Alaska/Pacific Coast

Early-run Kenai king fishing opened for first time since 2012
Alaska Journal of Commerce by DJ Summers – June 8, 2016
After years of depressed stocks and depressed fishermen, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has opened the early king salmon sport fishery for the first time since 2012.
This accompanies several other early king runs throughout Southcentral and in the Arctic, correlating with warmer marine temperatures.

Commercial fishing update: Despite delay, Dungeness maintain strong economic grip
Chinook Observer by Luke Whittaker – June 7, 2016
PACIFIC NORTHWEST — While some commercial crab fishermen are still trickling into ports in Oregon and Washington, the majority of commercial crabbing has slowed for the season as attention turns toward other fisheries.

Copper River Salmon Marketing Group Funds Additional Sonar Station to Assist ADF&G
SEAFOODNEWS.COM – June 9, 2016
This year, the Copper River/Prince William Sound Marketing Association funded a sonar project, operated by the Prince William Sound Science Center, to enumerate salmon passing through the lower Copper River on their way to the spawning grounds.

Using DIDSON (Dual Frequency Identification Sonar), technicians could “see” salmon swimming upriver. Following the same methodology as the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), salmon were counted by hand as they passed on screen. A daily passage estimate was calculated from these counts and relayed to fishery managers at ADF&G. Because of its location, this sonar counted salmon entering the river days before the Miles Lake sonar.

Why two sonar sites? The Miles Lake sonar project is a well-established management tool operated by ADF&G, and it is located where the Copper River narrows into a single channel. DIDSON transducers are operated on both sides of the river and provide a reliable estimate of total salmon escapement.

The lower Copper River sonar uses one transducer and is located in a main channel about 20 miles nearer to the fishing grounds. Though it ensonifies an unknown proportion of the salmon run, the lower Copper River sonar provides valuable information.

Project leader Dr. Rob Campbell says: “As near as we can tell, this is the first time anyone has tried a sonar this low in the delta. We saw some clear pulses of fish moving through, and they appear to correspond somewhat with counts made at Miles Lake a few days later. We will be looking back at counts from both the lower Copper River sonar and the Miles Lake sonar in the near future to assess what proportion of the run was observed by the new site.”

As Dr. Campbell mentions, operating sonar in the lower Copper River gives an indicator of run strength days before those salmon reach Miles Lake. Fishery managers are always in search of more timely data as salmon enter the river. This early information can help fishery managers make better decisions.

According to Jeremy Botz, gillnet fishery manager at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game: “The additional inriver passage information provided by the lower river sonar helps to fill a long standing management information gap in fish passage trends in the lower Copper River.”

This means better information for fishery management, thus helping to protect the Copper River salmon run for the future.

Commercial fishermen have been fishing the Copper River for well over 100 years. They know that only with careful management has their fishery become the world-renowned pillar of sustainability that it is today. Only by conservation has their fishery become an industry that can support their families for generations to come. This is why they choose to support fishery assessment projects like the lower Copper River sonar.

The Copper River/Prince William Sound Marketing Association, a fisherman funded regional seafood development association, works on behalf of the 500 plus commercial salmon fisherman of Coastal South Central Alaska. The association works to build brand awareness for wild Copper River king, sockeye and coho as well as Prince William Sound sockeye, keta, and pink salmon.


Global collaboration doubles sustainable catch in five years
Marine Stewardship Council – June 8, 2016
A new report published by the Marine Stewardship Council to mark World Oceans Day shows how effective management and improvements made by MSC certified fisheries are delivering measurable, positive impacts in our oceans, from reducing bycatch to advancing scientific understanding of marine environments.

Sitka Sound Science Center awarded $40,000 to design heat pump
KCAW by Katherine Rose – June 9, 2016
Lisa Busch, executive director of the Sitka Sound Science Center, smiles as she accepts a check for $40,000 from Wells Fargo. The money will be used to design a seawater heat pump for the center.

