Alaska/Pacific Coast

Researchers see benefits in high seas fishing ban
The Cordova Times by Staff – February 22, 2015
Researchers at the University of British Columbia say closing the high seas to commercial fishing could distribute fisheries income more equitably among the world’s maritime nations.

B.C. mines minister aims for Alaska’s indigenous fishing community

VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s mines minister is making plans to visit Alaska’s indigenous fishing community after admitting his first trip to the state following the Mount Polley disaster addressed “probably the wrong audience.”

House Bill targets Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission for elimination
KTOO by By Lisa Phu – February 20, 2015
State legislators are targeting for elimination an agency that limits commercial fisheries permits to conserve and maintain the economic health of Alaska commercial fisheries.

Controversial Fish Board nominee Roland Maw withdraws from consideration
Alaska Dispatch News by Pat Forgey – February 20, 2015
JUNEAU — Kenai River fish wars have claimed another Fish Board nominee, this time Roland Maw, named to the board by Gov. Bill Walker. Maw withdrew his name from consideration Friday after facing opposition.


AK: Tracking Halibut
APRN by Amanda Compton – February 20, 2015
What would you do if you lived hundreds of feet below the ocean surface? Where would you eat? When would you sleep? Where would you procreate? Julie Nielson is a PhD student at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Labeling and Marketing

MSC Updates Chain Of Custody Standard
Perishable News by Marine Stewardship Council’s – February 20, 2015
The world’s leading sustainable seafood certification program has revised its requirements for seafood suppliers, processors and vendors. Following feedback from over 200 stakeholders around the world, the Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) Chain of Custody Standard is now more streamlined, clear and accessible.

Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission Votes to Leave MSC Program
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – February 20, 2015
The Oregon Dungeness Crab Commission, made up of harvester representatives of the state’s dungeness crab fishery, voted today to allow their MSC certification to expire on November 30, 2015, and not go forward with a five year recertification and new assessment.dungeness 2-20-15

Hugh Link, Executive Director of the Crab Commission, said “We need to spend our money on our own research priorities, rather than spending research dollars to meet the requirements of the MSC assessment process.”

With a limited amount of funds, the commissioners felt that committing to a new MSC assessment might lead to an open ended research commitment where costs could not be easily quantified.

Hugh Link also said that the commissioners felt they did not get market value from the label, especially in recent years when sales have been very strong to their traditional West Coast markets, and Asia

Retailers were willing to purchase dungeness crab from both certified and non-certified fisheries, with Whole Foods, for example, eagerly buying crab from California, which is not certified, as well as crab from Oregon, which is.

“We just did not see the necessity of the label to move product”, said Link.

This is not the same situation as the Oregon pink shrimp fishery, where the MSC label is a key component of sales into Europe.  That fishery does derive a value from its certification.

The processors who handle shrimp all have MSC chain of custody, so it was fully available to be used for Dungeness Crab as well, but no one felt it was particularly important.

One of the reasons the crab fishery is leaving the program is the cost of the new requirements for the 2.0 revision of the MSC standard.

For example, under the prior standard, the fishery was required to identify a limit reference point, called an LRP, which would indicate under what conditions the fishery might be seen having low stock levels that would require changes to the management regime to compensate.

The 2.0 standard changes that requirement to a target reference point – i.e. a determination what the size would be for a healthy stock.

This potentially would mean spending money on a stock assessment not just for Oregon, but for California and Washington as well.  Such assessments have never been done in the past for Dungeness crab management.

The Commissioners have other research priorities.  For example, one of their key concerns is bycatch reduction, and avoiding catching molting or soft shell crabs.

They want to support research that might mean changes in the size of the escapement panels from the traps; looking at the selectivity of different types of bait, and whether they can better predict or define areas where crab are molting or have soft shells.

The crab fishery is highly selective, harvesting only large males.  As a result, practices that reduce the catch and mortality of both smaller males and females, as well as molting crabs, are thought to have a very positive impact on population levels.

As Hugh Link said, “the MSC standard is based on global best practices, but there is not much room for a fishery that has been managed by size, sex, and season for many many years.”

The Dungeness Crab Commission is funded by a 1% assessment on the dockside value of the fishery.  This money pays for marketing and research to improve the fishery.  It took the Oregon crab fishery seven years to complete the first MSC process, and the harvesters told the Commission that they did not see a value or return to themselves from the label.

In short, they are not in a market that requires MSC, and they are happy with the way other organizations, such as Monterey Bay, rate their fishery as highly sustainable.

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod in the Western Aleutian Islands District of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area

A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 02/23/2015
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod, including for the Community Development Quota program (CDQ), in the Western Aleutian Islands district (Area 543) of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the Area 543 Pacific cod harvest limit of the 2015 total allowable catch (TAC) in the Aleutian Islands subarea of the BSAI.

Western Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meetings

A Notice by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 02/23/2015

The Western Pacific Fishery Management Council (Council) will hold meetings of its 118th Scientific and Statistical Committee (SSC), SSC sub-working group and its 162nd Council meeting to take actions on fishery management issues in the Western Pacific Region. The Council will also convene meetings of the Pelagic and International Standing Committee and Executive and Budget Standing Committee.

Taking and Importing Marine Mammals; Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Seismic Surveys in Cook Inlet, Alaska
A Proposed Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 02/23/2015
NMFS has received a request from Apache Alaska Corporation (Apache) for authorization to take marine mammals, by harassment, incidental to its proposed oil and gas exploration seismic survey program in Cook Inlet, Alaska, between March 1, 2015, and February 29, 2020. Pursuant to the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), NMFS is requesting comments on its proposal to issue regulations and subsequent Letters of Authorization (LOAs) to Apache to incidentally harass marine mammals.


Board of Fish meeting opens Monday in Sitka
KCAW by Robert Woolsey – February 22, 2015 5:07 pm
The Alaska State Board of Fisheries opens a ten-day meeting in Sitka this morning (Mon 2-23-15). On the agenda for the board are 107 proposals for changes in management to Southeast Alaska’s herring, salmon, and groundfish fisheries.
Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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February 23, 2015