Alaska/Pacific Coast

Scientists, Fishermen Test Strategies To Reduce Trawl Bycatch, Habitat Impact
Alaska Public Media by Josh Edge, APRN – January 22, 2015
Reducing bycatch has been a hot topic in the pollock trawl industry. Scientists are working with the commercial fishermen to find a solution to the problem. And, at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium this week in Anchorage, they say they are making progress.

Commerce Dept. suggests bump for Bering Sea halibut
Alaska Journal of Commerce by DJ Summers, January 22, 2015
Bering Sea halibut bycatch reforms are still in the works, but the U.S. Department of Commerce has recommended a stopgap measure on behalf of the small boat fishermen most injured by sinking allocations.

Head of NOAA Fisheries Recommends Higher Halibut Catch Limits in Beleaguered Saint Paul Region
SEAFOODNEWS.COM  by Peggy Parker – January 22, 2015

 In an unexpected move just five days before the start of the International Pacific Halibut Association’s (IPHC) annual meeting, Assistant Administrator for Fisheries Eileen Sobeck sent a letter to the IPHC commissioners and executive director Bruce Leaman urging them to “consider recommending catch limits that provide adequate harvest opportunity for the directed fishery in Area 4CDE.”Area 4CDE is the northern and eastern Bering Sea and accounts for 55% of the entire area (from California north to the Chukchi Sea) managed by the IPHC. It is also the nation’s “fish basket”, where the billion-dollar groundfish harvest takes place.

AT IPHC’s interim meeting in December, the industry learned that although bycatch of halibut had decreased in Areas 4A and 4B, it increased more than expected in Area 4CDE. Because the pre-season estimate of bycatch for 2015 is based on actual catch in 2014, even though population indicators would justify a modest increase in the catch limit for Area 4CDE, the predicted bycatch mortality drew the catch limit down to less than half of the limit caught last year.

Last year’s catch limit in that area exceeded the IPHC’s pre-season staff recommendation by 100%, but that 1.2 million lbs. was 40% lower than the catch limit in 2013. Now, IPHC commissioners are concerned about ignoring the scientific advice to further lower catch limits in 4CDE for a second year in a row.

Sobeck’s letter points out that a decision to set catch limits for Area 4CDE above the staff advice for Area 4CDE  would “not be expected to have an adverse impact on the health of the halibut resource.”

She cites three reasons to justify an increased catch limit. “First, the IPHC has not indicated that the halibut stock is at a level that would correspond to being overfished or subject to overfishing.

“Second, the potential reductions in the Area 4CDE catch limit will have substantial negative impacts, primarily on remote coastal communities within Area 4CDE.

“Third, the North Pacific groundfish fleet is undertaking significant efforts to reduce bycatch in Area 4CDE during 2015.”

The full letter can be seen here.

Sobeck’s letter is unusual in that NMFS rarely offers advice or recommendations on halibut catch limits, just as Canada’s Department of Fisheries and Oceans does not engage in catch limit recommendations. The IPHC is a bilateral management body, founded under a treaty between the United States and Canada, and was formed under the State Departments of both countries, not their Commerce Departments which oversee fisheries management.

While IPHC’s jurisdiction covers catch limits to the regulatory areas, it is the individual country’s domestic agencies that are responsible for bycatch management.

Sobeck’s letter has been received with widely varying reactions from the halibut and Bering Sea fishing industries. Some see it as further justification for the commissioners to exceed IPHC’s blueline (biologically ideal catch limits) on socio-economic grounds and the hope that bycatch reductions will be implemented by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council in 2016, others see it as an effort to provide relief for the Saint Paul community with no assurance that the bycatch take will be commensurately reduced in 2015 in Area 4CDE.

IN BRIEF – Anti-Clean Water Act Legislation Threatens Bristol Bay Fishing Economy, Helps Pebble Mine – January 23, 2015
DILLINGHAM, AK – In a move that prioritizes the Pebble Mine over the world’s largest and most valuable sockeye salmon fishery, a bill was released today to severely curtail the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) authority to protect Bristol Bay from large-scale mining within the region. Released by senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and David Vitter (R-LA), the bill alters the 43-year old Clean Water Act by limiting the window when EPA can restrict a project that would have “unacceptable adverse effects” on surrounding wetlands and waterways.

The Exchange: Fish, Fuel Drive Unalaska’s Budget Outlook by Lauren Rosenthal – January 21, 2015
In any given year, Unalaska earns more than half of its revenue by taxing fish and fuel. Now that the price for those resources is on the decline, the city may lose out on $2.5 million in income. It would be the first major dip in revenue since 2010.


