Alaska/Pacific Coast

Bristol Bay fishermen weigh in on Area M changes
KDLG by Molly Dischner – February 11, 2016
Local fishermen say several proposals up for discussion at the state Board of Fisheries’ Alaska Peninsula, Aleutian Island and Chignik meeting this month could affect the sockeye that return to Bristol Bay.

Fed Budget Includes $65 Million for Salmon Recovery
Fishermen’s News – February 10, 2016
The Obama administration’s proposed fiscal year 2017 budget announced Feb. 9 includes $65 million for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund.

Washington Dungeness Landings 23% Higher than Last Year
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – February 11, 2016
The season may have been delayed a month for Washington’s Dungeness crab fleet, but landings to date are 2.3 million pounds more than last year at this time.

Total commercial and tribal landings have reached 10,307,061 lbs. compared to 7,970,771 lbs. this time last year.  This year, non-tribal landings are about  86 percent of the total. Last year they were about 82 percent.

Dan Ayers, Washington State Coastal Shellfish Manager, says because of the five-week delay opening the season, the crab have filled out completely after their fall molt.

“The late start allowed crab to really fill in well, so the crab are of especially high quality and very heavy — or full of meat” Ayers says. “we’ve heard that from fishers, buyers and even from retail consumers.”

Washington’s season got underway January 4, 2016 rather than December 1, 2015. It will continue through September, although historically most landings are made in January and February.

“We are closely tracking levels harmful algae in coastal waters and can report the bloom from last spring and summer has completely dissipated,” said Ayers. “There is no harmful alga species present in any areas – and as a result there is no domoic acid in Washington waters.”

Recent tests from the Washington Department of Health show no domoic acid at all, a technical result of “NTD” or nothing to detect.

The season started with rough weather off the coast of Washington. “We’ve had some tough ocean conditions last month that has affected some of the fleet, but our landing records show that the larger boats continued fishing except for a few days with 20 foot seas,” Ayers said. “It’s a winter fishery and the fleet is used to dealing with that.”

Total participants in this year’s fishery are 175 compared to last year’s 183.

If landings continue along historical trends, the 2016 fishery could result in the highest landings since 2013 when non-treaty catch was just under 14 million pounds.

Northern Economics Says Alaska Economy Will Enter Recession in 2016
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – February 9, 2016
At an Alaska World Trade Center luncheon last week Marcus Hartley, President of Northern Economics, said the state’s economy would enter recession in 2016.

That generally means negative economic output, and a decline in the number of jobs.

Last year, their forecast called for an overall reduction of jobs in Alaska by 0.5%. Instead, the number of jobs increased by 0.4% with healthcare, wholesale/retail and transportation and misc services all having solid growth in the 4th quarter.  Together, these sectors account for about 40% of all Alaskan employment.

But oil and gas, banking, and all levels of government employment fell sharply in the 4th quarter.  Partly this is driven by the precipitous drop in oil revenues as the price of oil falls  below $30.  But it is also driven by the reductions in government jobs both at the state and federal level.  According to Hartley, every $1.00 cut in staff expenditures leads to a reduction of $1.50 in economic activity.

2016 is the year that these cuts are likely to tip the state’s economy into recession.  The largest job losses will be in the natural resource sector (oil and mining) and in government.

Hartley says the duration and severity of the job losses will depend partly on how low oil prices go, and also on the actions of the Alaska legislature, and whether they make the situation worse.

He says employment will fall to levels not seen since the mid-2000’s.

The seafood industry is already vulnerable given the low prices for whitefish and salmon.  Because seafood production is also highly dependent on regulatory staffing and competence, further cutbacks at both the state and federal level coud lead to lower production as managers can no longer keep up with the needed science and monitoring.

Already there is fear that some salmon runs will have fewer commercial openings because the in season monitoring will not be sufficient to measure escapement accurately.

Although I was not present at the luncheon, the clear implication of the presentation was that government functions need to be funded in order to protect a range of economic activities and it will be up to the legislature to address funding sources, as well as cuts to government programs.


Alaska’s Republican Senate majority welcomes another Democrat
Alaska Dispatch News by Nathaniel Herz – February 10, 2016
JUNEAU — The Republican-controlled Alaska Senate majority caucus announced Wednesday it had added a member who jumped ship from the minority: Donny Olson, who represents Northwest Alaska.


Fish Board May Consider Setnet Site Erosion
Fishermen’s News – February 10, 2016
Alaska’s Board of Fisheries will be at the Sheraton Hotel in Anchorage Feb. 23-29 to discuss finfish regulatory issues for the Alaska Peninsula, Chignik and the Aleutian Islands.

EPA Pebble, Transboundary Update
Fishermen’s News – February 10, 2016
Environmental Protection Agency Region 10 administrator Dennis McLerran told the Alaska Forum on the Environment in Anchorage this week that he feels the agency will prevail in lawsuits in progress regarding the Pebble mine.

‘Only one-third of countries with inland fisheries submit catch statistics’ – February 11, 2016
Inland capture fisheries are much more crucial to global food security than realized, a new research states.

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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February 11, 2016