Alaska/Pacific Coast

NPRB funds millions in fisheries related research studies
Fishermens News – January 28, 2015
The North Pacific Research Board in Anchorage has a new biennial report out with the highlights of over $58 million spent funding some 350 research studies on topics ranging from physics to fish and habitat to humans, conducted by more than 100 agencies and institutions. Copies of the report –highlighting NPRB activities since 2002 – were made available during the NPRB’s annual Alaska Marine Science Symposium in Anchorage, which attracts hundreds of participants involved in Alaska fisheries and related scientific studies.


Promising results in king crab ageing study
Seagrant News Flash- January 2015
lipofuscin index
Lipofuscin index of known age king crabs (black) suggests wild juvenile crabs (red) are 14 months old. [Click image for larger version, 1366 x 1366px, 21 KB.]

Hatchery-reared red king crab juveniles are the subject of a study on using natural chemicals found in crab eyes to estimate age. Age determination is critical for fishery management, but estimating crab age is difficult because, unlike fish and mollusks, crabs do not retain hard parts as they grow—they shed hard parts every time they molt. And crabs grow throughout their lifetime at different rates, which complicates the relationship between size and age. An alternative approach measures “age pigments,” which are fluorescent oxidation products from lipids and proteins that accumulate in animal cells over time. Accurate quantification of these compounds (termed lipofuscins) in crabs of known age promises a powerful tool to study population structure of wild crab stocks.

Labeling and Marketing

Walmart featuring Trident’s New The Alaskan Brand Products in Alaska and Washington
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [SeafoodNews] – January 29, 2015

Walmart is adding more wild caught Alaska seafood at select stores in Alaska and Washington.

The expanded assortment includes The Alaskan, a new 100% Alaska seafood brand created by Trident  Seafood and launched exclusively at Walmart.

The nation’s largest grocer is also adding Alaskan cod, salmon, rockfish, sole and crab to its broad seafood offering. Each of the new items is harvested in Alaska and processed locally in Alaska or in the Pacific Northwest.

From all-natural Alaska coho salmon fillets to Alaska whitefish burgers, 14 new exclusive items are now on shelves at each Supercenter in Alaska and 20 additional stores in Washington.

The new items are also labeled as Made in the USA. In 2013 Walmart committed to American renewal by announcing its intent to help boost job creation and U.S. manufacturing through buying an additional $250 billion in products that support American jobs by 2023. Trident Seafoods operates more than a dozen fish processing facilities in Alaska coastal communities and is fully committed to maintaining abundant, sustainably managed fisheries.

“Our customers shop with an eye for quality and value. Like us, they’re also passionate about supporting local products. Some of the best catches in the world are found right here in Alaska and we’re proud to add these items to our seafood assortment,” said Scott Patton, market manager, Walmart U.S.

New Alaska Seafood certified products include:

The Alaskan

•12 oz. Alaska Coho Salmon

•8 count Alaska Fish Sandwich

•24 oz. Alaska Pollock Fillets

•4 count Alaska Whitefish Burger

•12 oz. Alaskan Grilled Salmon

Additional items:

•1 lb. Alaska Cod Loin

•1 lb. Alaska Cod Fillet

•1 lb. Alaska Coho Salmon

•1 lb. Alaska King Salmon

•1 lb. Alaska Keta Salmon

•1 lb. Alaska Rockfish

•1 lb. Alaska Sole

•1 lb. King Crab

•1 lb. Snow Crab

Federal Register

Draft 2014 Marine Mammal Stock Assessment Reports
A Notice by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 01/29/2015
NMFS reviewed the Alaska, Atlantic, and Pacific regional marine mammal stock assessment reports (SARs) in accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act. SARs for marine mammals in the Alaska, Atlantic, and Pacific regions were revised according to new information. NMFS solicits public comments on the draft 2014 SARs.


UCIDA pres.: Maw doesn’t oppose state-managed fisheries
Says lawsuit is about importance of Magnuson-Stevens Act
Juneau Empire by KATIE MORITZ – January 29, 2015
Recent Board of Fisheries appointee Roland Maw’s relationship with the state government has been mischaracterized, according to the president of the fisheries organization where Maw served as executive director.