Federal Register

Proposed Information Collection; Comment Request; Pacific Coast Groundfish Trawl Rationalization Program Permit and License Information Collection
A Notice by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 06/10/2016
The Department of Commerce, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork and respondent burden, invites the general public and other Federal agencies to take this opportunity to comment on proposed and/or continuing information collections, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995.

Magnuson-Stevens Act Provisions; General Provisions for Domestic Fisheries; Application for Exempted Fishing Permits

A Notice by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 06/10/2016
The Assistant Regional Administrator for Sustainable Fisheries, Greater Atlantic Region, NMFS (Assistant Regional Administrator), has made a preliminary determination that an exempted fishing permit application contains all of the required information and warrants further consideration. This permit would allow one commercial fishing vessel to test the economic viability of using electric rod and reel gear to target pollock in the Western Gulf of Maine Closure Area, and to temporarily retain undersized catch for measurement and data collection. The privately-funded study would be conducted by a commercial fisherman as a pilot demonstration project.

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bycatch Management in the Bering Sea Pollock Fishery

A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 06/10/2016
NMFS issues this final rule to implement Amendment 110 to the Fishery Management Plan for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (FMP). Amendment 110 and this final rule improve the management of Chinook and chum salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery by creating a comprehensive salmon bycatch avoidance program. This action is necessary to minimize Chinook and chum salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock fishery to the extent practicable while maintaining the potential for the full harvest of the pollock total allowable catch (TAC) within specified prohibited species catch (PSC) limits. Amendment 110 is intended to promote the goals and objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the FMP, and other applicable laws.


Gulf Rationalization: Two Different Points of View
SEAFOODNEWS.COM  by Peggy Parker and John Sackton – June 10, 2016
Kodiak – The June meeting of the North Pacific Management Council in Kodiak is dominated by discussions over two proposals to enable the trawl fleet to meet the bycatch standards for halibut and Chinook salmon which were adopted and strengthened by the council over the past few years.

Beginning in 2012, the Council adopted new bycatch limits for Gulf of Alaska trawl fisheries. These include a 15% cut in the halibut bycatch limit for the trawl fleet (2012), a new cap on Chinook bycatch in the pollock fishery (2013), and a new cap on Chinook bycatch in the non-pollock trawl fisheries (2015).

At the time, the Council acknowledged that current management under limited access, with its attendant race for target species and constraining Prohibited Species Catch (PSC) caps, was untenable and may not be practicable. Poorly designed bycatch limitation programs can shut down entire fisheries, causing major economic losses to the communities that depend on them.

Recognizing this problem, the Council began to develop a new management program that would reduce bycatch while promoting increased utilization of both target and secondary species harvested in the Gulf.  The key issue was how to incentivize vessels to cooperate to reduce bycatch, while at the same time not creating undesirable outcomes that might change the structure of the Gulf trawl fleet.

The Council’s first attempt, Alternative 2, adopted October 2014, was most similar to the Central Gulf of Alaska rockfish cooperative and American Fisheries Act programs, under which the total allowable catch is apportioned as shares to cooperatives comprised of both harvesters and processors.

In October of 2015, the Council added a second option, Alternative 3, that would not allocate allowable catch at all, but would simply allocate prohibited species bycatch.  The reasoning of the council members who supported the new alternative was that a catch share program would have major negative side effects that would ultimately separate the rights to fish from the communities in the Gulf that were dependent on groundfish: Kodiak, Sand Point, and King Cove.

At the February 2016 Council meeting, 30 to 40 trawl captains stopped fishing and flew from Kodiak to Portland, Oregon, to vehemently oppose the new plan.

The Council asked staff to prepare a second paper comparing the various alternatives, especially the catch share plan vs. the bycatch allocation plan, which is the focus of the June Council meeting.

Council staff says the most basic difference between Alternatives 2 and 3 is the allocation of groundfish quota based on qualifying catch history that is associated with each LLP license. Alternative 2 allocates both groundfish and prohibited species catch (PSC) quotas, while Alternative 3 allocates only PSC.

The analysts have concluded that the program would be considered a Limited Access Privilege Program (LAPP) under Alternative 2, but not under Alternative 3.

