Alaska/Pacific Coast

Herring Headache: The Big Obstacles To Eating Small Fish In California by Alastair Bland – February 29, 2016
Every winter, a small fleet of commercial fishing boats sets gillnets in the San Francisco Bay. Their target: Pacific herring, which enter the estuary in huge numbers to spawn and are easily caught by the millions. The fishermen fill their holds with herring just yards from the waterfront of downtown San Francisco, where many restaurants serve fresh, locally caught seafood.

Oregon Facing a Difficult Salmon Year in 2016, as West Coast Indicators Worsen Especially for Coho
SEAFOOD.COM  by Susan Chambers –  February 26, 2016
Oregon ocean salmon fishermen face a difficult year, as the preliminary look at the 2016 forecast suggests low returns, but not closures as happened in the mid-2000’s.

Managers from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife reviewed the 2015 season and salmon returns and shared preliminary forecasts for 2016 with sport and commercial fishermen and processors at the Oregon Salmon Industry Group meeting in Newport, Ore., Thursday.

ODFW Fish Division Administrator Chris Kern summed up the season forecast simply: “We have way less fish to manage to,” he said. “It’s going to be less, but it’s not going to be closed.”
Commercial fishermen feared a repeat of completely closed or severely restricted seasons that were prevalent in the mid-2000s. While data is still very preliminary, Kern and others seemed confident fishermen will have the opportunity to harvest Chinook and keep existing market channels open.

One of the primary concerns was coho. Adult escapement in most rivers throughout Oregon, Washington and Canada dropped, despite high jack counts.

“The prevailing assumption is that a decent jack survival means good adult survival, but that didn’t happen in 2015,” Kern said. “There is reason to be concerned.”
Many state and federal biologists have speculated why.

“There was a variety of causes,” ODFW salmon technical team member Craig Foster said, although a warmer ocean in 2015 was on everyone’s mind.

Chinook is the target commercial fishery in Oregon. Coho could play a part in designing Chinook seasons, however, so trollers avoid coho. Estimating returns in 2016, and thereby crafting seasons, will also be especially difficult as state industry and managers from Washington, Oregon and California work with federal managers in March and April. Will the ocean stay warm or return to cooler temps? And how will coho respond?

We just don’t know, Kern said.

Preliminary seasons will be drafted by the Pacific Fishery Management Council in early March, with final seasons approved in April. The PFMC recently released the first of three pre-season reports in February, with very preliminary forecasts and estimates.

“Some of these forecasts could be optimistic this year,” Foster said.

Fishery managers noted that forecasts of Chinook returns to both Klamath and Sacramento rivers — the two main drivers for Oregon ocean salmon fisheries — do not look robust, either.

Preliminary ocean abundance estimates show that in 2015:

– Sacramento fall Chinook: Preseason expectation was 652,000 returns with 255,300 actual returns, a difference of 396,700 fish;
– Klamath fall Chinook , age 3 fish: Preseason expectation of 342,200 fish with 175,700 actual returns, a difference of 166,000; and
– Klamath fall Chinook, age 4 fish: Preseason expectation of 71,100 fish with actual returns of 65,500 fish, a difference of 5,600.

Ocean abundance forecasts for both rivers are also dramatically lower, with only 299,600 fall Chinook expected to return to the Sacramento River, 352,400 less than the 2015 forecast. On the Klamath, 93,400 age 3 fish are expected to return, 248,800 less than the 2015 forecast.

Commercial fishermen, notably frustrated, tried to deal with the best situation they could, despite the uncertainty going into the federal season-setting process. Most agreed that an April opening would be best, given potential impacts to Klamath River fish.

“We’ve pretty much ruled out March,” processor Jerry Reinholdt said.

Many in the group agreed that having more fishing days in April, when they said the ex-vessel price is higher, is favorable to having more fishing days in early to mid summer.

In 2015, salmon trollers delivered 1.2 million pounds of salmon — the bulk of which is Chinook, but with some coho — to Oregon, for a total value of $7.1 million.


Electronic Monitoring: Different Fisheries Require Different Solutions
Scientists and fishermen are working together to design electronic monitoring systems, but there’s no one-size-fits-all solution.
NOAA Fisheries Science by Rich Press – February 16, 2016
Dan Falvey fishes aboard the 50-foot FV Magia out of Sitka, Alaska, for Pacific cod, black cod, and halibut. Alongside that boat two cameras lean out over the water, each pointed at the spot where the longline emerges from the deep. When the hydraulic winch kicks into gear and the line starts coming in, the cameras switch on, recording high-definition video of everything the fishermen pull out of the water.

How an MIT team created a warning system for rogue waves
New research improves the ability to forecast rogue waves, also known as killer waves, which can rise without warning to tower over ships and rigs, with potentially catastrophic results.
Christian Science Monitor by Jason Thomson – February 27, 2016
A new way of predicting the onset of rogue waves, also known as killer waves, has been developed by researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Labeling and Marketing

3MMI – Dungeness Crab Closures Tighten Market Pricing, Buyers to Seek Alternatives
TradexFoods – February 29, 2016
3-Minute Market Insight:
– California’s Dungeness Crab fishery closed for the foreseeable future…
– After the second highest opener for Dungeness Crab in Oregon, prices are strong as fishermen continue good harvests this season

IN BRIEF – Launches Seafood Marketing Specialist Certificate Program –  February 29, 2016
Diversified Communications, parent company of and organizer of the world’s largest seafood trade events, has announced the launch of the Seafood Marketing Specialist Certificate program. The program is now available online at

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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February 29, 2016