Amendment 80 Fleet Takes Further Measures to Reduce Halibut Bycatch
SEAFOODNEWS.COM  (Opinion) by Chris Woodley January 28, 2015

Chris Woodley is the executive director of Groundfish Forum, which represents most of the Amendment 80 fleet

With recent evidence showing a possible decrease in the Bering Sea halibut fishery allocation this year, there has  been a growing concern about halibut bycatch and discard mortality and what to do about it. Both groundfish and halibut fishermen will be affected by the outcomes.

As fishermen, the flatfish trawl catcher-processor fleet (aka Amendment 80 fleet) and the halibut fleet have a lot in common. We each provide healthy, sustainably harvested fish to feed the world and we proudly provide employ- ment to fishing families. We also share a desire to reduce halibut bycatch.

Groundfish species harvested by the Amendment 80 fleet intermingle with halibut and cannot be harvested without some take of halibut. The Amendment 80 fleet maintains a halibut bycatch rate of less than 1 percent and our annual halibut discard mortality has dropped by 509 metric tons (over 1.1 million pounds) since 2005. Significant improvements in bycatch reduction have already been achieved, and efforts to reduce it further should consider potential impacts on our fleet’s fishermen and the Alaska communities that depend on us.

According to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council’s report “Five-Year Review of the Effects of Amendment 80,” the total economic impact of the Amendment 80 fleet is substantial, providing approximately 2,057 fishing jobs aboard our 18 vessels. Additionally, our fleet makes approximately 540 port calls in Alaska annually, creating an additional 2,500 indirect and induced jobs within Alaska. Sales of fuel, groceries, moorage, and time in shipyards are major contributors to fishery support services and vendors in rural Alaska communities. These activities contributes millions of dollars in local and state taxes to Alaska – $4.4 million in fish taxes alone in 2012. A large share of these taxes are reinvested in the coastal communities that we support with our fishing activity.

We know halibut is a shared resource, and take very seriously the importance of keeping discard mortality numbers as low as possible. As Capt. Terry Fisher of the F/V Ocean Peace says, “We do not like to discard fish that are valuable to another fishery. In fact, we do things to avoid these fish – we use excluders on our nets and we run away from high discard areas. All of which has a cost to our company and employees.”

Capt. Bob Hezel of the F/V U.S. Intrepid puts it this way: “We try very hard to catch only our target species, and we are largely successful. The crime is that we are forced by the law to throw away the halibut bycatch. It’s the same for the halibut fishermen, who are also forced by the law to discard their undersized halibut bycatch. Waste is bad, and laws that require fishermen to throw fish away are simply bad laws.”

To develop new ways of reducing the number of halibut we catch and increasing the survival of those we do catch, the Amendment 80 fleet collaborates with fishery scientists, fishery managers, and fishermen from all over the world.

Fortunately many of these efforts have paid off.

These improvements in bycatch reduction are possible because our fleet prioritizes accountability, science-based solutions, and collection of bycatch-related data (observers sample every haul). Armed with data, we are empowered to innovate ways to reduce bycatch and test whether these innovations bear fruit in real-world conditions. While there are things we don’t know and can’t control, the information we gather on our own fleet is powerful.

While we have worked hard for these bycatch improvements we know we must do more. That’s why we continue to research new ways to reduce bycatch and discard mortal- ity.

To that end we are:

• Working with the National Marine Fisheries Service to allow for “deck sorting” to reduce halibut mortality. When deck sorting, halibut are accounted for before being carefully returned to the water as soon as the catch is brought on deck. Previous testing of this method has shown that it significantly reduces halibut mortality.

• Researching new ways to design habitat excluders to further reduce halibut caught in trawl nets.

• Maintaining constant communication between captains, observers, and home offices to monitor and avoid areas of higher bycatch.

We are all fishermen. We all contribute to the economic engine and social fabric of Alaska and we all hate wasting fish. That’s why we will continue to hold ourselves accountable, problem solve, and scientifically test new solutions. At the end of the day, we all agree that keeping our fleets fishing and reducing wasted fish is a worthwhile goal.

