Alaska/Pacific Coast

Factory trawlers praised for halibut conservation
Bristol Bay Times by Jim Paulin – December 26, 2015
What a difference a year makes for the halibut bycatch controversy in the Bering Sea at the December meetings of the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in Anchorage. The flatfish factory trawlers, vilified for much of this year, reported vigorous and voluntary efforts at halibut conservation, and even received praise from the Pribilofs. Their zeal was prompted by what might be termed resolution number two-by-four of the fish council last summer, which slashed halibut bycatch by 25 percent.

Pollock climbs, sablefish drops
Deckboss – December 26, 2015
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council has set the 2016 total allowable catch (TAC) for Alaska groundfish. Here are the TACs for key species and the percent change from 2015.

Governor Walker on Budget Plan, Revenue Sharing, and Public Radio  
KMXT by Kayla Desroches – December 23, 2015
Governor Bill Walker dropped by KMXT on Monday between presenting his budget proposal to the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly and Kodiak City Council and attending a reception on Near Island. We took the opportunity to ask him about some topics he didn’t get to earlier in the day.

West Coast Dungeness Fishermen and Processors Agree to $2.90 Opening Price, Lower Than Last Year
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Newport News Times and SeafoodNews] by Dennis Anstine – December 28, 2015
Fishermen and processors agreed Dec. 22 on an opening price of $2.90 for Dungeness crab — 20 cents less than last year — due primarily to the detection of domoic acid in the crustacean that delayed the season for more than a month,

Fishermen will begin dropping their crab pots at 8 a.m. on New Year’s Day, and start hauling them aboard their vessels at 9 a.m. on Jan. 4. The season was scheduled to begin on Dec. 1.

At the retail level, Susan Chambers reports Dungeness crab meat prices at local markets around Oregon at $30 per pound, primarily for picked meat from frozen sections. – MBR


New regs for Tuesday: Imports, small banks and commercial fishing
The Hill by Lydia Wheeler – December 28, 2015
Tuesday’s edition of the Federal Register contains new rules from the Department of Energy for importing covered products that are subject to energy conservation standards, adjustments to the asset-size thresholds used to define small banks from the Treasury and a new rule from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that creates a single size standard for small commercial fishing businesses.

Read more…
Establish a Single Small Business Size Standard for Commercial Fishing Businesses

A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 12/29/2015
NMFS issues this final rule to establish a small business size standard of $11 million in annual gross receipts for all businesses in the commercial fishing industry (NAICS 11411), for Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA) compliance purposes only.

Ray Hilborn Says Chefs Were Wrong Telling NYTimes About Poor Shrimp, Tuna, Cod and Salmon Management
SEAFOODNEWS.COM – December 29, 2015
Following a comment posted by Ray Hilborn, a reknowned fisheries scientists and a Professor in the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences at the University of Washington to his fishery blog

Hiborn’s comment is a resposne to a New York Times article we published last week (Diversifying Menus to Include Unfamiliar Fish Can Be Profitable – by Jeff Gordinier) that discusses the rising trend of underutlized species featured among New York City fine dining menus.

Even though the Times article aimed to show the positive trend of chefs introducing consumers to alternative fish species, Hilborn says chefs interviewed in the article describe irresponsible management techniques and incorrectly attribute them to more commonly consumed fish species, specifically salmon, tuna, shrimp and cod.

Here is Professor Hilborn’s full comment on the matter:

While I applaud the desire to eat underutilized species, it seems as if the chefs interviewed don’t know much about sustainable seafood. Below are a few quotes from the article that give the impression that eating traditional species such as tuna, cod, salmon and shrimp is an environmental crime:

“Salmon, tuna, shrimp and cod, much of it endangered and the product of dubious (if not destructive) fishing practices”

“The chef Molly Mitchell, can’t imagine serving industrially harvested tuna or salmon or cod. “You can’t really eat that stuff anymore,” she said. “It’s destroying the environment.”

“Flying them halfway around the world may not count as an ecofriendly gesture, but these oceanic oddities are a far cry from being decimated the way cod has. “Hopefully they’ll try something new and not just those fishes that are overfarmed and overcaught,” said Jenni Hwang, director of marketing for the Chaya Restaurant Group.”

“A growing cadre of chefs, restaurateurs and fishmongers in New York and around the country is taking on the mission of selling wild and local fish whose populations are not threatened with extinction.”

A well educated chef should know that there are plenty of salmon, shrimp, tuna and cod that are healthy, sustainably managed, and either certified by the Marine Stewardship Council or on the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch list as best choice or good alternative. There is no reason not to eat these species so long as you know where the salmon, shrimp, tuna or cod comes from.

Second, none of these species is in any way threatened with extinction – some individual stocks may be overfished, but no commercially important species has ever gone extinct or even come close to it. We all hear about the poor state of Gulf of Maine cod but perhaps these Chef’s don’t know that the Barents Sea cod stock is at record abundance levels (4 million tons compared to Gulf of Maine’s estimated 2,500 tons). So the global marketplace for Atlantic cod is going to have a million tons of Barents Sea cod, and less than one thousand tons of Gulf of Maine cod.

Alaska produces hundreds of thousands of tons of sustainable wild salmon — that is both MSC certified and on the Seafood Watch best choice list. Why can’t these Chef’s serve that salmon?

So it is fine for these Chef’s to brag about how sustainable they are (even if they do fly fish half way around the world with a large carbon footprint), but they should know, and advise their customers that there is plenty of sustainable salmon, shrimp, tuna and cod to be served.


US Arctic Policy Leader to Speak at AMSS
Fishermen’s News – December 23, 2015
Mark Brzezinski, executive director of the federal government’s Arctic executive Steering Committee, heads the line-up of keynote speakers for the annual Alaska Marine Science Symposium, coming up Jan. 25-28 in Anchorage.

Not your mother’s fish sticks: OSU Seafood Lab focuses on production, quality, safety
The Daily Astorian by Edward Stratton – December 23, 2015
Seafood experts research under the radar in Astoria.
Unknown to many locals, Astoria is home to the only dedicated seafood experiment center on the West Coast. Oregon State University’s Seafood Research and Education Center — the OSU Seafood Lab — is located in a wood-shingled academic hall on Marine Drive. The center, which held an open house Monday, focuses on how to improve the ocean’s bounty.

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off of Alaska; Observer Coverage Requirements for Small Catcher/Processors in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Groundfish Fisheries
A Proposed Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 12/29/2015
NMFS proposes regulations that would implement Amendment 112 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI FMP) and Amendment 102 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA FMP) and revise regulations for observer coverage requirements for certain small catcher/processors in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA) and Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (BSAI). If approved, this proposed rule would modify the criteria for NMFS to place small catcher/processors in the partial observer coverage category under the North Pacific Groundfish and Halibut Observer Program (Observer Program).

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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December 29, 2015