Unalaska gets new pollock plant
Bristol Bay Times by Jim Paulin – February 2, 2018
The city of Unalaska has a big new fish processor, but it’s not new to Unalaska Island.
The Northern Victor, owned by Icicle Seafoods, is now inside city limits, on Ballyhoo Road, docked permanently in Dutch Harbor, the famous body of water within the municipal boundaries of Unalaska.
Mallott, Sullivan meet with top Canadians on transboundary issues
Alaska Journal of Commerce by Elwood Brehmer – February 7, 2018
Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott and Sen. Dan Sullivan watched Super Bowl LII together in Ottawa and spent time strategizing on their approach to the next day’s meetings.
Changes in Seafood Industry Will Require Fewer Workers
Fishermen’s News – February 7, 2018
A decline in the domestic workforce for the seafood industry’s harvesting and processing sector is prompting efforts for modernization and automation of the harvest to reduce the number of workers needed, while increasing skills required of those who get the jobs.
Federal council takes up GOA Chinook issues
Cordova Times by Margaret Bauman – February 7, 2018
Federal fisheries managers this week have scheduled an initial review of proposed adjustments of the prohibited species catch of Chinook salmon in the Gulf of Alaska groundfish fishery.
Trawl Industry on West Coast Brings Rockfish to Market while Avoiding Salmon Bycatch
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Susan Chambers – February 8, 2018
Two pilot programs in the West Coast groundfish industry have proven effective at harvesting valuable rockfish while avoiding bycatch of salmon species.
The annual catch limits (ACLs) for several rockfish species increase in 2017 as new stock assessments showed they were rebuilt — and in some cases had not been overfished at all. Regardless, the increase in harvestable rockfish in 2017 and subsequent years could have gone largely untouched without the industry pulling together to get exempted fishing permits (EFPs) into regulation. The trawl fleet was beholden to out-of-date management rules, even while operating under a new, rationalized program that included 100 percent observer coverage and accountability.
“U.S. West Coast rockfish had basically had been off the market for 16 years and then increased by magnitudes overnight,” Pacific Seafood’s Mike Okoniewski said. Pacific Seafood was one of the original EFP applicants.
The need then became to find a way to harvest a product that had lost retail attention since 2000 and to ignite market demand. Fishermen could harvest pelagic rockfish with midwater gear during the Pacific hake season — May 15-Dec. 31, but that coincided with pink shrimp, halibut, hake and salmon hitting peak production. Processors and distributors missed the opportunity to market for Lent earlier in the year.
“January 1 until May 1 arguably is the best time to hit the market with rockfish,” Okoniewski said. “The Lenten season arrives and seafood consumption spikes. Plants are looking for work for their employees at this time in order to stabilize their work forces.”
The 2017 EFP started late, in March, but the 2018 EFP started in January, giving fishermen and processors time to prepare for Lent.
Moreover, salmon bycatch in both EFPs turned out to be very low. In years where directed salmon fisheries were limited due to poor returns or poor forecasted returns of some species, this was a huge hurdle the trawl industry had to overcome.
Eleven vessels participated in the 2017 EFP fishing shoreward of the Rockfish Conservation Area that runs from the Canadian border to the Mexican border. They made 63 deliveries totaling close to 3 million pounds for an ex-vessel value of $1.6 million — all while catching only five salmon. Sixteen midwater trawlers fishing within the RCA boundaries during the primary hake season (May 15-Dec. 31) made 154 trips for a total of 12.5 million pounds of groundfish worth $3.5 million. Their incidental catch of salmon was 37 Chinook.
So far in 2018, preliminary figures near the end of January show five midwater trawlers made 13 trips, caught 1.3 million pounds of groundfish with an ex-vessel value of $351,858 — while encountering no salmon at all. Bottomfish trawlers also encountered no salmon while harvesting 181,716 pounds of groundfish worth $102,108.
“This EFP was the product of an unusual, but increasingly common collaboration on the West Coast among fishermen, processors and NGOs who understand the potential of this fishery and really want to maximize it,” Environmental Defense Fund spokesman Shems Jud said. EDF was an applicant for both the 2017 and 2018 EFPs.
“What we’re seeing is extremely promising,” Jud said. “At this point it looks like the EFP will enable more than 10 million additional pounds of rockfish to be landed with vanishingly low bycatch, leading to much greater revenue for industry and the creation of potentially hundreds of new jobs.”