The analysts are considering Alternative 2 as a LAPP because the MSA frames the definition around the allocation of a privilege to harvest a quantity of fish. Alternative 3 would annually allocate PSC limits to cooperatives (and to a Limited Access sector), but does not allocate any privileges to harvest a percentage of the targeted species quota. The PSC species allocated under Alternative 3 cannot be sold for processing and resold in the global fish market, thus they do not have an ex-vessel value.

The following comments are based on interviews with four people on opposing sides of the issue, as they state some of their reasons for their positions.  The people we interviewed were Sam Cotten, ADF&G commissioner and member of the Council, Glenn Reed, President  of the Pacific Seafood Processors Association, Duncan Fields, a Council member from Kodiak who has long held positons questioning the costs of catch share programs, and Julie Bonney, Executive Director of the Groundfish Forum, an association representing the trawl fleet in the Gulf.

Sam Cotten:
“We were looking for an alternative to Alternative 2 — not a catch share or bycatch share plan. We responded to a proposal we didn’t like. There were big problems with Alternative 2, but rather than criticizing it, we thought ‘If we’re really just talking about bycatch reduction, let’s allocate bycatch share to ensure that one part of the industry can’t ruin the show for everybody. Right now, one person can go out and catch bycatch and shut down the fishery for everybody.”

“Catch shares inherently will seek consolidation to the point of most efficiencies in an operation. As you try to achieve efficiencies, the push will be to consolidate to cut expenses.  Proponents [of Alternative 2] say they’ll put consolidation limits into the plan, but that’s not to say that next year there won’t be someone saying they need to release them. There is an inherent economic incentive to push for consolidation and cut costs.

“Alternative 3 was an offer to consider a different approach. Fishing rights are a big deal, someone else buys them, someone else has more money than them, eventually “access privileges flight” happens. This hurts coastal communities.”

Glenn Reed:
“Alternative 2 was requested of the industry, accepted on its own merits and addresses the purpose and needs, and problem statement to the Council. It is responsive to Magnusen-Stevens Act requirements to consider history and other elements of the fishery. It is a broad-based and publicly vetted plan, as the council originally wanted, to provide a solution that would allow the trawl fleet to meet bycatch targets and maximize harvest value to fishermen, processors, and communities.

“Alternative 3 was developed outside of the public process. The council didn’t request Alternative 3, it was dropped in without any access to or vetting of it by any public procedure.  It suggests some kind of equal distribution of bycatch to every license holder whether they were in the fishery or not. And in fact some have been in the fishery for decades, and some have not fished in years, and they are all treated equally.

“It monetizes licenses that currently have no value and puts a value on them. It does the opposite of the stated goals of the Council.”

Duncan Fields:
“This program is about bycatch management. It requires you as a vessel operator to manage your bycatch allocation to your benefit. You can improve your market share by how you manage salmon and halibut, as opposed to focusing on target species and hoping to avoid bycatch.

“Bycatch is the currency of access to the resource itself.

“It makes the presumption that catch shares should not be awarded in perpetuity and when managing bycatch the participants should be able to come and go from the fishery without a preassigned catch share amount.

“Alternative 3 considers the awarding of bycatch not based entirely on historical use or participation in the fishery. The alternative considers the awarding of bycatch, for the first time, as the basis for entry. We have, in the past, designated some magic qualifying years and created market share entitlements that are based on those designated years.

“Within Alternative 3, we can divide bycatch on criteria other than history or prior use of bycatch. For instance, we can divide some portion evenly to all participating LLPs and some based on Gulf dependence or some based on cooperation within the cooperative structure to share information on bycatch.

“Those differences are really significant in terms of rationalizing a fishery.”

Julie Bonney
“Alternative 2 is the only one that meets the objectives of the Council. It stops the race for fish and develops fair and equitable allocations based on investment and dependency on the fishery that stabilizes the fishery.

“Alternative 3 will completely shuffle the deck on who’s going to be successful and who’s not going to be successful because the allocation system reallocates the fishery across participants, which creates huge gaming opportunities to change allocations.  Alternative 3 does not stop the race for fish and creates disincentives for participants to work together to minimize bycatch.

