Alaska/Pacific Coast

Study looks at new way to make ice for salmon fleet
KDLG by Molly Dischner – June 24, 2016
A cheaper way to make ice for the Bristol Bay salmon fleet might be out there. But…practical considerations mean it’s not likely to happen anytime soon.

Bristol Bay Fishermen’s Association seeks more members, better payouts

The name isn’t the only thing changing for the group formerly called the Alaska Independent Fishermen’s Marketing Association. Now dubbed the Bristol Bay Fishermen’s Association (BBFA), the organization is shifting gears to focus on fair and consistent payment for its membership.
KDLG by Molly Dischner – June 24, 2016
“The mission [of] the BBFA is to achieve a fair price on the fish tickets when we go fishing,” BBFA member David Kopra said. “That’s our mission, that’s our purpose, that’s why we’re here.”

Kodiak to Continue Presence at North Pacific Fishery Management Council Meetings
KMXT by Kayla Desroches – June 23, 2016
The Kodiak Fisheries Work Group got together for the first time since the North Pacific Fishery Management Council met in Kodiak earlier this month.

Alaska Fisheries Report
KMXT by Jay Barrett – June 23, 2016
Coming up this week, marketing and sustainability are always on the minds of folks dealing with Alaska Salmon; We have a follow up on that tragic car crash in Atka, a Kodiak man is the new head of the Bristol Bay RSDA, and: The Russian Crab Mafia. We had help from APRN’s Liz Ruskin in Washington DC, KUCB’s Zoe Sobel in Unalaska, and KDLG’s Molly Dischner and Shaylon Cochran in Dillingham.

Copper River Sockeye Salmon Season Update
Quality is King in this Wild Fishery
PRWeb  – June 22, 2016
The Copper River sockeye salmon season is well under way and as of the fishing period that closed June 17, 550,022 sockeye were harvested. Renowned both domestically and internationally, this rich wild Alaska salmon is coveted for its pristine freshness, deep red color and luscious flavor profile.


Alaska attorney general resigns, cites personal reasons
Alaska Dispatch News by Lisa Demer, Alex DeMarban – June 24, 2016
Craig Richards, Gov. Bill Walker’s former law partner and one of his closest confidants, abruptly announced his resignation as attorney general on Thursday, effective immediately.

Second official steps down from Walker cabinet on Thursday
Alaska Dispatch News by Alex DeMarban – June 24, 2016
In an big day of change in Gov. Bill Walker’s Cabinet, the governor’s office said for a second time on Thursday a top administrator is leaving, though it also named a new commissioner.

Behnken is new IPHC interim commissioner
Cordova Time by Margaret Bauman – June 22, 2016
Veteran harvester Linda Behnken, of Sitka, was named June 22 to replace Jeff Kauffman, of Wasilla, as an interim commissioner on the International Pacific Halibut Commission.


Global Seafood Markets Expected to Stabilize in 2016
The Fish Site – June 24, 2016
GLOBAL – After a year of falling prices, seafood markets are expected to stabilize in 2016. Supply continues to grow, driven by a vibrant aquaculture sector. The international community’s efforts towards ensuring the sustainability and legality of catches will get a strong boost from the FAO Port State Measures Agreement, which will enter into force on 5 June 2016, according to the June 2016 FAO Food Outlook.


UW backs fishery professor in research dispute with Greenpeace
Seattle Times by Hal Berton – June 22, 2016
The University of Washington, in a review launched by a Greenpeace complaint, has found that fishery professor Ray Hilborn did not violate university policies when he took money from the seafood industry for research published in academic journals.

Univ. Washington and NOAA Create Reliable Forecast Tool for Pacific Northwest Waters
SEAFOODNEWS.COM – June 24, 2016
Researchers from the University of Washington and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have created a seasonal outlook tool for Pacific Northwest waters.

The University says the forecast can be used as a tool to predict the productivity of West Coast fishing seasons like sardines and crab. A paper evaluating the forecast’s performance was published in June in the interdisciplinary, open-access journal Nature: Scientific Reports.

