Alaska/Pacific Coast

Industry funding increasingly crucial to science in Bristol Bay
Bristol Bay Time by Molly Dischner – June 10, 2016
This summer, as in the past, the Bristol Bay salmon fishery will require money from industry to maintain the precise counts and other data sources that Alaska prides itself on collecting as the basis of its management efforts.

‘Catch of the Season’ available in Fairbanks again this year
News Miner by Kris Capps – June 13, 2015
FAIRBANKS — Fairbanksans loved last year’s pilot program of “Catch of the Season” salmon shares from the Bristol Bay fishery, so the Alaska Marine Conservation Council (AMCC) is doing it again.

Yes, Copper River Seafoods just posted a preseason price. And yes, it’s encouraging.
Up to $1.25 for “Excelent Fish” caught this week, going out fresh to a market that is hungry for the product, says CRS. Company says it intends to post a price every Sunday for the week ahead.
KDLG by Dave Bendinger – June 13, 2016
Copper River Seafoods Bristol Bay manager Vojtech Novak posted a price for this week’s sockeye catch, and says he intends to post a weekly price every Sunday. It’s an unusual step for one of Bristol Bay’s buyers to list a price before the catch comes in.

Commercial Dungeness fishery opens Wednesday
KHNS by Jillian Rogers – June 13, 2016
The summer commercial Dungeness crab fishery in Southeast opens Wednesday at 8 a.m. After a record season two years ago, and an average catch in last season, officials are anticipating more crabbers on the water this week.

Copper River Sockeye Harvest Looks to be Way Below Forecast, Escapement Levels Above Minimums
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton – June 13, 2016

The first pulse of Sockeye for the Copper River drift fishery has been considerably below forecast.

Through week 24 (6/11), the total sockeye harvest was 451,000 fish, vs. the five year average of 1.16 million, and last year’s harvest of 967,000.

Sockeye returns mostly consist of 4 and 5 years old fish, and both 2011 and 2012 runs were way above expectations for the Copper River, with harvests and escapements exceeding preseason forecasts.

This and other factors, mostly the sibling relationship to last year’s run, led to this years preseason forecast of a commercial harvest of 1.6 million fish.

However, the charts show the run is falling way short. The seventh period harvest was 55,822 sockeye vs. and anticipated harvest of 111,154 sockeye.  The eight period harvest (last Thursday) was lower at 43,780 fish.

Escapement levels are above minimum guidelines, but at the low end of the acceptable range.

There is a secondary pulse of sockeye based on some hatchery fish and runs to other Copper River districts, but unless this later pulse is spectacular, the overall outllook for the total Copper River sockeye harvest is getting worse.

This season will likely end up below both the five and ten year average.


Project aims to simplify salmon chilling
Bristol Bay Time by Molly Dischner – June 10, 2016
Ice is an integral part of many salmon boats’ chilling operations, but getting it isn’t so easy: producing and distributing ice to the fleet is a major undertaking with many players each summer. A recent study looked at making one piece of the puzzle — creating the ice — a little simpler, but that doesn’t mean any changes are on the way right now.

Univ. of Washington Rejects Greenpeace Smear of Prof. Ray Hilborn, Says He Fully Discloses Funding
SEAFOODNEWS.COM  By John Sackton – June 13, 2016
When Greenpeace is caught denying scientific consensus, their reaction is to try and claim that the scientists are not independent, but simply mouthpieces for the industry Greenpeace is targeting.

This has been an effective tactic in fighting global warming, as there is evidence of a concerted campaign by the fossil fuel industry to fund the 1% of scientists who take a contrary view against the well-established scientific consensus on causes of global warming.

Greenpeace badly lost a public campaign claiming trawling was hugely impacting corals in the major Canyons of the Bering Sea. [Short answer: the Canyons are not coral habitat, and bottom trawling was already prohibited. ]  They then tried to use the same tactic of making false claims against renowned fishery scientist Ray Hilborn, who has led the building of a global scientific consensus about how to measure overfishing, and determine when it is or is not occurring.

They accused Dr. Hilborn of not following accepted professional guidelines regarding disclosures of research funding sources. Instead, they called him an “overfishing denier”, clearly trying to make the connection with climate change.

Just like with the Bering Sea Canyons, an investigation showed the facts were not what Greenpeace claimed.

The University of Washington, The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Science Magazine have all reviewed the charges Greenpeace made against Dr. Hilborn of non-disclosure and found there were no violations of University or Journal procedures.

For example, Dr. Mary Lindstrom, Vice-President for Research, University of Washington, said “In response to the inquiry regarding Dr. Ray Hilborn’s research, disclosure, and outside activities we have reviewed his funding types and sources, publication history and disclosures, as well as approvals for outside consulting against relevant University policies.”

