Alaska/Pacific Coast

Taku Smokeries needs more fish
Innovation Summit attendees learn about what’s smokin’
Taku Smokeries doesn’t need more customers. What it needs first is more fish.
“I got people calling me wanting to be customers … Believe it or not, I don’t need more customers. I need more fish,” said general manager Eric Norman while giving a tour of the smokery Wednesday.

IPHC raises 2015 halibut catch limit 1.7 million pounds
Alaska Journal of Commerce by DJ Summers – January 30, 2015
The International Pacific Halibut Commission closed their yearly meeting on Jan. 30 with raised catch limits for a halibut fishermen and a sigh of relief for the aggrieved Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands directed halibut fishery.


Drift Assoc. Offers Clarification of Cook Inlet Salmon Management Lawsuit
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [United Cook Inlet Drift Association] – February 2, 2015
There have been numerous misstatements made about a lawsuit being pursued by the United Cook Inlet Drift Association, including published commentaries by Howard Delo, Les Palmer and Karl Johnstone (recently removed as Board of Fisheries Chairman). We hope that this brief statement provides clarification on the nature of this litigation.

After the passage of the Magnuson Stevens Act in 1976, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) set up a process for providing oversight of fisheries that fell under the Act. The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is to work with the State and stakeholder groups to write Fisheries Management Plans for regional fisheries that comply with the 10 National Standards in the Magnuson Stevens Act. Authority for managing the fishery can then be delegated to the State. The State of Alaska agreed, in a Memorandum of Understanding, that it would manage fisheries in Cook Inlet in a manner consistent with the Act.

By the late 1990’s the State stopped following its agreement with NMFS, and actively took the position that it need not consider the Magnuson Stevens Act, or the national standards, in making fishery management decisions in Cook Inlet. Since that change, harvests of salmon in Cook Inlet have significantly declined. (Documentation of this decline is available on request and on our website.) UCIDA repeatedly asked the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to update the Fisheries Management Plan for Cook Inlet, last updated in 1990. Instead, in 2012, the Council simply removed Cook Inlet altogether from the plan.

In January of 2013, UCIDA filed a lawsuit against NMFS and the Secretary of Commerce, challenging the approval of this decision by the Council to remove federal waters in Cook Inlet from the scope of the federal salmon fishery management plan. This case is currently pending before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, as case number 14-35928, and is under assessment by the mediation program for settlement potential. The State of Alaska was not sued. The State of Alaska decided to intervene in support of the NMFS and participate as an intervenor-defendant.

UCIDA does not want federal management of the Cook Inlet fishery. We are only asking that the State be held to the same management standards in Cook Inlet that they have to follow in other fisheries such as Southeast Alaska salmon and Bering Sea crab.

Concerns about “federal overreach” through a fishery management plan simply misunderstand the mechanism by which the Magnuson Stevens Act operates. The MSA is our national charter and model for sound, science-based management of commercial fisheries. Federal oversight through NMFS is limited to ensuring that the plan complies with the MSA’s national standards, and that the State complies with the plan

UCIDA’s principal concern is the long term health of the salmon fisheries in Cook Inlet. Harvests of salmon in Cook Inlet have significantly declined in the last two decades. These declines, in large part, are attributable to mismanagement by the State. Invasive pike and other habitat problems in the Mat-Su Basin have eliminated 100 percent of the salmon production in 8 lakes, and have reduced total production in that watershed by 50 percent. Rather than address the in-river problems, the State responded by progressively restricting commercial fishing that targets healthy stocks heading to the Kenai and Kasilof Rivers, even though commercial fisheries only catch a fraction of the stocks headed north to the Mat-Su basin.

The complete extirpation of salmon from eight lakes in the Mat-Su Basin and the recent crash in Chinook returns raise the specter that one or more such stocks could decline to the point at which a listing as “threatened” or “endangered” is warranted under the Endangered Species Act. At that point we would face a real federal takeover of fishery management decisions in Cook Inlet. UCIDA’s lawsuit is an effort to prevent this from occurring.


Mount Polley spill taints Alaska-B.C. mine relations
The Globe and Mail by Mark Hume – Sunday, Feb. 01 2015
A provincial government report that found the tailings pond dam at Mount Polley collapsed because it was built on a weak foundation has heightened concerns in Alaska about British Columbia’s mine safety standards.

New Injectable Device Makes Tracking Fish Easier
The Fish Site -February 2, 2015
US – Fish no longer need to go under the knife to help researchers understand exactly how they swim through hydroelectric dams, thanks to a new injectable tracking device described in the journal Scientific Reports.

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Crab Rationalization Program
A Proposed Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 02/02/2015
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) submitted Amendment 45 to the Fishery Management Plan for Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands King and Tanner Crabs (Crab FMP) to NMFS for review. If approved, Amendment 45 would establish, for a limited period of time, a process to permanently remove Pacific cod catch limits, known as sideboard limits, which are applicable to certain hook-and-line catcher/processors in the Central and Western Gulf of Alaska (GOA) Regulatory Areas. This action would authorize NMFS to remove these Pacific cod sideboard limits in the Central or Western GOA if all eligible participants in the hook-and-line catcher/processor sector in a regulatory area sign and submit to NMFS an affidavit requesting that NMFS remove the sideboard limit. Eligible participants would be required to submit an affidavit to NMFS within 1 year of the date of publication of a final rule implementing Amendment 45, if it is approved by the Secretary of Commerce. Amendment 45 is necessary to provide participants in the Central and Western GOA hook-and-line catcher/processor sectors with an opportunity to cooperatively coordinate harvests of GOA Pacific cod through private arrangement to the participants’ mutual benefit, which would remove the need for current regulations that impose sideboard harvest restrictions on some participants in the sectors. This action is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Magnuson-Stevens Act), the Crab FMP, and other applicable laws.


Unalaska captain receives business grant
Bristol Bay Times by John Messick – January 30, 2015
Soon, an order of fish and chips may come with kraut, mustard and a bun.
Last month, the Aleutians-Pribilof Islands Community Development Association awarded $1,000 to an Unalaska boat captain for his idea to produce Pollock fish frankfurters on the remote island of St. George.

Video: Conversations that Matter – B.C. fishing industry diminishes
Vancouver Sun by Stu McNish, Speial – February 2, 2015
This week Jim McIsaac of the BC Commercial Fishing Caucus says that since the restructuring of the commercial fishing industry in the 90s communities up and down the coast have been disenfranchised from the sector that was their lifeblood. This is episode 18 of a series of weekly videos produced by Stu McNish.Inline image 1
Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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February 2, 2015