“Ocean forecasting is a growing field, and the Pacific Northwest coast is a particularly good place to use this approach,” said lead author Samantha Siedlecki, a research scientist at the UW-based Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean. “This paper is doing what the scientific community asks of a new tool, which is assessing how well it performs.”

The tool, called JISAO Seasonal Coastal Ocean Prediction of the Ecosystem, or J-SCOPE, was launched in the summer of 2013. The latest paper is the first formal evaluation of how well it works. Analysis of the first three years of forecasts confirms that they do have measurable skill on seasonal timescales.

The seasonal forecasts for water oxygen, temperature, chlorophyll and pH along the coast of Washington, Oregon, Puget Sound and Canada’s Vancouver Island have been posted for the past three years on the UW-based Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems website. That site now offers a comparison between the forecasted values and the long-term average, and the probability for different scenarios.

“The forecasts have been evolving over the years,” Siedlecki said. “We’re trying now to put the forecast in context — is this better or worse than in recent years?”

Analyses in the new paper show that the tool does especially well at the beginning of the spring upwelling season and matches observations most closely below the surface. This is good, Siedlecki said, because that’s exactly where measurements are scarce.

“Our tool has more skill in the subsurface for things like bottom temperature and bottom oxygen,” she said. “That’s exciting because it can inform us where and when the low-oxygen and corrosive conditions that can be stressful to marine life would likely develop.”

The fall season is more storm-driven, she said, and consequently difficult to predict.

The tool takes long-term NOAA forecasts and combines those with a regional ocean model to produce the outlook. The goal is to eventually combine the ocean forecasts with fisheries management, so that decisions surrounding quotas could take into account the conditions for the species’ habitat during the coming season.

A sardine forecast was recently added and was the focus of a separate NOAA-led paper published this winter in Fisheries Oceanography. That forecast shows moderate skill in predicting sardine populations five or more months out.

The group now has funding from NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center to work on forecasts for hake, also known as Pacific whiting, since the widely-fished species lives below the surface and seems sensitive to oxygen concentrations. The researchers are interested in developing similar forecasts for salmon and other species.

Forecasted values include pH and aragonite, a calcium-containing mineral that marine animals use to harden their shells, so the tool can also help predict which months will have good conditions for growing shellfish.

“The oyster industry has already been treating the intake seawater coming into the hatcheries,” Siedlecki said. “If our forecasts can help the growers identify times of year that would be most suitable to set up juvenile oysters out in the open ocean, that would potentially help them get a leg up on changing conditions.”

For this summer, the outlook may be good news for ocean swimmers who like warm water and bottom-dwelling fish that sometimes struggle to breathe in the late summer or early fall.

“The current forecast is showing weak upwelling, warmer temperatures and higher oxygen than we’ve had in the past, so a bit of a relief in some ways for the ecosystem,” Siedlecki said.

Federal Register

Taking of Threatened or Endangered Marine Mammals Incidental to Commercial Fishing Operations; Issuance of Permit
A Notice by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 06/23/2016
In accordance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), we, NMFS, hereby issue a permit for a period of three years to authorize the incidental, but not intentional, taking of individuals from three marine mammal stocks listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI) pollock trawl and BSAI flatfish trawl fisheries: The Western North Pacific (WNP) stock of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae); Central North Pacific (CNP) stock of humpback whales; and Western U.S. stock of Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus).

Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Exchange of Flatfish in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area
A Rule by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on 06/24/2016
NMFS is exchanging unused flathead sole and yellowfin sole Community Development Quota (CDQ) for rock sole CDQ acceptable biological catch (ABC) reserves in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area. This action is necessary to allow the 2016 total allowable catch of rock sole in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands management area to be harvested.


British Vote Sets Off Bomb in Global Economy; US and Canadian Seafood Industry to Suffer
SEAFOODNEWS.COM [News Analysis and Commentary] by John Sackton – June 24,2016
The unexpected vote in the UK to sever its ties to the European Union has rocked currency and financial markets this morning.  It has also darkened the outlook for the US and Canadian seafood industry.  All of us will be poorer because of this vote.

