Alaska/Pacific Coast

Crab Fight! Aboard Alaska’s Quest To Be America’s King Of Crab
Forbes by John McCarthy – February 27, 2018
Deep in the Bering Sea off Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, the U.S. and Russia share fishing waters that are home to this nation’s supply of king and snow crab. Predictably, the relationship is contentious. While the two nations compete for room on your plate, the deck is stacked against Alaskan fisheries thanks to cheaper imported product and illegal crab. Despite the economics, the Alaskan crab industry, made famous by The Discovery Channel’s hit show Deadliest Catch, fights for quality and sustainability in a competitive, and sometimes sketchy, global market.


Russian Oligarch to Take 90% Control of Russian Fishery Co., Controlling Pollock Production
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Eugene Gerdern – February 26, 2018
Gleb Frank, a son-in-law of Gennady Timchenko, a Russian billionaire and friend of Russia President Vladimir Putin, will become a new main owner of Russian Fishery Company (RRPK), Russia’s leading fish producer.

The change will take place through the consolidation of a controlling stake in the company and the purchase of a share of Maxim Vorobyov, the brother of the Moscow region governor, another major shareholder and co-founder of RRPK.

According to Russian Ministry of Agriculture data, Frank currently owns 45.25 percent of the company, while the share of Vorobyov is estimated at 44.7 percent. RRPK general director Andrey Teterkin’s share is estimated at 5.48 percent. The remaining 4.57 percent is owned by RMD Juva enterprise, which is 100 percent owned by the RRPK.

The deal will allow Frank to directly control almost 90 percent of the company outright and, taking into account the share of “RMD Juva,” more than 94 percent of the RRPK.

The amount of the transaction has not been disclosed. It will be closed after receiving the approval of the Russian Federal Antimonopoly Service.

In 2016, the company’s revenue was $238.1 million, EBITDA (~$4.3 million USD) to $107.1 million ($1.91 million USD), according to unaudited IFRS statements. Data for 2017, so far, have not been disclosed.

In 2017, RRPK also expanded in crab business after a purchase of quota for the production of 2,400 tons of crab as a result of auctions.

According to some sources close to the businessman, negotiations for consolidation of the company began last year and lasted about six months.
Vorobyov will probably concentrate on his other projects, including the production of aquaculture, since he is the main shareholder of Russian Aquaculture. Russian Aquaculture is a major producer of lake trout and Atlantic salmon in Russia.

According to Frank, the RRPK faces large-scale tasks related to the modernization of its fleet and the construction of new vessels, as well as geographic expansion and the search for new sales channels for its products.

The RRPK has indeed recently announced its plans for further development. For example, in 2017, it signed an agreement with Russian shipyards for the construction of six trawlers under the state program of investment quotas, with the possibility of building two more trawlers in due course. This will increase the RRPK quota by 150,000-200,000 tonnes. Total investments in the new fleet will amount to about $900 million (~$16 million USD). Also, the RRPK intends to invest more than $30 million (~$5.4 million USD) in onshore fish processing facilities construction. The company also plans to increase the volume of fish fillets in its production.

According to its own data, RRPK currently remains the largest producer of pollock in Russia and the third largest in the world. The company was founded by Frank and Vorobyov in 2011 and was originally called the “Russian Sea – Dobycha,” and later renamed the RRPK.


Up to 3,000 gallons of fuel oil spilled in ‘critical habitat’ north of Kodiak
Anchorage Daily News by Laurel Andrews – February 27, 2018
Hurricane-force winds near Kodiak caused a dock to collapse on Monday morning, releasing up to 3,000 gallons of fuel into critical marine habitat, officials said.

UW-led Study Shows Largest Chinook Salmon Disappearing from West Coast
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Susan Chambers – February 28, 2018
The largest and oldest Chinook salmon — fish also known as “kings” and prized for their exceptional size — have mostly disappeared along the West Coast, according to a recent study. The study’s authors say It’s likely fishing and marine mammal predation are key drivers of the change.

