Alaska/Pacific Coast

Size of Bristol Bay Run Will Be in Upper Range of Forecast, Likely 50-55 Million Sockeye
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – July 9, 2018
The most recent Port Moller Test Fishery catches plus escapement data indicates this year’s total Bristol Bay sockeye run (catch plus escapement) will likely be at least 50-55 million.

The magnitude and timing of the world’s largest salmon run changes with each day’s data, but the most recent minimum estimate would put the 2018 season in the top two, since 1997. Bristol Bay’s largest run since 1997 returned in 2015 at 58.8 million sockeye.

That was the total run. The harvest from that run in 2015 was 37.9 million sockeye, the second largest since 1997. The following year, in 2016, Bristol Bay pegged the largest harvest in 20 years at 39.4 million.

With a total catch to date of 16.6 million and the assumption that the run is still building, the final catch numbers could well be above the mid-point harvest forecast of 37.59 million sockeye.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game gives a range for the total run in the bay, and a point estimate for the total catch. The 2018 run size ranges from 40.7 million sockeye to 61.9 million. The harvest point estimate is 37.6 million sockeye.

Dr. Scott Rayborn’s latest interpretation of the data, written last Saturday, July 7, indicated that the run should “build inshore through about July 12 before tapering on July 13-14.”

“We expect the daily catch and escapement will bounce around these daily projections, but if on average it is correct, then the total run would be 47 million by July 14,” Raborn said. That is well within the pre-season total run forecast range.

“We will need to know what the remainder of the test fishing indices look like to see how big the tail may be beyond July 14,” he explained. “We only predict the catch plus escapement (C+E) that is between Port Moller and the inshore districts.”

Catches in the Nushagak District account for the lion’s share of the bay’s landings so far. Over 14 million sockeye have been caught to date, with 3.4 million fish landed in the other districts.

The total catch for sockeye from all areas in the state is now just over 19.4 million salmon.
https://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1109257/Size-of-Bristol-Bay-Run-Will-Be-in-Upper-Range-of-Forecast-Likely-50-55-Million-Sockeye

Naknek-Kvichak District closes to boost Kvichak River escapement
KDLG by Avery Lill – July 7, 2018
The Kvichak River is likely coming in below forecast. The Naknek River Special Harvest Area will open tonight, and drift boats from the district will have the opportunity to fish exclusively Naknek salmon. ADF&G hopes that, with the larger district closed, enough sockeye will make it up the Kvichak River to meet the escapement goal.
http://kdlg.org/post/naknek-kvichak-district-closes-boost-kvichak-river-escapement

Fishing fleet packs Amalga Harbor
Juneau Empire by Kevin Gullufsen – July 6, 2018
On down year for pinks, seiners line up for hatchery chums
Drivers out the road might encounter a somewhat new sight on Thursdays this month: A small armada of commercial seine boats, fishing in close proximity, yards away from the Juneau road system.
http://juneauempire.com/news/local/2018-07-05/fishing-fleet-packs-amalga-harbor

International

Ukrainian Seafood Buyers Want To Connect With Unalaska’s Fisheries

KUCB by Laura Kraegel – July 9, 2018
International seafood buyers are scheduled to visit Unalaska this month, but they don’t hail from a massive importer like China or Japan.
http://kucb.org/post/ukrainian-seafood-buyers-want-connect-unalaskas-fisheries


ANALYSIS: Growing Live King Crab Demand Continues Overseas; U.S. Market Inventories Thin

SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Janice Schreiber – July 10, 2018
King crab imports out of Russia have been steadily below year-to-date levels throughout 2018.

Russian king crab is down 40.1 percent YTD since the beginning of the year and the chances of the U.S. market seeing additional king crab, especially red king crab, before this fall is slim. Live king crab demand in Asia; Japan, Korea, and China is growing and the U.S. market is simply getting out bid.

Replacement product overseas continues to be reported to be high and has been reported this way since the early spring. Inventory positions here in the U.S. market were such that the U.S. buyers did not feel the need or pressure to purchase crab at that time. The language from the suppliers during the spring was that product was thinning; some buyers stepped up to the plate, while others did not. Now, currently in the market, we are seeing mid-sized red king crab prices climb to 52-week highs and inventories are thin and thinning.

Overseas in Russia, the fishing fleet has the capability to either catch and process frozen king crab (or snow crab) or catch live crab and deliver it directly to the Asian markets. When a boat goes out to fish, its determined prior to leaving what that boat will catch. The boats can not catch both live and process frozen simultaneously. Its another interesting dynamic for the U.S. importers of king crab to deal with.