The vote has caused some of the largest currency movements in decades.  This morning, the Euro is down 3.2% against the dollar, the UK pound is down 8.8%, and the Japanese Yen is down 3.8% against the dollar, to its lowest values this year.

The problem: all of these countries are buyers of US seafood, (80% of US exports from Alaska), and suddenly our customers have woken up poorer this morning.

Currency does fluctuate, and changes in exchange rates are a continual business risk to be managed like anything else.  Yet they have a large impact.

Japan will buy less salmon and pollock roe, surimi, cod and other products than they would with a stronger yen.  The UK will buy less salmon.  The EU will buy less pollock, salmon and cod, and the Canadians will sell less shrimp to the UK, and less crab to Japan.  Both countries will sell fewer lobsters to the UK and Europe.

Newfoundland is particularly tied to the UK market.  The overnight drop in the UK pound against the Canadian dollar was 6.5%.  This will have an immediate negative impact.

The problem of these unexpected changes in value is that they make buyers more risk averse.  If you wake up to the chance that your business plan can be underwater due to increased costs,  your rational tendency is to be cautious.   When buyers turn cautious on a large scale, often they reinforce a negative feedback loop.

On a national or global scale, this is called deflation. Prices fall, and buyers hesitate because they expect prices to fall further.  The lack of demand then causes this to happen, and buyers get more cautious, as their expectations of falling prices are reenforced.

This is the classic problem that led to the Great Depression.

It is far too early to know whether the British disaster will usher in a prolonged period of deflation.

But for seafood, lower prices are in the cards.  The reason is that under normal circumstances, one country’s weakness is another country’s advantage, and seafood producers can adjust their marketing accordingly.

But sometimes there is nothing to adjust to. For example, when the Russian embargo collapsed whiting markets, sellers were left with few options to make it up elsewhere.  The fact that the Yen, Pound, and Euro are all weakening against the dollar gives US exporters few options.  The risk is not the day to day change, but that the breakup of the EU (the UK is the EU’s 2nd largest economy) will result in a long term strengthening of the dollar in a way that hurts exports.

China is not a sufficient market to make up for weakening European and Japanese demand, because they purchase a different range of products.

The second worry is financial.  The seafood industry has been going through a period of consolidation and dependence on outside investors.  Simply look at the efforts of OCI to refinance, of the purchase of Icicle by Cooke, and the rapid expansion of some investor led companies into the scallop and lobster business.

All of these investments are dependent on liquidity… i.e. the willingness of banks and financiers to provide and manage loans.   The same volatility that is causing buyers to be cautious because of uncertainty about currency cost also freezes liquidity for banks and financiers.  They become more risk averse, and in that climate, seafood businesses can fail to secure the financing they need for big deals.

This credit freeze can also ripple through to smaller issues like factoring and loans against invoices outstanding.

The failure earlier this year of Great Pacific Seafoods to open for the Alaska salmon season is a good example of how a credit squeeze combined with an increase in costs after a period of low prices can push businesses over the edge.

Finally, the third leg of this disaster is that governments generally have the power to act to improve liquidity and counter some of these negative trends.  But that is only the case where there is no paralysis.  Right now the State of Alaska cannot agree on a budget; in Washington DC Congress is completely dysfunctional, the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron just resigned, and European Leaders have proven weak and ineffectual in dealing with their own problems, i.e. the precarious financial state of Italy, Spain and Greece.  Not to mention that Brazil is imploding under a corruption scandal.

For all these reasons I did not sleep well last night.


Pet Therapy | Omega 3 may help calm anxious pets
Vancouver Sun by Dr. Rebecca Ledger – June 19, 2016
New research suggests that supplementing a mildly anxious dog’s diet with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid could have anti-anxiety benefits. It is certainly worth a try before reaching for the Prozac.

Ann Owens
Pacific Seafood Processors Association
Office Manager
1900 W Emerson Place Suite 205, Seattle, WA 98119
Phone: 206.281.1667
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June 24, 2016