“Alternative 2 recognizes the participants’ dependency on fisheries, creates the right incentives to minimize bycatch through the cooperatives’ contracts.

“It would benefit not only Kodiak, but King Cove and Sand Point, providing close to year-round processing work. So for a community like Kodiak, we’ve got 1900 jobs associated with labor that live here. They need year-round processing.”

Sam Cotten:
What about the race for fish?

“In Alaska we call that a competitive fishery. We see a lot of those. We have competitive fisheries in a lot of areas, and there’s a bycatch limit involved and we have prosecuted it without exceeding caps, and catch the TAC for targeted species.

“There are some problems with the race for fish but they have more to do with better efficiencies, or better business plans, and less to do with bycatch.

“Allocating targeted species will have an impact on race for fish and the State of Alaska would consider allocating target species but not the way it’s done in Alternative 2.

“It creates barriers to fisheries. Look at the analysis–whoever has the most money has the access to fisheries, and typically that’s going to be some form of corporate ownership.

“Alternative 3 was an offer to consider a different approach.

“We presume this isn’t just to accommodate a bycatch concern, it will probably have other impacts on other gear types.

“Whatever proposal you lay on the table will have flaws in it. There’s not likely to be any program that doesn’t have flaws.  You can always choose to do nothing which is what we’ve been doing for 25 years on this subject.

“If people think the absolute bottom line is to create allocation for target species, some of the advocates would like to monetize these fishing rights and sell them. They will make a lot of money and retire.

“There could be hundreds of millions of dollars in fishing rights.

“Permanent ownership of a fishing right based on the fact that you fished certain years, is a bonus to the recipient, and whatever that value is, the next person in the fishery will have to pay it.  The majority of the owners of the fishing rights that would have enjoyed these benefits don’t live here. They’ve fished here but they don’t live here.”

Glenn Reed
“Alternative 2 provides opportunities for the participants in the fisheries to improve utilization of the resources they’re currently catching. It ends the race for fish which provides lots of opportunity to improve utilization and to expand product forms. It provides the opportunity to expand by using the same amount of PSC to go into fisheries that are not currently brought to shore, bring additional resources to processors and strengthen the economy of coastal communities.  This benefits vessels, processing plants, and the service sector.

“It provides an opportunity for the Council to put a program in place that manages the levels of participation from harvesters and processors. They can put caps in place that allow them to manage the fishery in the most efficient way.

“Ending the race for fish is a good thing for the environment, economy, employment, and the state.”

We thought Alternative 2 takes the approach that the benefits that are created are shared among all participants: Harvesters, Processors,  the Community at large.  This strenghtens the industry and the businesses that make it up.  Kodiak has a unique and diverse collection of processing facilities, and policies that undermine their long term viability hurt the community every bit as much as shutting down fishing due to a poorly designed bycatch program.

Duncan Fields
“What does a person earn when they fish? When a trawler leaves the dock in 2016, they’re hoping to catch a particular species and a particular bycatch and their expectation is they’re going to be paid a certain amount for the target species.  We can hope and speculate that they will earn more than that, but in fact there is no guarantee in law or in practice that they will earn anything more. Catch history is not a guarantee.

“If we talk about earning history, what makes the set of years you choose any more important or significant than the set of years your father, grandfather, or Alaska natives who have fished that resource for millennia, have earned in their history?

“To say I earned it is like saying I won the lottery and I earned it from the money and time I spent buying the lottery ticket.”

“What is fair? Currently anyone with an LLP can step into the fishery and go fishing. In essence they get a proportional or disproportional share.  Equal allocation is a more fair distribution than the current situation where new members to the fishery could come in and take lots of bycatch or quota.

“I’m not advocating that we only look at one criteria or another. The analysis shows that there are advantages and disadvantages to equal share type distributions.