The phenomena of live crab demand growing in overseas Asian markets has been going on for quite some time. It looks to be a new reality in the world market and an additional factor many buyers will have to face when planning their crab purchases.
https://www.seafoodnews.com/Story/1109387/ANALYSIS-Growing-Live-King-Crab-Demand-Continues-Overseas-US-Market-Inventories-Thin

 

Environment/Science

Research to Reduce Uncertainty in Pollock Size-at-Age Changes Wins S-K Grant
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by Peggy Parker – July 6, 2018
A statistical research project to improve the accuracy of predicting pollock biomass within a changing ecosystem was one of 38 projects to win Saltonstall-Kennedy grants. The pollock size-at-age project was funded at just under $200,000. It will start this September and go through August 2020.

Following the widely reported marine heatwave in the Gulf of Alaska and eastern Bering Sea in 2014-2017, average weights for age classes 3-7 year old pollock declined sharply.

These “extremely low average weights” meant more than immediate economic losses to processors and harvesters — they also meant higher levels of uncertainty in pollock management. If weights are less predictable, uncertainty in management reference points, like maximum sustainable yield and overfishing levels, increases.

The lead scientist on the project is Michael Litzow, Adjunct Professor at UAFairbank’s College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences in Kodiak.

“Predicting weight in the fishery for quota setting purposes is becoming more difficult under current climate change patterns, at least for the GOA stock,” Litzow explained.

“Although the GOA pollock stock remains viable, it is showing unusual characteristics under the climate anomaly (skewed sex ratios, unusual and divergent abundance patterns in different surveys) that suggest that the fishery has entered a period of heightened uncertainty,” he added.

“In the EBS, similar rapid change in weight at age has not been observed. However, estimating weight at age is one of the main sources of uncertainty for setting management goals for that fishery,” Litzow noted.

Stock assessment models estimate population size in numbers of individuals, but important management benchmarks, including quotas, reference points for maximum sustained yield and overfishing levels, and long-term projections of stock status for use in management evaluation, all depend on converting number of animals to a biomass weight, using estimates of mean weight that are made outside of the assessment model.

Improved estimates of weight at age have been identified as a leading management goal for both the GOA and EBS stocks. Estimates that account for density-independent (environmental, competition) or density-dependent effects would be a big plus.

“The central benefit for coastal communities from this project is improved management of Alaskan pollock stocks – specifically, reduced uncertainty in quota setting through improved estimates and predictions of weight at age,” Litzow said.

Inputs for the models will include measures of environmental conditions, density dependence, and estimates of competitor biomass. Different statistical approaches will be used to develop improved weight at age estimates, and the statisticians will evaluate these approaches in their ability to make sample predictions of weight at age.

“This is exactly the characteristic of model predictive skill that is required for reducing uncertainty when setting quotas and other management reference points,” he said.

The group includes the lead authors of the assessment models for the GOA and EBS pollock stocks quota-setting process. Litzow’s co-investigator, Franz Mueter, sits on the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council Scientific and Statistical Committee, which will allow their results to be directly integrated into the management process.

“The primary benefit of the proposed project for coastal communities is reduced management uncertainty for economically critical fisheries during a period of very rapid climate change,” Litzow said.

Stock assessment models estimate population size in numbers of individuals, but important management benchmarks, including quotas, reference points for maximum sustained yield and overfishing levels, and long-term projections of stock status for use in management evaluation, all depend on converting number of animals to a biomass weight, using estimates of mean weight that are made outside of the assessment model.

Improved estimates of weight at age have been identified as a leading management goal for both the GOA and EBS stocks. Estimates that account for density-independent (environmental, competition) or density-dependent effects would be a big plus.

Specific objectives of the study are to:

1) generate improved year-ahead and two-year ahead predictions of weight at age for converting abundance estimates to biomass for setting quotas and management reference points;
2) produce longer-term predictive models to support management evaluation under longer-term scenarios of climate change; and
3) produce stable R scripts (statistical programming language) to allow weight at age estimates to be updated for future management cycles.

S-K funding for the 2019 awards was announced in late May by NOAA. The goal of the S-K program is to fund projects that address the needs of fishing communities, optimize economic benefits by building and maintaining sustainable fisheries, and increase other opportunities to keep working waterfronts viable.

Last May, NOAA announced the FY19 solicitation for projects that fall into one of three priorities:

• Promotion, Development, and Marketing

• Marine Aquaculture

• Support of Science that Maximizes Fishing Opportunities, Revenue and Jobs in U.S. Fisheries While Ensuring the Long-Term Sustainability of Marine Resources

For more information on applying for S-K grants, NOAA is hosting a webinar on July 12, 2018. Details are here.

 

Federal Register

Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meeting
A Notice by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 07/09/2018
The Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (Pacific Council) is sponsoring a meeting via webinar to review a new method proposed to improve catch estimation methods in sparsely sampled mixed stock fisheries. The Methodology Review webinar is a follow-up to a March 28-29, 2018 Methodology Review. The webinar meeting is open to the public.
https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/07/09/2018-14628/pacific-fishery-management-council-public-meeting

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July 10, 2018