Chris Woodley is the executive director of Groundfish Forum, which represents 14 of the 18 trawl catcher-processors that fish flatfish, mackerel, cod, and rockfish in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands. Groundfish Forum members are also members of the Amendment 80 sector and the Alaska Seafood Cooperative.

Greenpeace Targets Costco, Albertson’s in Orwellian Campaign to ‘Bring Balance to the Bering Sea’
SEAFOODNEWS.COM  [The Editors View] by John Sackton  January 26, 2015

“War is peace.”   “Freedom is slavery.”  “Ignorance is strength.”  These are the three classic phrases that writer George Orwell used to show how the totalitarians in his novel, 1984, could use language to not just obscure the truth, but to totally eradicate it.

Greenpeace is now taking a page from that book.  Last week the organization put up a few billboards around Seattle with the slogan “Bring Balance to the Bering Sea.”

The ads are part of a campaign by Greenpeace to target retailers and ask them to restrict purchases of fish from the Bering Sea.

Here is their spokesperson:

“For far too long, industrial fisheries have depleted marine populations and destroyed sensitive ocean habitat, while major retailers have bought and sold that destruction without any accountability,” said Greenpeace Senior Oceans Campaigner Jackie Dragon.

“The billboards and posters throughout Seattle urge the companies that sell Bering Sea seafood to share the responsibility for protecting a reasonable portion of the ocean to sustain marine life and humankind into the future. We’re calling on Costco, Target and Albertsons to step up as leaders by rejecting seafood that is harvested from the world’s largest underwater canyons in the Bering Sea.”

The campaign has run into problems.  Not of obstruction, because NOAA and the North Pacific Management Council were extremely active in taking on research and trying to determine whether the habitats in these canyons needed additional protection.    The problem for Greenpeace was that the scientists found no unique habitats.

Further, NOAA undertook a massive underwater camera survey to document benthic sea life across the Bering Sea, and the results of this study will be presented to the council in June.  But Greenpeace seems afraid to wait, instead ramping up their campaign prior to getting information they may not like.

But the thing that struck me about this campaign was how Orwellian it was.   I went back and looked at Groundfish harvest data from FAO from every major ocean region since 1950.  And guess what.

There is one single area in the world where groundfish harvest levels did not climb to a peak and collapse.  Instead they climbed to a sustainable level and stayed there.  And that is the Bering Sea.

The chart below shows that in every major fishing area except the North Pacific, dominated by Bering Sea landings, there has been a boom and bust.  It happened in the Northeast Atlantic with the collapse of cod, and also in the Northwest Atlantic.  It happened in the Russian zone, the Northwest Pacific with pollock.  And it happened in the groundfish fisheries of the south pacific as well.  The history of each can be seen in our chart.

Data from FAO on total groundfish harvest 1950 to 2012.  The Bering Sea is the only area that has not had a fisheries collapse.

The Bering Sea is the most balanced large scale fishing area in the world.  So when Greenpeace tries to tell retailers that there is a fisheries crisis, that industrial fisheries have depleted marine populations, the one place on the planet where that statement is demonstrably false is the Bering Sea.

The reason is that the Fisheries Management in the North Pacific, and the Bering Sea, has adopted a cap on groundfish harvests, and has consistently kept fishing pressure well below levels needed for long term sustainable yield.

The results are in the data.  When there was a short term decline in total groundfish in 2008 -2010, there was a quick bounce back.  This is a sign of a resilient and balanced ecosystem and is proof that the management here is the most successful in the world.

So when Greenpeace tries to call its campaign ‘Bring Balance to the Bering Sea’, they literally should be laughed off the stage.

Unfortunately, too many retailers, and even the Marine Stewardship Council itself, are unwilling to say the emperor has no clothes.  Yet they should say this.  We cannot have responsible people like seafood buyers and science based certifiers pretending that something that contradicts all facts is simply another part of the NGO spectrum of opinion.

The actual data behind sustainability, defined as preserving the opportunity for future generations to get the same benefits from an ecosystem as our generation today, is shown in spades in the Bering Sea.

No amount of ‘campaigns’ can reverse the facts.  We expect retailers to tell this to Greenpeace.


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

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January 29, 2015