Alaska/Pacific Coast

Alaska Board of Fish gets earful on herring, salmon proposals
KCAW by Emily Kwong, and KTOO by Jacob Resneck –  January 16, 2018
More than 200 people turned out in Sitka to testify about herring and salmon fisheries in front of the Alaska Board of Fisheries on Tuesday. And about two-thirds of those who spoke were concerned over the commercial management of the Sitka sac roe herring fishery.

Among 100+ proposals, Sitka’s sac roe herring fishery a top issue
KCAW by Emily Kwong – January 16, 2018
The parking lot at Harrigan Centennial Hall in Sitka is packed to the gills. That’s because the Alaska Board of Fisheries is in town reviewing over 100 finfish proposals. If passed, a proposal can changes the rules of the game for fishing and one of the major battles concerns the future of the Sitka sac roe herring fishery.

Bering Sea cod fleet expected to double this year
Bristol Bay Times by Jim Paulin – January 12, 2018
The fleet of small boats fishing for cod in the Bering Sea could more than double this year, thanks to a fisheries crisis caused by a “high latitude heat wave” that warmed the waters of the Gulf of Alaska, also known as “the blob.”Last year, 24 vessels 58 feet long or less fished for Pacific cod with pots in state waters in the Dutch Harbor subdistrict, where there’s no limit on the number of boats. This year, at least 50 are expected when the season opens within the next two months, according to groundfish biologist Asia Beber of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, in Unalaska/Dutch Harbor. Already, six boats have registered for Aleutian Islands state waters cod, up from four last year.

ADF&G Wants to List Southeast Chinook as a Stock of Concern; Board of Fish Hears Dire Outlook
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – January 17, 2018
The Alaska Board of Fish is meeting in Sitka this month, and is hearing a lot about concerns over Chinook Salmon.

KTOO, reporting on the meeting, quoted Federal Fisheries Biologist Jim Murphy, from Auke Bay Lab, saying “There’s a lot of concern over ‘The Blob’ but in reality the marine survival of chinook salmon has been declining for several years, even before the blob showed up,”

ADF&G is proposing to list Southeastern Chinook as a species of concern, that could trigger tighter management restrictions.

Dan Grey, ADF&G’s southeast salmon coordinator, said “Around the region, I’d say it’s the worst we’ve seen.  The forecasts for 2018 are even worse than what we saw in 2017. We’re in a historic sort of area here.”

In 2017 the commercial troll catch was 123,417 fish, less than half the 266,172 fish caught in 2016.

Juneau is losing both commercial and sport fishing revenue.  The Spring King salmon derby marked its 20th season inn 2016, but was cancelled in 2017 and will likely be cancelled this year also. The derby raises money for scholarships.

Salmon Trollers are looking at significant losses.  “King salmon make up half our annual revenue,” said Dale Kelley, the executive director of the Alaska Trollers Association to KTOO.

The upshot is that scientists simply don’t have information to identify the reason for the decline.  They can’t tell if it is in the first few months, or out at sea.  Some say predation might be an issue, but chinook salmon have almost never been found in stomach contents.

Others point to the nutrient poor warmer water in the Bering Sea due to global warming.  But as Murphy said, chinook declines have predated the ‘blob’, a period of extreme warm water that has been fingered as causing the collapse in recruitment in Gulf of Alaska cod.

The Board of Fish is considering over 30 proposals on Chinook, but the state will likely just put their head down, and manage the diminishing returns.


South Korea Plans US $500 Million Investment in Pollock Processing Factories in Russia
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Eugene Gerden – January 15, 2018
South Korea plans to invest up to USD $500 million in the building of several large-scale factories in Russia that will specialize on the processing of Russian pollock, according to recent statements of a leading Russian fisherman and sources in the Russian Ministry of Agriculture.

New factories that will be built in the Russian Far East will have combined capacity of about 1.4 million to 1.5 million tons of pollock per year. In theory, these capacities will be sufficient for the processing up to 80 percent of the total Russian pollock catch.

Last year, total pollock production in Russia amounted to about 1.8 million tonnes, and, according to analysts’ predictions, this year these figures may exceed 2 million tonnes.

In the meantime, the South Korean business plans have already sparked concerns from some leading Russian pollock producers. According to them, the building of such huge facilities for the processing of pollock in Russia may pose a threat of monopolization of the entire Russian pollock industry and the beginning of massive exports of future production to the Asia Pacific region.

Producers said, “such facilities will monopolize the processing of pollock in Russia and will ruin the idea of investment quotas for the construction of processing facilities, since other factories, operated by domestic companies, will not have sufficient volumes of pollock for their operations.”

Currently domestic pollock consumption in Russia is estimated at about 250,000 tonnes per year.


Pebble puts a plan on table
KDLG by Dave Bedinger – January 12, 2018
To borrow a phrase oft used by Pebble’s detractors over the past decade, the “Sword of Damocles” finally fell over the holidays when Pebble submitted, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) accepted, a full permit application.

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January 17, 2018