Alaska/Pacific Coast

Tanner crabbing underway as consolidation adds complications
Bristol Bay Times by Jim Paulin – February 2, 2016
Fishing industry consolidation has complicated the lives of Tanner crab fishermen and processors, but it looks like they’ll still have access to the whole quota and won’t have to leave 10 percent in the water.
http://www.thebristolbaytimes.com/article/1605tanner_crabbing_underway_as_consolidation

Early A Season Pollock Roe Production Appears Slow
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton –  February 3, 2016
Early reports are that roe production is starting slowly for the pollock fleet.
The primary issue seems to be small size fish.   Some boats are fishing on pollock which is 400 to 450 grams, which is producing only  54% standard grade, and 45% offgrade.

Most expect roe production rates to improve as the fishing moves further north.

As of Janaury 23rd, NMFS reported only 143 tons of roe processed by the pollock fleet.

Trident is proposing sampling on March 9th as the beginning of the first Seattle Roe Auction, and Japanese sources believe other processors will follow suit, and offer products around this date.

Pollock roe sales held steady in Japan during the recent holiday, and there are no reports of inventory overhang.  Last year the spring roe auctions generally were priced 15% to 20% below 2014.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1007874/Early-A-Season-Pollock-Roe-Production-Appears-Slow

Gulf of Alaska Trawl Industry, Processors Write Highly Critical Letter on Council Plans
SEAFOODNEWS.COM
[News Analysis] by John Sackton – February 1, 2016
The problems in the Gulf of Alaska trawl fishery, some of the council’s own making, are set to dominate the February meeting of the North Pacfic Management Council that will take place this week in Portland, Oregon.

Last fall, the council added, without debate or review, a new alternative to the carefully crafted Gulf of Alaska rationalization plan.  Alternative 3, as it is known, is likely to be highly damaging to the fisheries and communities in the Gulf of Alaska, and the organizations representing the processors and harvesters have written the Council specifically detailing how the off the cuff proposal would create immense problems.

Specifically in a letter to chair Dan Hull, current council chair, Glenn Reed (Pacific Seafood Processors Association), Julie Bonney (Alaska Groundfish Data Bank), Robert Krueger (Alaska Whitefish Trawlers Association), and Heather Mann (Midwater Trawlers Cooperative) write:

Based on our experience with the successful cooperative catch share programs in Alaska, and with GOA trawl fisheries specifically, we are concerned that the management system proposed under Alternative 3:

1. Does not take into account historical participation, investment, and dependence on the fishery as required by the MSA.

2. Establishes a framework that creates disincentives for harvesters and/or cooperatives to share information to minimize bycatch and discards.

3. Exacerbates the race for target species catch thus leading to increased discards, less opportunity to develop underutilized species, and undermining ability to achieve OY.

4. Could have significant redistribution impacts in both the harvesting and processing sectors with unknown consequences for current fishery participants and fishery dependent communities.

5. Introduces additional pressures and instability in the harvesting and processing sectors at a time when whitefish markets are under significant pressure globally, with attendant social and economic impacts to fishery participants and fishery dependent communities.

6. Potentially puts harvesters and processors at risk under anti-trust restrictions.

7. Does not address community protection issues such as maintaining traditional delivery patterns.

8. Creates disincentives and barriers for harvesters and processors to work cooperatively to plan and execute fisheries effectively.

All the successful resolution of problems in Alaska fisheries have depended on the buy-in of the fleets involved.  This is what happened with halibut bycatch, where despite arguments about the best way to reduce bycatch and the size of bycatch reductions, the Amendment 80 fleet fully bought in to the problem and its required solutions, and for that reason was able to exceed the committments made in bycatch reduction.

Likewise, the operation of the pollock fleet in avoiding chinook salmon has been largely due to the cooperation of the fleet in meeting and exceeding lower bycatch targets.

The same thing happened with rockfish on the west coast, where the conservation cooperative helped whiting trawlers avoide rockfish bycatch in a manner that would have meant the premature shut down of the fishery.

The Gulf of Alaska problem comes from two things:  ending the race for fish with some type of rationalization so that the trawl fleet can fish in a more targeted and efficient way, and also giving the fleet the tools needed to meet the bycatch reduction requirements mandated by the council.  These two things go hand in hand, and as the experience of other fisheries in Alaska has shown, it is not possible to develop effective bycatch strategies while allowing  a ‘race for fish’ to occur without excessive economic hardship and early closure of many fisheries.

This current problem is largely of the council’s own making, as the Alaska delegation, which has a six vote majority, had previously endorsed the plans put forward by the ADF&G and agreed to by the gulf of Alaska trawl fleet.  It was the change in direction of the ADF&G that has precipitated the potential crisis.

It is up to the council to recognize that their success to date has been based on adherence to their own procedures; and any attempt to undermine those proceedures not only risks the reputation of the council, but has the potential to throw some of the successful management schemes in Alaska into chaos.  That would not be a good outcome for the most respected fishery management body on the planet.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1007586/Gulf-of-Alaska-Trawl-Industry-Processors-Write-Highly-Critical-Letter-on-Council-Plans

Environment/Science

Ocean glider used to record marine mammals in Arctic
Arctic Sounder by Carey Restino – January 31, 2016
Cutting-edge research used an ocean glider last summer to zigzag along the Arctic coast between Kotzebue and Wainwright and listen for marine mammals. Researchers found most of the protected animals favor offshore Bering Sea currents as opposed to near-shore Arctic Ocean currents. Walrus were most prevalent.
http://www.adn.com/article/20160131/ocean-glider-used-record-marine-mammals-arctic

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Pot Catcher/Processors in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 02/02/2016
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by catcher/processors using pot gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the A season apportionment of the 2016 Pacific cod total allowable catch allocated to catcher/processors using pot gear in the BSAI.
https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/02/02/2016-01851/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-pacific-cod-by-pot-catcherprocessors-in-the?utm_campaign=subscription+mailing+list&utm_medium=email&utm_source=federalregister.gov

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bycatch Management in the Bering Sea Pollock Fishery
A Proposed Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 02/03/2016
NMFS proposes regulations to implement Amendment 110 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area (FMP). If approved, Amendment 110 and this proposed rule would improve the management of Chinook and chum salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery by creating a comprehensive salmon bycatch avoidance program.
https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/02/03/2016-01890/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-bycatch-management-in-the-bering-sea-pollock?utm_campaign=subscription+mailing+list&utm_medium=email&utm_source=federalregister.gov

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Vessels Using Pot Gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 02/03/2016
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by vessels using pot gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska (GOA). This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the A season allowance of the 2016 Pacific cod total allowable catch apportioned to vessels using pot gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA.
https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2016/02/03/2016-01989/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-pacific-cod-by-vessels-using-pot-gear-in-the?utm_campaign=subscription+mailing+list&utm_medium=email&utm_source=federalregister.gov

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
Office Manager
1900 W Emerson Place Suite 205, Seattle, WA 98119
Phone: 206.281.1667
E-mail: pspafish@gmail.com; Website: www.pspafish.net
Our office days/hours are Monday-Friday
8:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. *Inclusion of a news article, report, or other document in this email does not imply PSPA support or endorsement of the information or opinion expressed in the document.

February 3, 2016