The Oregon Trawl Commission was another applicant on both EFPs. The commission was one of the leaders on encouraging the Pacific Fishery Management Council and the National Marine Fisheries Service to get rid of the archaic regulations hampering the trawl industry. The PFMC approved the so-called “gear package” in 2016 but NMFS has not yet implemented it. The EFPs effectively implement some of the changes included in that gear package.
“We’re finally getting a glimpse of what the fishery will look like once it’s fully rationalized,” OTC Director Brad Pettinger said. “This could be what it looks like once we get the gear package through — like we were promised.”
For now, while trawlers are bringing in rockfish via the EFPs, others are working on markets.
The Trawl Commission, EDF, processors such as Pacific Seafood, Bornstein Seafoods and California Shellfish; the Marine Stewardship Council, Oregon and Washington Departments of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Department of Agriculture and Oregon State University are finding ways to generate public interest in rockfish — again.
“The result, while far from completion, is full time employment for our teams, millions of additional pounds for our fishermen to harvest, and a comeback for U.S. seafood against the tidal wave of imports that now dominates U.S consumption,” Okoniewski said.
West Coast Fisheries Disaster Funding Included in Senate Appropriations Bill
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Susan Chambers – February 8, 2018
As news of a Wednesday night Senate agreement on the federal budget bill that included millions for disaster aid filtered out, many fishermen and processors on the West Coast wondered whether fisheries aid was included.
The short answer: Yes, according to Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations Executive Director Noah Oppenheim.
“We called on Congress to step up and provide fishery disaster assistance, and today they delivered. West Coast fishermen express their heartfelt gratitude to key senators and members of congress who fought hard for their constituents,” Oppenheim said in a statement. “Fishery disasters don’t flood cities or burn down houses, but they do devastate coastal communities and threaten the fishing way of life. These fishery disaster appropriations will go a long way towards beginning the healing process for hundreds of working fishing families on the West Coast.”
Oppenheim said the Senate disaster supplemental appropriation includes $200 million for commercial fisheries disasters declared in calendar year 2017 and any to be declared as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
In 2017, former Commerce Secretary Pritzker declared seven fishery failures under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, including the 2015-16 California commercial Dungeness crab fishery, which was rocked by a harmful algal bloom, Oppenheim noted.
Additional declared disasters include several other tribal and commercial salmon and crab fisheries on the West Coast and Alaska. Fishery disaster funds will likely be allocated by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission according to demonstrated need by affected stakeholders. The disaster supplemental appropriations bill must pass the House and Senate in order to take effect.
The Senate deal faces opposition in the House, but Congress must agree to some kind of spending levels today to avoid a government shutdown.
Fishery Council of Canada is ‘Cautious but Hopeful’ Regarding New Canadian Fisheries Act
SEAFOODNEWS.COM – February 7, 2018
FCC is cautious but hopeful on a Fisheries Act for the future
The Fisheries Council of Canada (FCC), in response to the tabling of amendments to the Fisheries Act, is cautious but hopeful the proposed legislative framework will facilitate and enable the fisheries sector to be prosperous long into the future.
Paul Lansbergen, FCC President, said, “The Minister has taken a strategic approach to restoring and introducing new protections in the Act. The sustainability of our fish resources is vital to our future. We look forward to working with the government and Parliamentarians on the details of the Bill and subsequent regulations.”
The amendments are seventy-six pages in length. It will take time to review, digest and analyze the Bill.
The Council is pleased the Minister did not just restore old protections but in modernizing the Act, the scope of changes is more complex. The future of the fisheries sector depends on this framework legislation.
“The Fisheries Act is our bible, governing all aspects of the fisheries sector. The amendments are far-reaching and some implications may not appear for years to come,” Lansbergen said.
He went on to say, “It is critical that we have an open and honest discussion to make sure we get it right.”
The Canadian seafood industry creates 80,000 direct jobs, mainly in coastal and rural communities, and accounts for $6.6 billion in exports. 80 per cent of Canadian wild seafood production by value is certified by the Marine Stewardship Council, the international gold standard for measuring fishery sustainability.
Since the Council was established in 1915, the Fisheries Council of Canada has been the national voice for Canada’s commercial fisheries.
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