User conflicts over halibut, salmon on horizon for 2016
Alaska Journal of Commerce by DJ Summers – December 22, 2015
Setnetters in Cook Inlet are still awaiting a ruling from the Alaska Supreme Court deciding whether an initiative that would ban their gear from Kenai Peninsula beaches will be allowed to reach the ballot. If the Supreme Court sides with the initiative backers it will be on the August primary ballot.
IN BRIEF – NOAA awards funding for research projects to study climate impacts on fish and fisheries
Fis.com – December 23, 2015
Following release of the NOAA Fisheries Climate Science Strategy, today the agency announced USD 5 million in new research funding to study the impacts of climate change on fish and fisheries of the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem. The funds, which will be distributed over the next two-three years, will support seven new projects designed to increase our understanding of how climate change can affect fish stocks, fisheries, and the communities that depend on them for their livelihood.
Labeling and Marketing
Feds: Fish caught in Russia and processed in China can no longer be called ‘Alaskan’
Business Journal by Steve Wilhelm – December 23, 2015
Would you buy a Russian fish processed in China?
Leaders of Seattle’s billion-dollar pollock fishing industry think consumers’ answer is no. That’s why industry leaders are excited about a new federal law that restricts the name “Alaska Pollock” to fish actually caught in Alaskan waters.
IN BRIEF – Natural Grocers Won’t Sell GM Salmon
Fis.com – December 22, 2015
Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage has joined the ranks of retailers that won’t sell genetically modified (GM) salmon or any product made from GM salmon. The Lakewood, Colo.-based company’s decision comes in the wake of the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the sale of GM salmon to U.S. consumers without any labeling requirements.
Pacific Fishery Management Council’s Longtime Executive Director Don McIsaac Announces Retirement
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Susan Chambers – December 23, 2015
Pacific Fishery Management Council Executive Director Don McIsaac has seen the West Coast endure some of the most trying fisheries changes in the past 15 years and as of April 1, 2016, he’s moving on.
“I don’t particularly like the word ‘retire,’” he said candidly. “It sounds like a rocking chair.”
McIsaac notified Council members, staff and advisory bodies in an email on Dec. 19, noting that he will continue working half-time after April 2016 to help smooth the transition to a new director. He said during that time he will focus on the recruitment and hiring process for a new director, help achieve the funding needs of the Council and mentor Council staff and the new director. The Council will form a search committee with the goal of having a new director selected by September 2016.
Council Chairwoman Dorothy Lowman said he leaves big shoes to fill.
“He’s been a very positive leader,” she said. “Through his tenure, he has brought together staff that is very strong and supports the Council well. He’s been tireless in his dedication to the Council and Council process and making sure we have the resources to do good Council policy.”
McIsaac noted his arrival to the director position came in February 2000, when rockfish science was changing, and scientists realized that rockfish were not as productive as once thought. A number of groundfish species were listed as overfished and rebuilding plans had to be established in short order. Ensuing lawsuits added to the drama of the groundfish crisis. “It was quite a ruckus,” he said. Since then, a number of species have rebounded.
The crises didn’t end with groundfish, as the collapse of the salmon runs on the Sacramento River and problems on the Klamath River resulted in severe restrictions or complete closures of the salmon fisheries in Oregon and California for a few years in the 2000s. McIsaac said the situation was unique in that not only were the environmental conditions were responsible – freshwater habitat issues and a sour ocean – but that they were put in the proper context.
Overfishing was clearly not the problem with salmon. Ultimately, the fish returned.
“It’s been gratifying to see the salmon come back and show some strong years,” he said. “We’ve had some enormous runs on the Columbia River. Give these fish a chance with some good management decision-making and you’re going to do just fine.”
Lowman said McIsaac never had any problems making the hard decisions when the time came. McIsaac counters that with kudos to the Council members for making difficult decisions, such as with the sardine fishery this year. “It’s gratifying to see the Council do the right thing when the sardines fell off the table faster than we thought,” he said. “We took emergency action by asking the scientists and then closing (the fishery).”
McIsaac came to the Council by way of the Washington Department of Fisheries and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. The early years of being a field biologist — “wearing hip boots and playing with fish,” he says with a laugh – meant catching and tagging salmon and sturgeon, floating down rivers and counting salmon during spawning season. That led to the statistical fun of making run size forecasts, which then led to management- and policy-oriented things. “It became naturally interesting. You wonder where all that data is going and for what purpose,” he said.
The Pacific Council will see a lot of change in 2016. Along with the transition to a new director, the Council chairmanship will change and a handful of influential industry and management leaders who have endured some of the ups and downs of the last couple decades also plan to retire or move on.
McIsaac said if he had any insight to the future, it’s that the forecast is good, at least when it comes to Council policy and management. “We have an exceptionally strong Council staff. They’ve proven themselves to handle things as they come up. The Council members around the front table – some of them past Groundfish Management Team members – are well-qualified to handle anything.” He noted the expertise of the advisory bodies also are an integral part of the Council process.
The only unknown, he said, is the fish. “There is some negative forecast with climate, but there will always be something that comes up. Who knows what the fish will do, what Mother Nature will do. But the Pacific Council will do just fine.”
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