The University of Washington-led study published Feb. 27 in the journal Fish and Fisheries. The researchers analyzed nearly 40 years of data from hatchery and wild Chinook populations from California to Alaska, looking broadly at patterns that emerged over that time and across thousands of miles of coastline. In general, Chinook salmon populations from Alaska showed the biggest reductions in age and size, with Washington salmon a close second.

Simultaneously, the length-at-age of older fish has declined while the length-at-age of younger fish has typically increased, the authors noted in the abstract of the study. However, negative size trends of older ages were weak or non-existent at the southern end of the range.

“Chinook are known for being the largest Pacific salmon and they are highly valued because they are so large,” lead author Jan Ohlberger, a research scientist in the UW’s School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, said in a press release. “The largest fish are disappearing and that affects subsistence and recreational fisheries that target these individuals.”

Other scientists reported similar findings of declining mean weights of commercially-caught Chinook on the West Coast in the 1980s and 1990s, but any cause or causes were not identified at the time.

Each population’s migration and lifestyle in the ocean varies, mainly depending on where they can find food. California Chinook salmon tend to stay in the marine waters off the coast, while Oregon and Washington fish often migrate thousands of miles northward along the West Coast to the Gulf of Alaska where they feed. Western Alaska populations tend to travel to the Bering Sea.

After one to five years in the ocean, the fish return to their home streams, spawn, then die.

Despite these differences in life history, most populations analyzed saw a clear reduction in the average size of the returning fish over the last four decades — up to 10 percent shorter in length, in the most extreme cases.

These broad similarities point to a cause that transcends regional fishing practices, ecosystems, or animal behaviors, the authors said.

“This suggests that there is something about the larger ocean environment that is driving these patterns,” Ohlberger said. “I think fishing is part of the story, but it’s definitely not sufficient to explain all of the patterns we see. Many populations are exploited at lower rates than they were 20 to 30 years ago.”

It used to be common to find Chinook salmon 40 inches or more in length, particularly in the Columbia River or Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula and Copper River regions. The reductions in size could have a long-term impact on the abundance of Chinook salmon, because smaller females carry fewer eggs, so over time the number of fish that hatch and survive to adulthood may decrease.

Researchers say there is no “smoking gun” for the size reduction over time, but their analysis points to fishing pressure and marine mammal predation as two of the bigger drivers.

Commercial and sport fishing have for years targeted larger Chinook. But fishing pressure has relaxed in the last 30 years due to regulations to promote sustainable fishing rates, while the reductions in Chinook size have been most rapid over the past 15 years. Resident killer whales, which are known Chinook salmon specialists, as well as other marine mammals that feed on salmon are probably contributing to the overall changes, the researchers found.

“We know that resident killer whales have a very strong preference for eating the largest fish, and this selectivity is far greater than fisheries ever were,” senior author Daniel Schindler, a UW professor of aquatic and fishery sciences, said in the press release.

While southern resident killer whales that inhabit Puget Sound are in apparent decline, populations of northern resident killer whales, and those that reside in the Gulf of Alaska and along the Aleutian Islands, appear to be growing at extremely fast rates. The paper’s authors propose these burgeoning northern populations are possibly a critical, but poorly understood, cause of the observed declines in Chinook salmon sizes.

Scientists are still trying to understand the impacts of orcas and other marine mammals on Chinook salmon, and the ways in which their relationships may have ebbed and flowed in the past. It may not be possible, for example, for marine mammals and Chinook salmon populations to be robust at the same time, given their predator-prey relationship.

“When you have predators and prey interacting in a real ecosystem, everything can’t flourish all the time,” Schindler said in the statement. “These observations challenge our thinking about what we expect the structure and composition of our ecosystems to be.”

Eric Ward of NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center and Bert Lewis of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game were co-authors on the study, which was funded by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pollock in Statistical Area 620 in the Gulf of Alaska
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 02/28/2018
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for pollock in Statistical Area 620 in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the A season allowance of the 2018 total allowable catch of pollock for Statistical Area 620 in the GOA.

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Trawl Catcher Vessels in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 02/28/2018
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher vessels using trawl gear in the Western Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the A season allowance of the 2018 Pacific cod total allowable catch apportioned to trawl catcher vessels in the Western Regulatory Area of the GOA.

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February 28, 2018