arctic Ocean to observe and document a massive plankton bloom that had formed under the sea ice. Courtesy Amanda Kowalski

SAN FRANCISCO — At an annual gathering of more than 20,000 Earth and space scientists, press conferences offered by the organizers feature scientists discussing everything from Mars rovers whiffing methane to Christmas lights visible from space. One press conference that has for a few years had a recurring slot at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union is the state of changes in the Far North.


America’s first offshore wind project hit with waves of controversy by Hillary Vaughn – December 18, 2014

America’s first-ever offshore wind farm is going over-budget before construction even begins, critics say.

The $2.6 billion Cape Wind project, a private project benefiting from millions in federal subsidies, plans to pioneer offshore wind energy in pursuit of an eco-friendly, sustainable energy supply. Wind turbines typically seen onshore will be installed offshore on the coast of Cape Cod in Nantucket Sound.

But before Cape Wind can be built, a marine terminal first must be constructed to hold the turbines. And the cost of this separate project, funded by taxpayers in Massachusetts, has shot up by $10 million – estimated to cost state taxpayers, so far, $113 million for the terminal alone.

Alaska Non-Profit Educates Fishermen on the Power of Ergonomics by Quinton Chandler – December 17, 2014

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

That word ergonomics can be hard to get your head around.

“It sounds like economics or something that doesn’t affect people so much. It’s hard to understand,” says Dugan.

AMSEA’s Executive Director Jerry Dugan says they had to come up with a more intuitive name for their workshops. They title the sessions: Strains, Sprains, and Pains. Three things Dugan says fishermen understand all too well. The leading cause of injuries to fishermen are musculoskeletal disorders; tendonitis, carpal tunnel, strains, and sprains that affect the back, elbow, wrist, hands, and shoulders, and the fishermen’s fund data backs that up,” says Dugan.

Dugan says the Alaska Fishermen’s Fund has reported almost 40% of fishermen’s injuries as musculoskeletal for decades. Homer Resident Chris Lopez says these injuries tend to develop from many small injuries that fester slowly over weeks, months, or even years of back breaking work.

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association

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December 22, 2014