Alaska/Pacific Coast

Trollers call for chinook management ‘with a scalpel, not a sledgehammer’
KCAW by Robert Woolsey – January 2, 2018
Fishermen in Sitka are pushing back against a proposed king salmon conservation plan that could impose deep restrictions on fishing seasons in 2018.
https://www.alaskapublic.org/2018/01/02/trollers-call-for-chinook-management-with-a-scalpel-not-a-sledgehammer/

North Pacific Council Issues Alert to Gulf Cod Fishermen
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – January 3, 2018
In big red letters, a one-page alert warns the Gulf of Alaska cod fleets:  “Attention Cod Fishermen! 80% Decrease in Catch Limit for 2018” before describing what the massive cut in landings will mean to all gear types in federal and state waters of the Gulf.

At its December 2017 meeting, the North Pacific Fishery Management Council approved a Gulf-wide catch limit for Pacific cod at 18,000 mt, or about 39.7 million pounds for the 2018 season that starts January 20. Last year’s quota for P-cod in the Gulf for both the federal and state waters was about 82,000 mt.

“Recognizing that cod fishermen in the Central and Western Gulf of Alaska need to quickly get this information to adjust their fishing plans for 2018, the Council is providing the following tables that compare the 2018 catch limits to the 2017 limits by area, fishery, and season,” reads the one-page flyer.

The biggest producers are trawl vessels in the Western Gulf, a fleet that landed 6,861 mt in the A season last year and 2,650 mt in the 2017 B season. Those totals will be 1,543 mt in the A season and 596 in the B season this year.

Central Gulf trawlers are suffering a similar fate: catch limits for the A season are 1,275 mt in 2018 compared to 6,933 mt last year. That fleet is allowed 1,233 mt for this year’s B season, compared to 6,708 mt last year.

The flyer covers jig, hook and line, and pot gear throughout the Gulf and includes the breakdown for state catch limits by area. The two most productive areas historically in state waters are the South Alaska Peninsula and Kodiak. Last year’s catch limit for the South Peninsula (jig and pot gear combined) was 10,887 mt and for Kodiak was 5,523 mt.  This year, it is 2,425 mt and 1,015 mt respectively.

The smallest fishery is the Central Gulf jig fleet, which got 331 mt last year. This year, the combined total for A and B season will be 61 mt.

The flyer can be found here.

http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1087662/North-Pacific-Council-Issues-Alert-to-Gulf-Cod-Fishermen

National

NOAA Fisheries Announces FY18 BREP Funding Opportunity
Saving Seafood – December 29, 2017
The following was released by NOAA Fisheries:
NOAA Fisheries is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Bycatch Reduction Engineering Program! Today we announce the availability of approximately $2.4 million for projects that increase collaborative research and partnerships for innovation in bycatch reduction. The 2018 federal funding opportunity is now open. Pre-proposals are due by January 31, 2018, and full proposals due March 30, 2018.
http://www.savingseafood.org/science/noaa-fisheries-announces-fy18-brep-funding-opportunity/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+SavingSeafoodRss+%28Saving+Seafood%29

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Pacific Cod by Vessels Using Jig Gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the Gulf of Alaska
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 01/03/2018
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for Pacific cod by vessels using jig 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 2018 Pacific cod total allowable catch apportioned to vessels using jig gear in the Central Regulatory Area of the GOA.
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/01/03/2017-28389/fisheries-of-the-exclusive-economic-zone-off-alaska-pacific-cod-by-vessels-using-jig-gear-in-the

Opinion

New Research on How Ocean Acidity Harms Salmon Raises Red Flags for Alaskans
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Anchorage Daily News] by Jerry McCune – January 3, 2018
Fishing families and businesses across Alaska are veterans at keeping an eye out for change — day-to-day and season-to-season. The largest single employer in the state of Alaska, and a food source for millions, the successes of Alaskan seafood harvests rise and fall with a dynamic marine food web. New research is shedding light on a big change within that system — ocean acidification — and Alaska’s salmon fishermen are watching closely.

Researchers from NOAA and the University of Washington have found that wild salmon runs may be affected by rising ocean acidity — a well documented global trend that is particularly pronounced in the cold-water, carbon-rich waters off Alaska’s vast coastline.

The ocean naturally absorbs carbon dioxide, which triggers a chemical reaction increasing acidity. This process has accelerated rapidly in recent years, with varying effects on marine life. Most recently, researchers found that increased acidity negatively impacts salmon’s smelling ability, which they rely on for a variety of essential functions, including avoiding predators.

United Fishermen of Alaska’s Salmon Habitat Information Program (SHIP) co-hosted a panel on ocean acidification at the November Pacific Marine Expo in Seattle, gathering experts to discuss acidification and fisheries. This was in direct response to fishermen’s concerns, voiced through a 2016 UFA survey on salmon habitat that polled more than 500 Alaska fishermen. The second highest habitat concern fishermen noted was climate-related changes and impacts, including ocean acidification. Research developments since that survey continue to raise red flags for fishermen around the world, and the recent links to salmon have hit home in the North Pacific.

For the thousands of Alaskans dependent on salmon for food and income, as well as countless chefs, grocers and other consumers across the globe, this is sobering news. Alaska’s salmon fishermen, who add almost 33,000 full-time equivalent national jobs and $1.7 billion in national labor income, are accustomed to the natural ebb and flow of returning salmon. Yet, we are deeply concerned about state and national implications of an ecosystem shift that could impact such fundamental functions on a species wide level. This is why we need to know more about what is happening within our ocean’s chemistry — what can we expect as it continues to absorb carbon dioxide, what impacts marine species are likely to face in the coming years, and how fishermen can adapt to them.

This developing research field has provided valuable information about impacts on a wide variety of species, including reduced growth and increased mortality in Alaskan crab species, shellfish and essential food web elements like pteropods. Researchers are working hard to develop a baseline of ocean acidity data to better monitor changes but for now, we are all left with more questions than answers. Now more than ever we need the information that scientific research provides, so that we can better prepare for our fishing futures in Alaska.

While ocean acidification has been a prominent topic of concern for years, these new developments have Alaskan fishermen asking ever-harder questions about the future of our marine resources. UFA’s SHIP program is working to respond to those concerns and provide essential information on acidification to our ocean dependent people. Together, fishermen will continue to work with researchers, decision-makers and communities to address this issue and its impacts on Alaskan fisheries.
http://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1087624/New-Research-on-How-Ocean-Acidity-Harms-Salmon-Raises-Red-Flags-for-Alaskans

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
Office Manager
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Phone: 206.281.1667
E-mail: pspafish@gmail.com; Website: www.pspafish.net
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January 3, 2018