Russian Pollock Fishing Underway, with 2015 Quota of 1.72 Million Tons
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Eugene Gerden – January 23, 2015

Moscow- Pollock fishing season has officially started in Russia, according to an official spokesman of the Department of Fisheries of the Russian Primorsky Krai.

According to Primorye government, at present up to 83 vessels operate in the catch sites, of which 33 are heavy-tonnage vessel and 5 mother ships.

According to German Zverev, president of the Russian Pollock Association, this year total allowable catch of pollock in the Okhotsk Sea significantly increased, compared to previous years.

In this regard, the majority of companies are ready for a significant increase of their production plans. According to German Zverev, winter-spring pollock fishing season in the Sea of Okhotsk has always been one of the world’s most ambitious fishing seasons, in terms of the number and volume of catch, which, in the case of pollock may reach almost 1 million tons.

Total allowable pollock catch in Russia for this year is set at 1,72 million tons, which is significantly higher last year’s figures. It is planned that the biggest volume of pollock catch in Russia this year will be produced in the West Bering Sea zone, where it is expected to reach 430,000 tons, in the Petropavlovsk-Commandor zone – 83,100 tons, the Northern Kurile zone – 103,200 tons and some others.

In the case of the Sea of Okhotsk the volume of pollock catch this year is expected to reach 968,800 tons.

It is planned that the current pollock fishing season will be organized on a high level also through the introduction of a notification procedure of crossing the Russian border, which was recently approved by the national Parliament.

According to analysts of Rosrybolovstvo, the new procedure will eliminate a significant number of bureaucratic hurdles in the Russian fishing production and ease the procedure of supply.

The Russian Pollock Association also announced a fishery improvement program for the Navarino are of the Bering Sea.  Currently, only the pollock fishery in the Sea of Okhotsk is MSC certified.

The Improvement program is aimed at raising the scores of the Navarin fishery by 2017.   The certification of this area was suspended in 2012, so the group could concentrate on completing the certification of the Sea of Okhotsk fishery.

Another change this year is the requirement that any company applying for pollock quota has to disclose all of their owners, and if any of those owners are foreign entities, they have to be listed and approved beforehand.

After the Russian crackdown on foreign ownership and captive contracts for pollock, Pacific Andes pulled back significantly from the pollock fishery, and money paid to subsidiaries to guarantee future deliveries was partially refunded.

Lack of Russia salmon demand key negative impact on 2015 prices by Neil Ramsden – January 23, 2015
Although key European markets for Norway’s Atlantic salmon have stepped up since Russia’s import ban, Nordea sees oversupply as the main pressure on prices in 2015, both in Europe and spilling over to the US.


Salmon Shelf Life Extended By Ultrahigh-Pressure Processing
SEAFOODNEWS.COM – January 23, 2015

Ultrahigh-pressure (UHP) processing of salmon flesh improves shelf life, a new study in the Journal of Food Science shows.

UHP does not require heat and preserves the quality of salmon flesh while allowing for an increase in the chilled storage period, the researchers say.

Researchers exposed salmon flesh to pressures of 200, 400 or 600 MPa – as well as a control with no UHP – then stored samples at 4°C and compared the quality after 30 days of storage.

They analysed the degree of changes in the interspacing of muscle bundles, colour, texture profiles (hardness, chewiness, cohesiveness and elasticity) and microbial growth. Pressures greater than 400 MPa improved the colour, hardness and chewiness of the flesh.

The researchers say these results suggest that UHP may be useful for preserving salmon flesh and could have applications in the salmon aquaculture and distribution industries.

Labeling and Marketing

Can Tri Marine make waves with sustainable tuna strategy?
The supplier for big brands such as StarKist and Costco is investing in traceability and green business practices throughout its supply by Heather Clancy – January 23, 2015
Was the fish in your tuna salad sustainably harvested? One of the biggest tuna suppliers in the world, privately held Tri Marine, believes it has a responsibility to answer that question in the affirmative.

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Reallocation of Pacific Cod in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 01/23/2015
NMFS is reallocating the projected unused amount of Pacific cod from vessels using jig gear to catcher vessels less than 60 feet (18.3 meters) length overall using hook-and-line or pot gear in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. This action is necessary to allow the A season apportionment of the 2015 total allowable catch of Pacific cod to be harvested.


Icicle Seafoods is up for sale – January 22, 2015
Paine & Partners of San Francisco has announced the sale of Icicle Seafoods according to multiple news sources including and other seafood industry news sites.

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January 23, 2015