Alaska/Pacific Coast

Fish Fight Lands Commercial Harvesters and Conservationists Back in Court

Fishermen’s News Online – December 30, 2014

A federal fisheries decision that put commercial harvesters back into waters put off limits four years ago to reduce competition between them and Steller sea lions hungering for the same fish has prompted another federal lawsuit.

The environmental law firm Earthjustice filed a lawsuit this past week on behalf of the conservation groups Oceana and Greenpeace, saying that the decision by National Marine Fisheries Service undermines protections for the Steller sea lion population in the Western Aleutians who are already endangered and protected under the Endangered Species Act.

ADF&G Announcements

Groundfish bycatch in the 2015 commercial salmon troll fishery

2015 Southeast Alaska lingcod allocation announcement

2015 Southeast Alaska directed Pacific cod fishery announcement.

Salmon management plans are working in Upper Cook Inlet, but there’s more to do

Alaska Dispatch by Larry Engel – January 1, 2015
Fishing for silver salmon this year in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough was the best in a long time. The Little Susitna River had its largest coho escapement since 2006, according to the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. Fish Creek, likewise, enjoyed its strongest coho run since 2002 and also opened to dipnetting for sockeye for the first time in four years. Once again, there were fish in the rivers, and Alaskans were enjoying them.


CHILE: Significant increase in salmon exports

FIS by Analina Murias – January 05, 2015

Chile exported 506,637 tonnes of salmon in the first 11 months of this year, for which it earned USD 3.98 billion in revenue.

These figures represent increases of 4 and 25 per cent yoy, compared with 484,261 tonnes exported a year earlier for USD 3,18 billion, according to a report by InfoTrade for Aqua.

The average price of salmon between January and November 2014 was USD 7.85 per kilogram, that is to say, 19 per cent more than during the same period last year (USD 6.57/kg).

EU fish discard ban comes into force, starting with mackerel and herring

SEAFOODNEWS.COM [Business Green] – January 5, 2014
The UK has hailed the first step towards a full ban on the controversial practice of fish “discards” whereby fishing vessels tip unwanted fish back into the sea.

January 1st marked the date when fishermen targeting pelagic quota species such as mackerel, whiting, sprat and herring will have to land all the quota fish they catch, with a similar rule for demersal fish including cod and hake set to come into force at the start of 2016.

The move follows three years of hard-fought negotiations in Brussels to reform the Common Fisheries Policy, which was marked by a high profile public campaign to bring an end to the practice of discarding and tighten restrictions on overfishing. However, many of the new policy proposals faced opposition from the fishing industry, while the UK government reportedly led resistance to moves to cut the amount of time fishermen can spend at sea.

Ministers argued the new approach would allow fishing vessels to fish more selectively, helping to avoid discards and allowing full quotas to be caught. They also hailed wider reforms, including a legally binding commitment to fishing at sustainable levels and decentralised decision making that allows member states to agree policy measures appropriate to their fisheries.

However, a two-year delay of sanctions for violating the new discard ban and the potential for the ban to be debated again later this year prompted accusations from conservation groups that the regulations are not sufficiently stringent.

UK Fisheries Minister George Eustice welcomed the ban, but admitted far more needs to be done to end discards for good.

“The long fight to reform the broken Common Fisheries Policy has been won and today marks a significant milestone in our commitment to fish more sustainably by ending the shameful practice of discarding perfectly good fish,” he said.

“But our work is not over. While it’s widely recognised pelagic fishing operations have relatively low discard rates we will continue to work with fishermen to help them adjust to the new reforms and make the transition as smooth as possible.”


Alaska’s toasty temperatures in 2014 worry observers

LA Times by Maria Ganga – January 2, 2015

Alaska's warmer temperatures

 The biggest state in America, home to more ocean coastline than all others combined, has just set another record. This one, however, is nothing to cheer.

For the first time in recorded history, temperatures in Anchorage did not drop below zero once in an entire calendar year. In comparison, Alaska’s largest city had 14 days below zero in the 2013 calendar year and 32 days in 2012. The average is 29 days.

Recent increases in survival of western Steller sea lions in Alaska and implications for recovery

Endangered Species Research by Fritz, Towell, Gelatt, Johnson, and Loughlin

ABSTRACT: Survival rates of endangered western stock Steller sea lions Eumetopias jubatus east of Samalga Pass (~170° W) have rebounded to nearly the same levels estimated for the 1970s prior to their decline in abundance. We estimated survival of sea lions hot-branded as pups (N = 1449) in 2000−2005 using Cormack-Jolly-Seber mark-recapture models and sighting data collected through 2011. Survivorship to Age 7 yr was greater for females (range: 0.352−0.386) than males (0.228−0.275), but was similar for each sex across the study area. Survival was lowest in the first year and increased through Age 4+ yr for both sexes in the eastern Gulf of Alaska (144−150° W). However, to the west, first-year survivorship was greater or equal to that of Year 2, and the difference was generally greater for males than females. Regional differences in the pattern of early survival could reflect spatial variability in early life history (e.g. duration of maternal care, growth rate) or habitat characteristics (e.g. prey availability, rates of predation). Population models indicate that natality of the increasing population east of Samalga Pass in 2000−2012 may not be significantly different from rates estimated for the 1970s prior to the decline in overall western abundance. Given current information, western Steller sea lions may satisfy the stock-wide demographic down-listing (to threatened status) criterion by 2015. However, due to continued abundance declines west of Samalga Pass, where no survival data are currently available, it is less certain that the western stock’s regional down-listing criteria will be achieved.

What is the MJO, and why do we care?

NOAA Climate by Jon Gottschalck -Wednesday, December 31, 2014

 The articles posted on this blog have described ENSO, its regional and global impacts, and the challenge of forecasting it, among several other topics. Here we introduce another important player on the tropical stage: the Madden-Julian Oscillation, or MJO. While the MJO is a lesser-known phenomenon, it can have dramatic impacts in the mid-latitudes. Several times a year the MJO is a strong contributor to various extreme events in the United States, including Arctic air outbreaks during the winter months across the central and eastern portions of the United States.

New study finds Alaskans familiar with ocean acidification, not aware of risks to fisheries

Monday, December 22, 2014
New research published in Marine Policy from the first Alaska-focused study on public understanding and awareness of ocean acidification risk shows that Alaskans are three times more aware of ocean acidification than Americans in general.  However, Alaskans have difficulty seeing ocean acidification as an immediate risk, and the direct risks to Alaska’s fisheries are still not well understood. The research, “Gauging perceptions of ocean acidification in Alaska,” can be read online.


Federal Register

List of Fisheries for 2015

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) publishes its final List of Fisheries (LOF) for 2015, as required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). The final LOF for 2015 reflects new information on interactions between commercial fisheries and marine mammals.


Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association

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January 5, 2015