“For the activities described in Greenpeace’s letter to Dr. Inder M. Verma, Editor‐in‐Chief of PNAS, dated May 11, 2016, we have not identified any actions or lack thereof, engaged in by Dr. Hilborn which violate University policies or procedures governing conflicts of interest or outside consulting.”

The University of Washington has received millions of dollars in support from fishing groups for several research programs Dr. Hilborn leads, and where that support has led to scientific papers the support is acknowledged. This funding has been used to help maintain sustainable fisheries, help protect fish habitat and to train students. The University of Washington’s Salmon program pioneered many of the key techniques used for Alaska salmon forecasts, and today contributes to the management of Bristol Bay.   Industry co-funding of research contributes to better fisheries management.

The reason the reality of industry support for fisheries in the US is so different than what Greenpeace claims is that the US Industry has fully embraced the concept that fisheries decisions have to be based on the best available science. Greenpeace cannot embrace that concept because much of its funding is based on claiming impending disasters that only they can stop.  If the science provides a different or more nuanced answer, their funding dries up.

Hilborn says “I have no personal financial arrangements with recreational or commercial fishing groups, but I have certainly done consulting projects for them in the past, and when that support led to scientific papers the support was acknowledged. I have also done consulting and research for groups and industries which are occasionally in conflict with fishing interests, including the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund, WWF, Environmental Defense, the Pew Institute for Ocean Science, Exxon and agricultural interests. Where that work led to scientific publications the support was acknowledged.”

“Greenpeace wants to tar me with the same brush as climate change deniers. They clearly have not read my publications. The book “Overfishing: What Everyone Needs to Know” published by Oxford University Press in 2012 begins in the preface ‘So what’s the story? Is overfishing killing off ocean ecosystems or are fisheries being sustainably managed? It all depends on where you look.’

“Overfishing is a major threat to marine ecosystems in some places but in other places stocks are increasing, not declining and overfishing is being reduced or almost eliminated. I tell a complex story of success and failure, whereas Greenpeace simply cannot accept that overfishing is not universal. I seek to identify what has worked to reduce overfishing – Greenpeace seeks to raise funds by denying that many fisheries are improving. Indeed Greenpeace should acknowledge that they have had a role in reducing overfishing in some places – take credit rather than deny it is happening,” he says.

Federal Register

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Yellowfin Sole for Vessels Participating in the BSAI Trawl Limited Access Fishery in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 06/13/2016
NMFS is prohibiting directed fishing for yellowfin sole in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area (BSAI) for vessels participating in the BSAI trawl limited access fishery. This action is necessary to prevent exceeding the 2016 allocation of yellowfin sole total allowable catch for vessels participating in the BSAI trawl limited access fishery in the BSAI.


1000 People come out to Celebrate Kodiak’s Working Waterfront During Council Meetings
SEAFOODNEWS.COM by John Sackton  June 13, 2016
As the N. Pacific Council prepares to move closer to designing a catch allocation program for groundfish in the Gulf of Alaska, over 1000 people rallied in Kodiak Saturday evening with a parade that circled the harbor and charity event organized by the Groundfish Data Bank and Kodiak Processors.

All the main groundfish plants in Kodiak participated:  Trident, APS/North Pacific, Pacific Seafoods, Ocean Beauty, Global Seafoods, and International Seafoods.

At the Seafood feed that followed the parade, a pie throwing fundraiser raised over $17,000 for charity.  High profile advocates and fisheries regulators agreed to take pies in the face, including Trident’s Joe Plesha, Kodiak’s Council Member Duncan Fields, and NMFS Deputy Regional Administrator Glenn Merrill.

The Advisory Panel passed a motion 16-1 to send to the council that recommended major changes to what is known as Alternative 2, the plan to establish cooperatives for groundfish similar to the existing rockfish program.

The motion, however, had numerous options for restrictions on consolidation and caps among both processors and harvesters, and a number of limits on how shares might be transferred.

Many Communities in the Gulf- Kodiak, Sand Point, and King Cove –  felt that they seriously lost out in terms of crews, vessels, and business opportunities during crab rationalization, when operators could sell or lease their shares to vessels operating elsewhere with virtually no restrictions.  As the crab fleet consolidated from over 270 vessels to less than 80, a number of communities say they were left high and dry.  On the other hand, the crab vessel operators say this efficiency was a major goal of the program, and consolidation was inevitable.

This is driving intense scrutiny of the Gulf groundfish rationalization, which all agree is needed to meet the mandates for bycatch management that simply cannot be achieved with a race for fish in the current limited access fishery.

Photo: Julie Bonney, Exec. Director of the Alaska Groundfish Databank and a manager of the rockfish coop program, with her husband Tuck. (Peggy Parker)

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
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June 14, 2016