“My suggestion is that we don’t do all of one or all of another, but that we consider distribution of PSC based on several critera — four or five — which could include, for illustration, a portion of PSC, say 25% based on equal distribution, 25% based on historical catch, 25% based on your economic dependence on GOA fisheries, and 25% based on continued engagement and active participation in the fishery.

“With active participation quota, you only get it if you are on the vessel that you own or have an interest in, and are fishing the quota share. Another criteria could be your behavior — are you sharing information with the coop? Also, how is your bycatch rate compared with other coops?

“The fundamental concept is that the bycatch distributed in Alternative 3 is an annual allocation of bycatch. It’s a catch share for a single year. This is very very different from Alternative 2.

“We understand that if you’re a trawler in the GOA and you’re offered a catch share program it will improve economic value. The whole issue is how much value and how disruptive this will be.

“I recognize it’s true that a traditional catch share program has advantages too, but I have to ask ‘Is it the best thing for the community?  Does it improve the economic value of the area?’”

“Another key difference in Alternative 3 is openness to entry. For a harvester looking for a new fishery or for a processor looking for new product, it’s specifically designed to have fluidity — it would allow a new processor to come in and process groundfish. What’s good for Alaska communities and what’s good for Alaska as a whole?

Julie Bonney
“Alternative 2 includes consolidation limits for harvesters — ownership limits and harvesting caps — and processing limits that any one processing entity can do.

“Alternative 3 doesn’t have use caps, no processing consolidation limits, no regional landing requirements.  The harvest limit is based on PSC usage not on groundfish catch.

“We learned from the crab rationalization program what worked and didn’t work. Crab had no consolidation limits, so those were specifically added to our proposal.

“Alternative 2 contains community elements, Alternative 3 doesn’t. It really doesn’t change the way the fishery operates because of the race for fish. We think there would be early closures under Alternative 3 that would affect King Cove, Kodiak and Sand Point.”

“So for a community like Kodiak, we’ve got 1900 jobs associated with labor who live in Kodiak. About half of those jobs come from groundfish. They need year-round processing. Groundfish account for half of seafood labor income, 111 million, and half of seafood output which was $187 million.

“The majority of groundfish — 84% in 2014 — is harvested with trawl gear. Trawl vessels deliver 351 million lb. of groundfish annually.

“This is not a mom and pop fishery. A permit is a quarter million dollars, with a range that goes up to $1.4 million.  A reasonable platform is going to be between $2-3 million with the gear, electronics, excluder devices, and everything else you need before you start fishing.”

“New guys who enter the fishery typically come up off the back deck and into the wheelhouse. Then they’re offered part ownership because the skipper/owner wants to keep them around.

“The status quo now is a very expensive fishery to get into and only those with deep pockets feel they can invest.

“Alternative 3 even further diminishes the likelihood of that happening since the proposed fishery management system creates so much uncertainty and increased costs to participants.

“First of all you’re going to invest in something that has certainty to it. Alternative 2 creates more certainty in the industry so they can have more certainty for the long haul.

“If you end the race for fish and spread the fishery throughout the entire year, it’s likely they’re (the vessel operator and crew) going to want to stay in Kodiak and improve the economy there.

“Alternative 2 is structured to clean up the fishery.  It maximizes retention, builds a coop so they can manage individual vessel behavior, and maximizes benefits of the groundfish fishery for the broader benefit of Kodiak’s community and the processing sector.

“The processing sector in town is huge. Moving from a resident labor force to a transient workforce would be a bad result for Kodiak.

“Final point — not one participant involved in the trawl industry thinks Alternative 3 will work. Not one.”


Adidas will release shoes made from ocean plastic this year
The limited-edition Adidas x Parley will birth a bonafide product soon.
Engadget by Aaron Souppouris – June 8, 2016
Adidas is committing to integrating recycled ocean waste into a general-release shoe this year. The sportswear company showed off a shoe with a 3D-printed midsole made from up-cycled ocean plastic late last year, as part of a collaboration with Parley, an anti-ocean-pollution organization. That was a one-off concept shoe, but off the back of that the company is now showing off a product titled Adidas x Parley.

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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June 10, 2016